Sunda Pangolin

khao sokThe Sunda Pangolin (Manis javanica), also known as the Malayan Pangolin or Javan Pangolin, is a species of pangolin.It is found in South-East Asia, including Thailand, Indonesia (Java, Sumatra, Borneo and the Lesser Sunda Islands), the Philippines, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, and Malaysia and Singapore.

These pangolins are found in Southeast Asia’s forested habitats (primarily, secondary, scrub forest) and plantations (rubber, palm oil). Mostly, they spend time within tree resting or searching food.The Sunda Pangolin’s main predators are the tiger and the Clouded Leopard.It has thick and powerful claws to dig into the soils in search of ant nests or to tear into termite mounds. The nose is fleshy and no teeth in the mouth. However, it has a long and sticky tongue. This helps them to collect ants and termites. Its body covered by rows of scales and fibrous hair. Head-body length of pangolin is up to 65 cm, tail length is up to 56 cm and its weight is up to 10 kg. In fact, males are larger than females.

Pangolins give birth annually to one or two offsprings. It breeds in the autumn and gives birth in the winter burrow. Parental care will be given for approximately three months. Pangolin sometimes found in pairs, but normally solitary, nocturnal and behaves timid. It protects its soft under parts by rolling into a ball when they feeling threatened. They are strong diggers and will make burrows lined with vegetation for insulation near termite mounds and ant nests.

Besides that, it also helps in soil aeration.

Advantages of these animals are constructing burrow to get ants and termites for food resources. So what is the attractant of these endangered species?  The demand comes from Southeast Asia, and predominantly from China, where pangolin is a delicacy and their scales are used in traditional medicine and to make ornamental items.  Many restaurants in China and Vietnam are happy to serve up pangolin soup or other dishes containing the animal’s meat.  Despite the fact that keratinous substances, such as the rhino horn, have been scientifically proven to be void of any medicinal properties, many falsely believe that consuming the pangolin’s scales can reduce swelling, promote blood circulation, and promote lactation in breast-feeding women.

While some poachers kill the animal when they catch it, other times they may be kept alive by request from the restaurants.  A 2007 article in The Guardianquotes a Guangdong chef explaining the disturbing way in which the pangolins are prepared for the diners: “We keep them alive in cages until the customer makes an order. Then we hammer them unconscious, cut their throats and drain the blood. It is a slow death. We then boil them to remove the scales. We cut the meat into small pieces and use it to make a number of dishes, including braised meat and soup. Usually the customers take the blood home with them afterwards.”