World Pangolin Day is celebrated on the third Saturday of February all over the world and is an opportunity for people who care about the environment and conservation, to join together in raising awareness about these unique scaly mammals — and the threats they face. Sadly pangolin numbers are rapidly decreasing in both Asia and Africa.
This year, World Pangolin day was celebrated on Saturday 17th February, an ideal day for our enthusiastic Zambian and Zimbabwean Eco-Club students to get together to participate in a morning of fun-filled, interactive activities celebrating this wonderful creature, its attributes and understanding that if they, the youth, don’t stand together to stop its persecution, they will become extinct. Our Eco-Clubs followed the Children in the Wilderness (CITW) World Pangolin Lesson Plan. CITW promotes important international environmental days in our Eco-Clubs with focused lessons, with the aim of exposing our children to different conservation initiatives.
This scaly mammal has scales made up of keratin – which is the same as human hair and nails – with strong powerful claws for ripping open ants nests and a long sticky tongue to pick up ants and termites. A pangolin’s only means of defence being to roll up into a tight ball to protect itself, however no match for the poachers who just pick them up.
The demand for pangolins is predominantly from Asian countries, where the scales, unfortunately like the much exploited rhino horn, are believed to have medicinal properties and the pangolin flesh is considered a real delicacy. As a result it is believed that more than a million of these anteaters have been snatched from the wild in the last decade. Sadly these scaly anteaters are literally being eaten out of existence
The Eco-Club students carried this serious message to their fellow pupils at their respective schools during the next week, doing talks, enacting plays depicting the plight of this humble mammal, ensuring that all understood the gravity of the situation and were united in the fight to prevent its extinction.
Below are a few highlights from the day’s celebrations. Part of the lesson was to create your own pangolin – our creative children had the best time! One group even made their own clay to mold a pangolin.