Pangolins under threats

BLANTYRE-(MaraviPost)-Malawi’s environmental journalists have been challenged to report and exposed poachers for reptile scare Pangolins which are under extinction threat.

Currently, there is trafficking trade on the specie with statistics showing that 90 Pangolins were poached in 2020 alone in Malawi.

Pangolins are reptiles hunted for meat, used in traditional medicine and fashion accessories particularly in China and Vietnam.

Pangolins threats extinction comes despite being listed as protected species under national and international law as 1 million of them had been trafficked in the last 10 years.

Malawi has not spared from Pangolins trafficking as central region districts recently were caught as transit area to Asian countries.

Pangolins are however sources from Malawi’s neigboring countries including Tanzania, Mozambiaque, Zimbabwe and Zambia.

With the alarming species’ threats, Association of Environmental Journalists in Malawi (AEJ) with Lilongwe Wildlife Trust oriented scribes on how best to exposed trade trafficking on Pangolins.

AEJ members oriented on Pangolins

Patrick Chinguwo, Michiru Nature Sanctuary Manager to the media that there has been surge for illegal possession of Pangolins species which Malawians are conniving with foreigners.

Chinguwo defended protection of Pangolins saying are vital in food chain and web particularly reduces number of pests in gardens during growing seasons.

“Pangolins are protected species by local and international laws but surprisingly between 2020 to 2021 cases of trafficking have increased to 95% hence the need for massive awareness of its extinction. This is the reason we need the media to come in for support.

“It is worrisome to note that Malawi continues to be used as renowned Southern African’s principal transit hub for wildlife crime. Malawi is a primary source of trafficking syndicate as most foreigners connive with locals for the illegal trade which needs to be stopped,” urges Chinguwo.

Lilongwe Wildlife Trust’ Communication Manager Samantha Namputha echoed on the same for media in Malawi to be vigilant in reporting on Pangolins extinction scare.

Namputha therefore expects more coverage on the species following the media orientation.

AEJ President Mathews Malata lauded the Trust for the timely support in the media to understand the role Pangolins play in food chain hence the need to protect the species.

Malata therefore challenged journalists to consider Pangolins trafficking as serious environmental stories in various media houses.

So, why the need for Pangolins protection?

What the heck is a pangolin? Aside from being a very unique, insectivorous creature and the most trafficked mammal in the international illegal wildlife trade, these scaly anteaters also have a job — a very important one!

Pangolins provide earth with all-natural pest control and are fantastic tenders of soil, and they do these things simply through their everyday behaviors.

Tens of millions of years of pangolin evolution have produced an incredible specimen that is perfectly adapted for the niche they occupy.

Their mere presence, in conjunction with that of the other organisms and processes within the habitat they live in, is absolutely imperative to continued healthy ecosystem functioning.

Pangolins are soil caretakers

Their large and elongated claws enable them to burrow underground for shelter and to excavate ant and termite nests for food.

In doing so, the soil is mixed and aerated—much like what happens when we rototill gardens or plow crop fields.

This improves the nutrient quality of the soil and aids the decomposition cycle, providing a healthy substrate for lush vegetation to grow from.

When abandoned, their underground burrows also provide habitat for other animals.

Forget the exterminator, call in the pangolin!

It is said that a single pangolin consumes as much as 70 million insects per year—mainly ants and termites. Seventy million!

That’s about 191,780 insects per day! Imagine an area that is home to 15 pangolins. Those animals alone could potentially eat as many as 1.05 billion insects annually!

Comparatively, the U.S. National Park Service says individuals of some bat species are said to eat as many as 3,000 bugs each night, which could mean a total of almost 1.1 million a year.

As you can imagine, pangolins certainly help to control their insect prey’s numbers, contributing to the delicate balance of the ecosystems they inhabit.

However, humans also benefit from the pangolin’s work.

Researchers at Ohio State University claim billions of dollars are spent annually on repairing termite damage and treating and preventing infestations.

Healthy populations of scaly anteaters throughout their historic range can help to alleviate these problems.

Don’t fire the pangolins!

Ecosystems are maintained only when all of their components—biotic and abiotic—work synergistically, with each one doing its “job”.

The extinction of pangolins may seem like a minimal loss, but the more parts you remove from a system, the closer it becomes to collapse.

Poaching pangolins to supply black market demand for their flesh, scales, and fetuses—which stems from East and Southeast Asia, particularly China and Vietnam—has become the number one threat to these magnificent creatures.

This threat is closely followed by habitat loss.

Daily, we are inching closer and closer to losing pangolins forever, as a result.

The existence of forests where pangolins “work” and live relies on these insectivores to do their “jobs”. It’s up to us to make sure pangolins aren’t exterminated, themselves!

Watch some pangolin pest control in action in this video from National Geographic!

Additional information source: https://www.pangolins.org

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