Pangolins. Scales of Injustice, by Richard Peirce
In this timely exposé, Pangolins. Scales of Injustice, Richard Peirce unpacks the horrors and dangers of the trade in the enigmatic, little-known mammal Pangolin.
Pangolins are the most mystical and bewitching creatures, often mentioned as cultural omens and in tales associated with phenomena of weather, witchcraft or fortunes of luck. Being the only mammals covered in hard, keratinous, overlapping scales, these rare animals have only been sighted in their natural habitat by the very fortunate few -often a fleeting glimpse at dawn or dusk but nevertheless a sighting and an experience of a lifetime. Being shy, predominantly nocturnal, solitary, territorial and quiet, they are one of the very rarest sightings anyone can have. With no teeth but a very long sticky tongue, almost the length of their own body, pangolins seek out their favoured ants and termites -lapping up thousands with every feed. Their eyesight is generally very poor but they compensate with excellent hearing and an exceptional sense of smell, having the ability to scent out favoured food nests well below the surface, excavating termitaria and ant nests with very strong, well-adapted forelimbs. Only recently have pangolins been the focus of extensive research as we still understand very little about their life history, ecology, reproductive biology, physiology and evolutionary history. However, it is an exciting time as the world is starting to take notice of these rare and elusive mammals and multiple studies are currently under way around the world where scientists are revealing the fascinating ways of pangolins. I have been very fortunate and blessed to be granted the privilege of working with and studying these truly wonderful, peaceful mammals. Pangolins unfortunately hold the title as being the most sought-after traded mammals in the world. They are a prized dish in countries such as Vietnam and their keratinous scales are ground up into powder and used as an ingredient in a multitude of cultural Asian remedies. Such has been the demand for pangolins and their scales in Asia, that the four Asian pangolin species now face a very real possibility of extinction. Being very hard to source as numbers have been depleted over much of their Asian range, the onslaught on the African species has grown exponentially in recent years. Shipments of pangolin scales from the African continent reflect this onslaught. In 2019, alone, 97 tonnes of loose scales were intercepted leaving the African continent; this equates to more than 160,000 African pangolins destined for traditional cultural practices of the East. If one considers that these intercepted consignments represent a very small proportion of the actual undetected trade, African pangolins face a bleak future. South Africa is only one of the African countries where we experience this illicit trade in pangolins. In this account, Richard Peirce brings the plight of pangolins into homes around the world through the story of 'Zambezi', one pangolin I retrieved in a covert operation into the wildlife trade. Richard brings to life a very real account of what transpired and the journey of this fortunate young male pangolin. He highlights some of the wonderful people and organisations helping pangolins and those undertaking ground-breaking research into these mystical creatures, such as the work Wendy Panaino and her team are doing in the Kalahari. This narrative takes readers to Vietnam and exposes first-hand the blatant availability of pangolins and pangolin products to willing customers - further highlighting the incredible persecution these peaceful mammals face. [...]
This is an excerpt from Pangolins. Scales of Injustice, by Richard Peirce.
Subtitle: Scales of Injustice
Author: Richard Peirce
Publisher: Penguin Random House South Africa
Imprint: Struik Nature
Cape Town, South Africa 2021
ISBN 9781775847120 / ISBN 978-1-77-584712-0
Softcover, 15 x 21 cm, 160 pages, numerous colour photos
Peirce, Richard im Namibiana-Buchangebot
Pangolins. Scales of Injustice
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