Protecting Pangolins

Conservation

The Pangolin that was found near Srirampura, in Mysore early this week. The mammal was rescued and let into the Chamundi Hills forest later by naturalist and environmentalist Snake Shyam. (Below) Pangolin climbs the tree the when it was let free. DH Photos by Prashanth H G It was 7.30 am on Tuesday when a family in urban neighbourhood in Srirampura was terrified seeing a strange animal in the compound of their house. The crawling animal with scary features covering its body made desperate attempts to come out of a sump in which it had stuck.

The family members called environmentalist Snake Shyam who rescued it to leave it in the forest area near Chamundi Hills. A same mammal suddenly appeared right on street, in Ramakrishnanagar a few days before this incident and had created panic among the residents there.

The pangolins, scary creatures are covered with horny, overlapping scales. The highly nocturnal mammals, they are being increasingly sighed in urban areas - raising serious concern among environmentalists for sustenance of its habitat.

The increasing incidents of pangolins straying into the urban areas show that its habitat is under threat. The massive urbanisation is threatening the very existence of this harmless creature, which have been living for millions of years in forests and isolated areas.

Though, Pangolins are popularly called Chippu Handi in Kannada, a very little people are aware or know the animal as they rarely stray into human habitat or sighted in day time. They are normally in a sleepy mode in the day time and active after sunset.

Says Snake Shyam, environmentalist who has the credit of saving thousands of snakes, the Pangolins are harmless creatures. “They are not used to be sighed before very often due to thick greenery around Mysore, farms and forest cover. In the last 25 years, the city has grown by leaps and bounds. There are innumerable works like ring road work, layout developments happening in the outskirts which have limited the habitat for the animal. Though, the animal has a feary look, it can’t harm humans. People should not harm the animal if they find it in residential areas or in the urban pockets,” Snake Shyam appeals citizens.

He said Pangolins have been sighted for more than four times in less than past four months. “The last time I rescued a Pangolin before the recent incidents was, four years ago,” he recalled.

Though, the Pangolins have adapted to the changing environments and climatic conditions, these species are threatened worldwide. There are eight different species among Pangolins - found in Africa, India, China and Malaysia. These species were included as the endangered animals in the list of Zoological Society of London’s Extinct and Endangered Mammals of World in Nov 2010.

Pangolins are hunted and eaten in many parts of Africa and China. Its meat is considered a delicacy in the China and other East Asian countries. The hunting coupled with deforestation has led to Pangolins becoming extinct worldwide

Expertspeak

The Pangolins are highly nocturnal and shy animals. Due to habitat loss, they are becoming extinct in the Asia and other countries. The Chamundi hill region has been an ideal habitat for it. The straying of animals into urban environment shows that they have nowhere to go in search of food and shelter. They usually live in burrows and feed on termites and ants. The forest department and the authorities concerned can act to prevent these creatures from becoming endangered in the region.

-Rajesh, Naturalist

There is no separate wildlife programme for the Pangolins. They are found in good numbers in the forest area in Mysore region. The urban forestry like the Chamundi hills and the outskirts of the city are also a place where these animals are seeking shelters.
There are a moderate number of Pangolins in the Mysore region.
Though, there is no specific programme for the species, the wildlife protection and conservation - both flora and fauna is the responsibility of the forest department and our programmes seeks to address the issue in general, where all different species are protected and conserved.

- Yathish Kumar, Deputy Conservator of Forests, Mysore Division

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