Another day, another Pangolin.Pangolins are the colour of a winter sea. I am immediately inspired to paint another cuddled- up Pangolin painted in the colours of my favourite winter sea. That of the Atlantic coasts close to my adopted home in the West of England. The greens, blues and browns of seas and minerals stirred up by storms and winds in the wet months of October to March , most years, are every bit as beautiful as turquoise tropical seas.As isolation stretches into the distance , ponderation seems happy to hunker down and settle on one subject for more than one day.I realise not everyone may have had a childhood fascination with the Pangolin or Spiny Ant Eater . So today I’m going to share some top tips on Pangolins. Pangolin is a Malay word for one who rolls up.Pangolins are said to be the most Trafficked Mammal which brings us instantly back to Covid-19. For today I’m going to talk about pre-pandemic Pangolins.They are poached and Trafficked because their scales are highly valued in Chinese Medicine. This trade is illegal internationally. They are also considered to be a luxury bushmeat. I’m unsure if this trade carries a world wide ban .It should. China and Vietnam are the countries where most Pangolin are tradedPangolins are solitary peaceful animals, mostly nocturnal, who only socialise annually to mate. Mating is not instigated in the usual sense by males. They simply leave a bit of poo and wee around and a female sniffs him out when she feels in the mood for reproduction.
What thrilled me as a child was the Pangolin tongue. Longer than the length of its body it is stored in a pouch by the Pangolins hip.
This seemed like a super power accessory we could all do with. Their spit is super sticky, all the better to gather termites and ants . Pangolins have no teeth and swallow pebbles to grind the ants into a pulp in their first stomach. Curiously they also have scales inside their stomachs to aid this grinding.Pangolins are found in Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. The illegal trade in their meat and scales has forced three of the eight species close to extinction , this coupled with the loss of their natural habitat by deforestation has put all eight remaining Pangolin species on an At Risk of Endangerment or Extinction register at various levels of severity as of January 2020.Pangolins in literature might be my Pandemic research of the day…
Pondering the poor Pangolin.Being a small bookworm took me to some interesting books and introduced me to unusual creatures The Pangolin was a creature I felt an affinity with whenever one appeared in the books I was reading. At other times I sought them out in Zoos and wildlife parks, thrilled by their ability to lick up ants. Their tongue is longer than their whole body and is kept in a pouch by one hip. That’s like a superpower. Pangolins might have remained in a quiet recess in my brain had the current Pandemic not put them very squarely in the frame through no fault of their own. Their scales are prized in Chinese medicine and their flesh is prized as a delicacy, increasingly they are farmed and this unregulated trade puts them in unnatural close proximity to Bats believed to be the original species host of Coronovirus.
Katherine Rundell has written this uncomfortable account of Pangolin reality. https://www.lrb.co.uk/the-paper/v40/n04/katherine-rundell/consider-the-pangolin
The awkward path of Coronovirus from Bat to Human via the Pangolin in wet Markets in China will be the stuff of much research in the future.
For today I just wanted to sketch my childhood friend, the Pangolin.
As luck would have it, I had a curious wedding garment that I photographed in Greece in my image file . It was just what I needed to give this little chap some bling.