Just when you think you have a general awareness of the earth and its inhabitants, the universe butts in and calmly reminds you that you know very little.
Apparently, the most coveted wild animal by poachers ranging from Southeast Asia to Africa is a scaled mammal named the pangolin– a kind of a cross between an armadillo and the head of an asparagus spear.
Here’s all you need to know about this poor, odd creature going into VICELAND’s finale of Black Market Dispatches, titled ‘Pangolin Poaching’
Over 10,000 Pangolin’s are poached per year
Compare that to 1000 endangered Rhino that fall to trafficking each year and you’ve got a veritable genocide on your hands.
The Pangolin population is dying thanks to pseudo science
Like with the infamous Shark Finn Soup— a tasteless brine that’s sought after for its alleged miracle healing powers— the Pangolin is hailed for its medicinal qualities despite there being no evidence to support the claims.
This doesn’t stop high-end Vietnamese and Chinese establishments from not only serving the ridiculously priced Pangolin meat, but also offering Pangolin scales as an unverified aphrodisiac and their blood as some all-powerful restorative elixir.
The price of Pangolin fuels the illegal trade
It’s said that pangolin in a high end restaurant costs upwards of $350USD per kilo, and considering they’re heavy little suckers, a single plate of prepared Pangolin could set you back up to two grand.
The Pangolin is perfect for the wild. We’re its only threat.
Proof that if there’s a maker, he/she/it was fairly ingenious, and kind of wacky. When threatened, the pangolin curls into an impenetrable ball, one that predators such as big cats merely kick and toss around in confusion until they abandon the idea.
If it weren’t for human desire, these resilient little mofos would thrive just hanging out and doing their their thang in the wild as an impressive, almost other-worldly species.
You won’t see no pangolin at your local zoo
As underfunded activists and conservationists run research-based ‘pangolariums’ throughout Southeast Asia, they’re still learning why pangolin’s struggle to survive in captivity.
Unsure of their diet while in the wild, researchers believe that specific dietary issues are responsible for caged deaths, but as the threat of poaching isn’t going away anytime soon, they’ve persisted and managed to maintain the pangolin’s health through a combo of silkworm larvae, soy, and frozen ants.
Black Market: Dispatches airs Thursday nights at 8:30pm on SBS VICELAND. Catch up with previous episodes streaming on SBS On Demand: