By: Lydia Reagan ~Feature Editor~
Earlier this week, Google released an adorable Valentine’s-themed mini game featuring a little known creature, the pangolin. You may be wondering, what is this adorable little rolly creature? The pangolin is the only mammal that is completely covered in scales. Its scales are completely impervious to its predator’s teeth, so when faced with a dangerous enemy, it simply curls up into a ball.
Its scales, while incredibly durable and strong, are one of the main reasons that the pangolin is currently critically endangered, according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Many people in Asia believe that its scales have medicinal properties, and pangolin meat is considered a very elite, elegant commodity.
Pangolin sales account for about 20 percent of wildlife black market sales, and their scales can go for $3,000 per kilogram.
Unfortunately, the pangolin’s defense mechanism of curling up in a ball doesn’t bode well against poachers. It makes it very easy for them to simply pick up the pangolin and stick it in a bag.
Luckily, thanks to efforts from companies like the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and Google, the pangolin is rising in importance. Last year, 180 governments agreed to end all legal trade on the species in an attempt to give the animal some stability.
WWF and TRAFFIC, a wildlife trade monitoring network, are working tirelessly to end illegal animal crime in Asia. They recently received a grant from Google that allows them to stop poaching using technology like thermal imagery.
The game Pangolin Love will be available until this Saturday, which is World Pangolin Day. Play the game, learn more about the pangolin and do what you can to help save these wonderful little mammals from extinction.