Is it a dragon? A tiny left behind dinosaur? Maybe some poor scientist genetically crafted his daughter a real live Pokémon? But in actuality, it is a Tree Pangolin, also known as the African White-Bellied Pangolin.
This animal was recently moved from the ‘of least concern’ to the ‘near threatened’ category on the Endangered Species List. I know this doesn’t sound like a big deal, but look at this thing! It’s just a suit of armor with a long sticky tongue, how cool is that? The long tongue is coated in mucus, which makes it useful for catching bugs while it traverses the treetops of the African rainforests. It’s bug eating ability is where it plays its largest role in the environment, keeping the insect population down. Which results in keeping those large, disgusting, scary things far away from me.
The Pangolin is suffering from habitat destruction as one of its major endangerment concerns. Which is a shame because its species is very diverse, and able to inhabit many different living conditions. However the White African Pangolin , also know as the “Tree Pangolin” (because it in fact dwells in trees preferably). Deforestation is something that is affecting not just the Pangolins but the whole planet, and if we must save the forests and conserve the earth, we must also keep the modern Dinos safe as well, along with their habitat. As it stands now there are only TWO Pangolins in North America in captivity for study and preservation. If you are interested here is a video showing one of the pangolins in captivity. http://youtu.be/OtcJJNenq8M
The Pangolin is as if you were looking back in time at a Dragon (yes debatable if they really did exist) or a Dinosaur. These creatures have a wonderful golden plated back but a soft underbelly with hair and mammal like features for being such a throw back of reptile splendor. As beautiful as the are the are often used for medication purposes and also killed for much less than ascetics or fashion in its native lands. It is a shame that something so armored could be in fact to vulnerable.