Easily recognized for their beautiful armor of large, plate-like scales, pangolins are considered to be the most trafficked mammal in the world. But what’s more saddening is the fact that even in their endangered state, only a few people know that pangolins exist.
Worldwide, there are only eight species of pangolins, and they are found in parts of Africa, India, China, and the Southeast Asia–one of which is the Philippines’ Palawan pangolin, locally known as balintong.
Pangolins are popular in the black market as they are being exploited for traditional medicine and bush meat purposes. In the last decade alone, more than a million pangolins have been illegally hunted, trafficked, and killed.
To work against this deplorable trend, locals from Zimbabwe founded the Tikki Hywood Trust – an organization that is devoted to rescuing and rehabilitating endangered animals such as pangolins.
Adrian Steirn, a wildlife photographer who documented the organization’s rehabilitative efforts, described the relationship between the volunteers and the rescued pangolins as “beyond extraordinary.” “Every single day of the year, these guys go out, ensure that these animals are fed, and [rehabilitate them] so that they can be released back into the wild,” he says.
“Show these photos to your children. Let them have a look at them. Let them ask questions…”
Through his photographs, Adrian hopes to increase public awareness on pangolins. “Show these photos to your children. Let them have a look at them. Let them ask questions. Feel good knowing that you have the answers. And in doing that, we’ve educated the next generation. And that’s all we can do,” he says.
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Text by Aizel Dolom. Photos courtesy of Adrian Steirn.
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