All over the world, there are a total of eight species. The four can be found in Asian while the other four are in Africa. In the Philippines, there is a species named Philippine Pangolin (Manis culionensis). It is also called as the Palawan Pangolin, since it can only be seen in the area. There are sightings of pangolin in the 17 municipalities out of 24 and this is a good news! There is a big chance that these creatures can be saved and can grow into a larger population.
The Philippine pangolin's body grows in between 30 to 90 centimeters long, and the tail is within 26 to 88 centimeters long and weighs 0.92 to 34.93 kilograms. They are reclusive and nocturnal. Their sense of smell is sensitive and they use it to find food. If they feel harm, they secrete foul odors and roll their bodies.
They are closely related to the Malayan or Javan pangolin that has smaller scales, shorter heads and ratio from its head to toes. Malayan pangolin can be found in Southeast Asia including Brunei, Cambodia, Java, Sumatra, Borneo, the Lesser Sunda Islands, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Myanmar and Vietnam. All species of pangolin are declared as endangered.
Since 1998, there have been reports of illegal trafficking of meats and other cutted parts of pangolin. From 2018 until 2019, there are a total of 6, 894 Philippine pangolins were seized by the local authorities. The largest count of seizure occurred in September 2019 in Puerto Princesa where in 1,154 kilograms (2,545 pounds) of the pangolin scales. These scales are equivalent to 3,900 pangolins that were killed.
Pangolins were sold at black market and were used for Chinese traditional medicine. China has been known for its market of selling animal meats.
The Republic Act No. 9147 also known as the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act which provides protection of wildlife resources and habitats but there are still illegal trafficking of endangered species such as pangolins, and sea turtles.
An author in Zoological Society of London (ZSL) Lucy Archer said on Mongabay that “This is promising for the Philippine pangolin and suggests it is not too late to establish conservation efforts across the species’ range.”
“Compared to similar studies on pangolin species elsewhere, these results suggest that Philippine pangolin populations may not have reached the critical levels shown by Chinese pangolins in China and Vietnam, or by giant pangolins in Benin,” Archer says. “This provides some hope for the species. Imagine walking through a forest at night and trying to find something that makes little noise and might be found alone up a tree, it would take a lot of time and effort!”
“With high knowledge levels and high willingness to be involved in conservation efforts reported by respondents in this study, I think local people are really well placed to help guide and develop conservation efforts,”.
The Government of Palawan must implement strict regulations for saving the pangolins and other endangered species living in this island. This is nature's wealth and we should never ignore the chances of protecting and surviving these species.