Do you know what a pangolin is? It’s an adorable little creature that is native to areas of Africa and Asia. It looks a little like an armadillo with similar keratin-based scales. They eat mainly ants and termites and roll up in a ball when they feel threatened. They are odd little guys, with tongues that can actually be longer than their body when full extended, which I suppose is extremely helpful when hunting termites.
It is also one of the world’s must hunted and illegally trafficked animals on Earth. This one small animal current makes up 20 percent of the black market involving wildlife. For more information on this oddly adorable creature take a look at Save Pangolins and the dedicated page on the World Wildlife Federation website. You can also see some children’s books that include the creatures like Roly Poly Pangolin by Anna Dewdney and What on Earth is a Pangolin? by Edward R. Ricciuti.
The third Friday in February has been named World Pangolin Day to help raise awareness and conservation efforts of this endangered animal. This year it falls on February 18th. People are encouraged to recognize the day by sharing information about the pangolin and to help raise awareness about the danger the entire species is in. I think that is a wonderful idea, but we can take it a step further by learning more about a variety of threatened animals.
Sadly, there are many animals out there that are endangered or threatened that people are unaware of, unless they go looking for the information or stumble across it accidentally. That is how I found out about the pangolin. This in turn made me think about the number of animals and insects that make their way on to the endangered or extinct list every year and what can be done to stop (or at least slow) the process.
Thankfully, more and more information is available about animals at risk, and what we can do to help. This is particularly true with children’s books. There are several publishers making an effort to raise interest and awareness. National Geographic has an entire series of books about making a mission of protecting at risk areas. Thus far we have the books: Mission: Tiger Rescue, Mission: Wolf Rescue, Mission: Elephant Rescue, Mission: Sea Turtle Rescue, Mission: Polar Bear Rescue , Mission: Shark Rescue, Mission: Panda Rescue, and Mission: Lion Rescue.
Author Sandra Markle has also research and written several books about creatures that are at risk. So far we have: The Case of the Vanishing Honey Bees , The Case of the Vanishing Little Brown Bats , The Case of the Vanishing Golden Frogs, The Great Monkey Rescue: Saving the Golden Lion Tamarins, and The Great Leopard Rescue: Saving the Amur Leopards.
While there are many more animals at risk out there, these books are a great way to dive into the information and get kids interested in helping animals, both in our backyard and miles away.