A pangolin which can be used in traditional Chinese medicine

A pangolin which can be used in traditional Chinese medicine at the Dingshushan Nature Reserve (1981)

Pangolins are long-tailed, sticky-tongued tropical mammal found in tropical parts of Asia. Most species feed at night, sleep during the day, and roll into an impenetrable ball when threatened (like a hedgehog). This habit gives it its name ‘pangolin’ from the Malayan for ‘rolling over’. The pangolin’s body is covered with large, flat, imbricated horny scales. It somewhat resembles the New World Armadillo in terms of its feeding habits and its use of a defensive, curled up posture. It has a long sticky tongue which it uses to feed on termites and ants.

The Chinese species (Manis pentadactyla) ranges through Nepal, Assam and eastern Himalayas, Burma, and China.

Pangolin’s meat is eaten as great delicacy by hill tribes and their scales are made into a ring as a charm against rheumatic fever. It is listed as an endangered species in the IUCN Red Book.

© Copyright Society for Anglo-Chinese Understanding (SACU)2003

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