The Pangolin Protector: A Tale of Discovery and Rescue

Note: Indian pangolins are not tree dwellers. This artwork is not representational.

It was a dark and warm June night. Eight-year-old Raju was walking with his father around the lawn in front of their house when he saw a strange creature. It had a long body covered in scales, and it was around the size of a large house cat. Before Raju could figure out what he saw, the creature disappeared into the darkness. It was an Indian pangolin, and it was the first Raju had ever seen. Raju was fascinated and wanted to learn all about these animals.

Raju’s father, who worked as a forest guard, lived in quarters near the forest. Raju loved spending time with his dad and learning from him about pangolins and other wildlife.

During summer vacations, Raju would often go with his dad to explore the forest. This is how he learned that the Indian pangolin is an endangered animal, which means that there are only a few of them left in the wild. And, it is also one of the most hunted animals in India because people hunt them for their meat and scales, which are used in traditional medicine. This made Raju feel sad and disappointed, inspiring him to become a conservationist and do all he could to save the animal.

After his first sighting of the Indian pangolin, Raju would often get a chance to see the animal near his lawn, and he figured that maybe the pangolin had made its burrow somewhere near the house. One fine evening as the sun was about to set, Raju decided to go looking for the burrow—from a safe distance, so that he would not disturb or scare the animal.

As Raju walked towards the back of his house, he saw a man with his face covered with a black cloth. The man had a knife in one hand and a rolled-up ball covered in scales in another hand. It was the pangolin! Raju screamed loudly at the man, who was startled and dropped the pangolin as he ran from the place. Raju’s father came running out of the house and saw the pangolin lying in front of them. Raju explained what had happened, and his dad immediately called all the nearby forest guards. When they arrived, they searched the area around the forest and found footprints leading away from the site. They followed the trail, which led them deep into the forest. The trail was difficult to follow, but the guards persisted.

They eventually came to a clearing where they found the black cloth and the knife Raju had mentioned earlier.

It was very quiet all around the forest, and then they heard someone’s heavy breathing coming from behind some large rocks. They quickly surrounded and caught the man before he could escape. The guards launched a full investigation and soon discovered that the man was a poacher who was planning to sell the pangolin on the black market to some collectors. The collectors had offered a large sum of money for the animal, and the poacher had a family to feed. The police arrested the poacher and charged him with several counts of animal cruelty and theft.

As for the pangolin, after it was dropped by the poacher, it eventually unrolled itself and opened its eyes. It could see Raju watching over him from a safe distance; it gave the boy a long look as if thanking him for saving its life. The pangolin then moved back into its burrow.

Raju was very happy that the poacher was arrested and that the pangolin was safe. However, he also knew that this was just one battle in the ongoing struggle to protect endangered animals. He vowed to be more vigilant and to do everything he could to help, such as spreading awareness about the animal.

*Rajesh Kumar Mohapatra and Sudarsan Panda (Nandankanan Zoological Park, Odisha, India), CC BY 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons
This article is from issue

CC Kids 17

2023 Dec