For secretive animals, pangolins have been in the news a lot lately. Some suggest that a chance mixing of genetic material from bat and pangolin coronaviruses may have spawned the coronavirus responsible for COVID-19. But pangolins have their own obstacles to navigate.
Covered in scales, these fantastical, termite-eating mammals nearly defy description. Different species hail from Asia and Africa, but the Asian ones are most in peril.
Because their meat and scales are in high demand, pangolins are the most illegally traded mammals worldwide. As a result, their populations in China and Southeast Asia are plummeting.
It’s tough to imagine an animal being eaten to extinction, but the pangolin may end up being a case in point. It would be a very sad ending for such an incredible creature.