January 3, 2011

A Rare White Baby Pangolin or Tenggiling

These could be the most precious photos of mine for 2011! I was fortunate indeed to have this encounter with a rare specie found in its natural surroundings in Miri!!

Baby Pangolin comfortable on the tail of the parent

Most people would say that pangolins are quite plentiful in Sarawak actually if you know where to find them.

Baby Pangolin - my first ever photo of one. And I wonder when would be the next one?

When I visited my grandmother a long time ago in Ah Nang Chong I often had the opportunities of seeing one or two slaughtered for their medicinal value - their blood for some concoction and their flesh for a medicinal brew. The rubber tappers would often come across a few not to say just one ....as these pangolins rolled themselves up when touched.

And in they would go to the basket on the bicycle. Pangolins love termites and ants and sometimes they would be caught just to be let lose in the rubber gardens to eat termites in those days a long time ago.

Later I would hear from my Third Uncle (Pang Sing) that he caught and cooked one or two more.  By then the riverine villages in the Rajang were emptying themselves to Sibu. And the rubber trees were left untapped finally in the 1990's. And I had already moved to Miri. Did the older Foochows live longer because they had special stewed pangolin?

How time flies and people have different attitudes towards the pangolin. Today the world is crying out that pangolins are endangered. Rightly so if people collect them by the thousands and selling them in the blackmarket.But if pangolins are plentiful and they form part of the food cycle I see no reason for humans to eat one or two once a year!!

Friends have been telling me that if you are lucky you can see a mother and a baby in near by Lusut or Bakam.....these animals in the photos were eventually let go in the jungle!!

And the Foochow name for pangolin is Lah Lee. A great price is place on its scales. Its blood is good for several cures.

perhaps just a few days old. About 10 inches long. Still white in colour
Father Pangolin

Some notes on pangolins.

A pangolin (pronounced /ˈpæŋɡəlɪn/), also scaly anteater or Tenggiling, is a mammal of the order Pholidota. Like other animals some members of the family are already extinct. Pangolins have large keratin scales covering their skin and are the only mammals with this adaptation. They are found in tropical regions of Africa and Asia. The name "pangolin" derives from the Malay word pengguling ("something that rolls up"). There are still many pangolins in Sarawak. These animals should be conserved because they devour termites.

Pangolins are nocturnal animals, and use their well-developed sense of smell to find insects. The long-tailed pangolin is also active by day. Pangolins spend most of the daytime sleeping, curled up into a ball.

Do you know that pangolins are also related to sloths and armadillos?

How do you catch a pangolin? They are nevertheless very slow animals. Once you find an anteater or tenggiling (perhaps it is crossing a road in Sarawak) all you need to do is tap its back and it will roll up into a ball. You thus have the opportunity to carry it away and put it in a gunny sack or strong basket or even a net. It has no teeth so it will not bite through any rattan basket or rope net. Of if you find one in an ants' nest. You do the same too. You need to be fairly strong to carry it because one can be more than 12 kg. in weight. Babies usually cling to their mother's tail and they are indeed tiny with less than 8 inch in length. After two months or when they are double their size they are independent and can find their own food. However they may remain underground with their parents for a few more months.

Adapted from  Wikipedia.

I do hope pangolins are allowed to move about freely in the jungles around Miri. They are such tender and loving animals.And I hope the exotic animal trafficking will stop!!


Ah Ngao said...

many years ago i was doing my time in Sri Aman,i came across a Chinese ah pek,his specialty ?? - collecting pangolin scales from kampung to kampung and then sort of export them to China. actually,i read somewhere,the scales are nothing special or no contents of any sort of medicine value - just like our human finger nails. actually,i dont like the idea of rampant hunting or killing of these creatures but again,in the wild some of us need them for food.

Bengbeng said...

there is this crazy idea of the exotic being nutritious n hving medicinal value :( .. they may die off as a species eventually though as their way of adaptation is so inappropriate for modern times i.e. ref the rolling up

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Dear AhNgao.
Thanks for the info about the Ah Pek...yes many people keep pangolin scales...and some keep them for magical purposes too... I would not eat pangolins..Fish any time.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

thanks for your feedback. Yes many animals have really been eaten "to extinction"!!

Uncle Lee said...

Hi Sarawakania, Holy Smoke! I have never seen, nor heard of this animal. Its beautiful!
I never knew such an animal existed.
Thought something from Jurassic park, ha ha.
Got enlightened again coming here.
You have a nice day, Lee.

Ps, you changed you font size? Smaller this time.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Uncle Lee
Wow...talking about educating a friend! That's so kind and gracious of you...I have been learning a lot from youtoo.
Pangolin is definitely getting fewer in number in Asia.

I am trying to re-design my blog...still trying. You noticed !! Thanks again.

Still under construction....hahahahah

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