Today (21st February 2015) is World Pangolin Day! This is a day for pangolin enthusiasts worldwide to join together in raising awareness about these unique mammals – and their plight.

Pangolins are secretive and nocturnal creatures, rarely seen by people, and not exactly the cutest of the forest’s inhabitants. But personally, I am very fond of pangolins, and hope to be able to encounter one in the wild someday.

Pangolins are secretive and nocturnal creatures, rarely seen by people, and not exactly the cutest of the forest’s inhabitants. But personally, I am very fond of pangolins, and hope to be able to encounter one in the wild someday.

The pangolin species found in the forests of Singapore is the Sunda or Malayan Pangolin (Manis javanica). Here, it receives some protection from the rampant poaching and smuggling that threatens to wipe out populations of Sunda Pangolins in other parts of Southeast Asia, but they still face other challenges here. Clearing of forests and other wooded areas destroys the habitats that pangolins and other forest wildlife need, and the roads that often cut through or run alongside our forest patches have led to the deaths of many pangolins over the years. Every so often, there are reports of pangolin carcasses by the road, victims of drivers who often travel at high speeds and don’t slow down for wildlife.

This is my only sighting of a dead pangolin in a natural setting to date: a skeleton found along the tracks of the Rail Corridor in 2011, somewhere close to Bukit Timah Nature Reserve. At that time, the KTM trains between Tanjong Pagar and Woodlands were still in service, and I won’t be surprised if this unfortunate pangolin had been struck and killed by a passing train.

Hopefully, with greater awareness of the fact that pangolins still survive in Singapore’s remaining forest patches, more people will be inspired to help protect these bizarre-looking creatures and the forests they live in.

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