Let me introduce you to this adorable and kind of crazy looking mammal: the pangolin
Pangolins are scaled mammals that are closely related to anteaters. These nocturnal creatures spend their nights eating ants and termites. Pangolins generally only give birth to one baby at a time. Their offspring, called “pangopups,” are very dependent on their mother and can be seen riding around on her tail when they are tired. Pangolins roll up into a ball when they are scared, stressed, or frightened.
Indian pangolins are already at risk of disappearing. Now their main habitat in Bangladesh, also the largest mangrove forest in the world, is being destroyed by corporations trying to build coal power plants.
Coal’s Looming Threat to Pangolins
This area, known as the Sundarbans, has been recognized by the United Nations as a UNESCO World Heritage Site: a special place with universal value – and one that should be under protection. But plans are underway to build two large-scale dirty coal power plants. The smokestacks of the coal plants would deposit mercury, acid gases, and other toxic emissions in this area, harming surrounding communities, mangrove forests, and all that depends on them. And the main river through the Sundarbans would be dredged to make way for dirty coal barges.
UNESCO has the power to add the Sundarbans to the list of World Heritage in Danger, and protect the forest and its creatures from destructive development. It can also urge Bangladesh to cancel the proposed power plants and commit to sustainable development around the Sundarbans. But the organization has remained silent as plans push forward to threaten this forest, animals like the endangered Pangolin, and the humans that depend on it.
Now an international alliance of groups, including Rainforest Action Network, is asking UNESCO to take a stand against this intrusion into the Sundarbans. In UNESCO’s own words, these sites “belong to all the peoples of the world, irrespective of the territory on which they are located.” For the sake of our heritage, UNESCO must protect this precious site instead of allowing two highly destructive coal-fired power plants to move forward.
We can all take action to save the Pangolin and its habitat. Join us and partners around the world in sending UNESCO a message. And share this post with others to create awareness about this bizarre adorable creature! Let’s make sure that pangolins always have a home to raise their pangopups.