A Pangolin trapped in a well, was rescued by a team of Gir Wildlife Sanctuary and National Park officials in Junagadh district of Gujarat. Pangolins are unique, rare mammals frequently sighted in the Gir forests. Once deemed endangered, the rare animals are now listed as Not Threatened by IUCN.
Pangolins are mostly found in the hilly regions and the plains of India. They are popularly known as ‘scaly ant eaters ‘due to the presence of layers of scales on the body and because they feed on ants and termites.
The pangolin, trapped in the well, was first noticed by a farmer in Surajgarh, who thought it to be a strange animal struggling to stay afloat in the well. When the concerned officials were alerted, the rescue team arrived along with veterinarians and identified the animal as pangolin though initial reports suggested it to be a crocodile.
Deputy conservator of forests, of Gir sanctuary and National park, Dr. Sandeep Kumar said,
“The Gir rescue team has a longstanding history of rescuing different kinds of animals and is one of the best wildlife rescue teams in India. One of the team members tried to rescue the pangolin manually by getting into the well. Finally, it was decided to rescue it with the help of net and rope and this method proved to be successful and within no time the rescued pangolin was brought to the Animal Care Centre in Sasan.”
The rescued pangolin was a male measuring 3 feet and weighing 7.5 Kgs; it had 32 rows of scales from neck to tail. Its age was put at 2 years as per the doctors who examined it. It was kept under medical observation and later released to its habitat after they were satisfied that it was fit for release by the rescue centre.
Officials at the Gir sanctuary maintained that besides pangolins, also known as ‘ant eaters’, rusty spotted cat and ratels also frequented the sanctuary during the day in the previous months. Kumar said that the pangolin “is a unique and rare animal… recently the sightings of which have drastically increased in the jungles of Gir.”
They are considered one of the most primitive of mammals and have hardly changed in the course of evolution. The Indian Pangolins (Manis crassicaudata) are also called ‘scaly ant eaters’. They dwell in hilly and plain regions of India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. They possess large overlapping scales and being insectivores, feed on ants and termites; hence the name.
The thick overlapping scales act as armour and pangolins can curve like a ball in self defence when attacked by a predator. They camouflage with the surrounding environment, for survival, a natural act of most animal species. Pangolins are nocturnal and hide in deep burrows during day.
The Tamil people call pangolins ‘Alangu’ or ‘Azhungu’ while in Sinhalese it is called ‘Kaballewa’. In Kerala, they are referred to as ‘Eenampechi’n.
Though it is good to know that their population is on a growth path, it is distressing to note that they are hunted for their meat and for making medicinal oil.
Article reference: ibnlive