Congratulations to the two winners of our Where are all the Wild Things? photo contest.
Renee Bell’s photo of a pangolin won first prize based on the number of Facebook ‘Likes’. Second place was won by Christine Rehman for her ‘backyard bear’ photo.
This was our first photo contest, designed to celebrate PRCF’s 17th birthday and to highlight the importance of conserving the world’s precious wildlife.
About the photos
Renee Bell was a volunteer with the Peace Corps, an American volunteer program run by the United States government, from 2009 – 2011. She was based in Kisasa, a small rural village in northwestern Zambia.
Her winning photograph shows her village counterpart, Mr Kasochi, holding a pangolin that he found on his way back from the fields. These animals are rarely found in Zambia, so Mr Kasochi was very excited to find the pangolin and show it to Renee.
Unfortunately, in such a poverty-stricken community, people are hungry and eat any food they can find. Pangolins are considered a special delicacy, so this pangolin did not live to see another day.
Christine says that ‘the bear was photographed through our window. This guy likes to take down our [bird] feeders when he gets hungry. We have forest surrounding our property, so we have all sorts of animals who come by. This bear has a mama who we see in the winter.’
Pangolins are native to Southeast Asia and parts of Africa. Known as ‘scaly anteaters’, these mammals appear reptile-like because of their horny scales. They are completely toothless and their tongue is extremely long, narrow and sticky. Pangolins feed on termites and ants and live in trees and on land.
There are a total of eight species of pangolin on our planet.
Four live in Asia:
- Thick-tailed Pangolin (also called Indian Pangolin), Manis crassicaudata — ‘Near Threatened’
- Phillipine Pangolin, Manis culionensis — ‘Near Threatened’
- Sunda Pangolin (also called Malayan Pangolin), Manis javanica — ‘Endangered’
- Chinese Pangolin, Manis pentadactyla — ‘Endangered’
Four others live in Africa:
- Three-Cusped Pangolin (also called African White-Bellied Pangolin and Tree Pangolin), Phataginus tricuspis — ‘Near Threatened’
- Giant Ground Pangolin, Smutsia gigantea — ‘Near Threatened’
- Cape Pangolin (also called Temminck’s Pangolin), Smutsia temminckii — ‘Least Concern’
- Long-Tailed Pangolin (also called Black-Bellied Pangolin), Uromanis tetradactyla — ‘Least Concern’
(Text in red sourced from IUCN Red List 2012)
All species are thought to be in decline, some more rapidly so than others — particularly the Asian species.
‘Although the scaly anteaters have traditionally been hunted as a protein source and for local superstition-steeped cultural uses throughout their African ranges, this market is now clearly being exploited by East Asian consumers’. (Project Pangolin, 2012).
According to the African Wildlife Foundation, ‘Man takes his toll on the pangolin, which is thought to be a purveyor of magic and charms. When mixed with bark from certain trees, the scales are thought to neutralize witchcraft and evil spirits. If buried near a man’s door, they are said to give an interested woman power over him. Sometimes the scales are burned to keep lions and other wild animals away. In some areas pangolins are sacrificed for rainmaking ceremonies, and in others they are hunted for meat.’
Pangolins are indigenous to the jungles of Indonesia, parts of Malaysia and areas of southern Thailand. They face threats from poachers and smugglers. (Pangolin, 2012)
‘Demand for these animals stems primarily from China and Vietnam, where their flesh is consumed both as a delicacy and for perceived health benefits.
‘Other pangolin body parts — especially their scales — are used to make ‘cure-all’ traditional Chinese medicines. However, there is no scientific evidence to support any of the medicinal claims made about the scaly anteaters.’ (Project Pangolin, 2012)
The pangolin is classified as a protected species under the UN’s Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.
See Project Pangolin’s 25 facts about pangolins
About black bears
Black bears (Ursus americanus) are native to North America and are the continent’s smallest and most common bear species. The bears are omnivores with their diets varying greatly depending on season and location. (American black bear, 2012)
According to the Defenders of Wildlife (2012), ‘The American black bear is distributed throughout North America, from Canada to Mexico and in at least 40 states in the U.S. They historically occupied nearly all of the forested regions of North America, but in the U.S. they are now restricted to the forested areas less densely occupied by humans. In Canada, black bears still inhabit most of their historic range except for the intensively farmed areas of the central plains. In Mexico, black bears were thought to have inhabited the mountainous regions of the northern states but are now limited to a few remnant populations.
‘It is estimated that there are at least 600,000 black bears in North America. In the United States, there are estimated to be over 300,000 individuals. However, the Louisiana black bear (Ursus americanus luteolu) and Florida black bear (Ursus americanus floridanus) are threatened subspecies with small populations.’
‘Black bears… are facing some alarming threats, including habitat destruction, poaching and needless killings.’
What does PRCF do?
We work with a great variety of animals including birds, crocodiles, sea turtles, bats and primates. Although some of these species are critically endangered and charismatic (like the Cao Vit Gibbon), our conservation objective takes us into studying and promoting the conservation of species that are still poorly understood, unglamorous … Read more