For eight years, World Pangolin Day has been celebrated on the third Friday of February to raise awareness about the unique animals. Pangolins, also known as “scaly anteaters,” have large, protective scales covering their skin, and WildAid notes they are the only known mammals with this feature. Unfortunately, the scales are considered valuable by some medical practitioners, their meat considered a delicacy by some in China and Vietnam, and heavy deforestation threatens their ecosystems. Due to these factors, pangolins are the most heavily trafficked wild mammal in the world, according to WildAid.
To help support the animal species, Shangri-La’s Rasa Ria Resort & Spa, Kota Kinabalu observed World Pangolin Day on February 16 with a special program led by Elisa Panjang, an award-winning conservationist in Sabah. Panjang is one of few Malaysian scientists studying the Sunda pangolin, and has her Bachelor’s degree in conservation biology and Master’s degree in ecological processes. Panjang also has a diploma in civil engineering, and was a recipient of the Houston Zoo Wildlife Warrior Award 2017.
With the theme “Pangolin, A Species That Needs Saving,” the program was attended by children from SK Lapasan and SM St. James Tenghilan schools, the resort’s EMBRACE beneficiaries, as well as students and teachers from the University Malaysia Sabah, tourism boards, local charitable organizations, guests, community members and colleagues. Panjang taught attendees about the rarity of the pangolin, its importance in the Sabah ecosystem, and threats to its existence.
After the talk, rangers at the Rasa Ria Reserve led children on a walk through the reserve’s Discovery Centre. The children created artistic collages of pangolins made with leaves collected from the walk.
Thank you to Panjang for leading the educational talk and teaching our guests, community members and colleagues the importance of the pangolin.