A Denpasar resident was shocked to come across one of Indonesia’s most exotic mammals right on his doorstep on Saturday night. Upon hearing the frenzied barking a neighborhood dog, I Ketut Gede Yasa Ariana took a look around to find a curled up pangolin at the front of his house.
Pangolins—scaly, cat-sized anteaters for those not in the know—are extremely rare these days due to poaching and illegal trading. Tragically, pangolin scales and meat are in high demand because of their alleged medicinal values, making them the globe’s most trafficked animal.
However, the animal’s rescuer had had no idea about any of this at first. “I had to check what the animal was on Google,” said the 28-year-old to Tribun Bali. “It turned out that it was a rare and protected species so I decided I would contact the Regional Disaster Management Agency (BPBD) or the Natural Resources Conservation Center (BKSDA) for safekeeping,” he continued.
With the pangolin secured in a cage normally used for Ariana’s cat, the BKSDA were called in, though officers were reluctant to take the animal without the relevant paperwork.
“He said that tomorrow [today], the pangolin would be taken into the office, but the official letters needed to be drafted first. He didn’t dare take the animal without the official paperwork,” explained Ariana to the source.
Apparently, it’s not the first of its kind to be discovered in the area. A few months previously, a larger pangolin was secured by the BKSDA from a neighbor’s home. As the pangolin’s natural habitat is rainforest, both creatures are suspected to have escaped from the nearby bird market where, sadly, they would have been illegally trafficked.
Ariana hopes that his rescue effort will contribute to preserving the pangolin population for generations to come. “Hopefully, it will breed and our children and grandchildren will be able to see pangolins. It’s not a definite that they will be able to see these rare animals in the future,” he concluded.
British naturalist David Attenborough is among the most famous advocates for pangolins. In 2012, he named them among the top ten species he’d choose to save from extinction. In the following clip, Attenborough describes saving a pangolin from a hunter during a Bali expedition in the 1950’s.