Originally published on Earth Touch News.

When news broke in February last year that pangolins could potentially be intermediate hosts for the pandemic that had already begun to tighten its grip across much of the globe, it thrust the pinecone-like creatures into the spotlight. Despite the pangolin’s undesired title as “most trafficked mammal in the world” many people had still not heard of these strange creatures. As another World Pangolin Day pops up on the calendar and awareness of their plight continues to be critical for conservationists, we’re sharing a video series put together by environmental organisation WildAid and starring Djimon Hounsou, that sheds light on the perils of the pangolin trade (scroll down to watch the series).

In the mini-documentary series released last year, WildAid Ambassador Hounsou (who you may recognise from his roles in Gladiator and Amistad) takes viewers on a journey across Africa to learn about the many threats pangolins face. Hounsou travels to wildlife markets in Nigeria, where he meets a local pangolin conservationist working to protect the animals; to a veterinary clinic in South Africa, where he learns about the pangolin crisis from a wildlife rehab specialist.

Pangolins, also known as scaly anteaters, are insect-eating mammals native to Africa and Asia. Although the WildAid series mostly focuses on pangolins found in Africa, there are actually eight different species. Some, like Vietnam’s Sunda pangolin, live arboreal lives, denning in hollow trees.

Pangolins are known for their overlapping scales, which form a protective suit of armour over their entire bodies, much like those of an armadillo. By curling into a ball, they deter would-be predators, protect their babies, or simply nap in peace. This defensive mechanism, however, renders them easy to capture by poachers and all eight species are currently under threat.

Watch the series below to learn more about pangolins and the work being done to conserve them:

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About WildAid

WildAid is a non-profit organization with a mission to protect wildlife from illegal trade and other imminent threats. While most wildlife conservation groups focus on protecting animals from poaching, WildAid primarily works to reduce global consumption of wildlife products such as elephant ivory, rhino horn and shark fin soup. With an unrivaled portfolio of celebrity ambassadors and a global network of media partners, WildAid leverages more than $308 million in annual pro-bono media support with a simple message: When the Buying Stops, the Killing Can Too. 

Journalists on deadline may email communications@wildaid.org