Friday, November 20, 2009

Pangolins in trouble

The Star Online (Tuesday December 9 2003)

* Although this is outdated news but this trade still happen and pangolin populations may faced a bad shape.

The pangolin may wear a suit of armour but that has not prevented it from ending up on dinner plates and medicinal stores, writes STEPHEN HOGG.

THE Malayan pangolin (Manis javanica) or tenggiling in Malay is a little-known animal. This strange and rarely seen member of the family Manidae from the order Pholidota is an old-world creature once associated with anteaters, sloths and armadillos.

Once frequently encountered across Malaysia in rubber plantations and oil palm estates, pangolins are more commonly seen these days adorning dinner plates and traditional medicine shops in China.

This ground-dwelling, scaled animal measures close to 1m in length and weighs about 2kg. Completely covered from the neck to the tip of the tail (but not the face, throat and belly) with hard armour-like scales, this unusual creature more closely resembles the new-world armadillo. The scales are tough and made up of agglutinated hair, somewhat like the rhinoceros horn.

Equipped with a long prehensile tail, short powerful legs, tiny eyes and a slender, pointed head, this creature is very adept to its home on the forest floor. Rarely seen in the wild, this elusive species is more probably seen by the public lying dead on the road as a result of a motor accident.

Native to both South-East Asia and Africa, the pangolin prefers lowland to lower-montane forests up to an elevation of about 1,200m. Its strong prehensile tail has several functions, one of which is to act as a support when the animal stands up tall on its hind legs and another is as an extra limb whilst foraging for food in the branches of trees.

The pangolin lives almost entirely on ants and termites. These it locates by scent using its long, flexible and highly sensitive snout. Occasionally, the pangolin eats other soft-bodied insects or grubs but it favours ants which it picks up frantically using its long, sticky tongue which can measure more than the length of its head and body. Amazingly, the pangolin can shoot its tongue out to lengths of up to 25cm.

The tail is used as a support when the animal stands up on its hind legs whilst using its strong forelegs to tear open termite mounds. Superbly adapted for this type of feeding, the pangolin’s face and eyes are protected by thick skin and eyelids. It also has the ability to open and close its nostrils, thus completely protecting itself from ant or termite attack.

Equally suited to trees as it is the ground, the pangolin is an excellent climber. It does this using a caterpillar-type motion: it holds the tree tightly with its fore legs and then brings its hind legs up and so on. It searches tree branches for its favourite food – the leaf nests of weaver ants.

Pangolins now face an uncertain future as humans decimate their population through trade in pangolin skin, leather, meat, scales and live animals. Most of these are destined for China. The pangolin trade is now a major industry. At this rate this animal must certainly be in serious danger of extinction.

In Vietnam it was reported in April that officials confiscated some 600 pangolins and 700 monitor lizards totalling 4.5 tonnes. The animals had been smuggled into Vietnam from Malaysia but, upon their discovery, neither the receivers nor the senders wanted to keep them. Vietnamese officials had no choice but to incinerate the animals after they “failed to adapt to their new habitat.”

Last December, my wife and I encountered a truck filled with 190 pangolins that had just been confiscated by Thai authorities after entering Thailand from Malaysia. Shocking as it may seem, this is not a rare occurrence, with confiscations happening almost daily and numbers of animals reaching up to 500 in one load. Who is to say how many actually reach their destination and evade confiscation?

This trade is illegal but still it goes on. Traders from China apparently paying as much as RM1,500 per animal only encourage perpetrators to continue this illicit trade. There is high demand for scales in traditional Chinese medicines. They are thought to be a powerful antiseptic; medicines made from pangolin scales supposedly cure fevers, skin disorders and venereal diseases.

According to Chris Shepherd of TRAFFIC South-East Asia, a wildlife trade-monitoring organisation, there is currently no legal international commercial trade of the pangolins. “The illegal trade in pangolins is largely out of control, with large shipments of animals being smuggled across numerous international borders, often by the lorry load, to their final destination in China.

“It is not known where all the pangolins are coming from. This is where the public has a role to play ? in supplying the authorities with the information they need to complete this puzzle and to stop this large, illicit trade.”

It is unfortunate that statistics on pangolins are missing in this country. Ask any organisation “What is the status of the pangolin population in Malaysia right now?” and the answer is ... no one can tell you.

There is simply not enough information, money or resources to study the pangolin and, judging from the amount of trade, there cannot be many of them left. This is where the public can help. We need to collect as much information as possible. Please go out and look for pangolins (but do not capture them) and document their whereabouts and their numbers. Then feed the information to to build up a databank on this unusual but beautiful creature.

One Flaw In Women

God doesn't give you the people you want; He gives you the people you NEED... to help you, to hurt you, to leave you, to love you and to make you into the person you were meant to be. 
One Flaw In Women   
Women have strengths that amaze men... 

They bear hardships and they carry burdens, 

but they hold happiness, love and joy. 
They smile when they want to scream. 
They sing when they want to cry. 
They cry when they are happy 
and laugh when they are nervous. 
They fight for what they believe in.. 
They stand up to injustice. 
They don't take "no" for an answer when they believe there is a better solution. 
They go without so their family can have. 
They go to the doctor with a frightened friend. 
They love unconditionally. 
They cry when their children excel and cheer when their friends get awards. 
They are happy when they hear about a birth or a wedding. 
Their hearts break when a friend dies. 
They grieve at the loss of a family member, yet they are strong when they think there is no strength left. 
They know that a hug and a kiss can heal a broken heart. 
Women come in all shapes, sizes and colors. 
They'll drive, fly, walk, run or e-mail you to show how much they care about you. 
The heart of a woman is what makes the world keep turning. 
They bring joy, hope and love. 
They have compassion and ideas. 
They give moral support to their family and friends. 
Women have vital things to say and everything to give. 

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Just For Reflections - Coffee Session

When things in your life seem, almost too much to handle,
When 24 Hours in a day is not enough,
Remember the mayonnaise jar and 2 cups of coffee.

A professor stood before his philosophy class
And had some items in front of him.
When the class began, wordlessly,
He picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar
and proceeded to fill it with golf balls.

He then asked the students, if the jar was full.
They agreed that it was.

The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured
them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly.
The pebbles rolled into the open Areas between the golf balls.

He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.

The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else.
He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with a unanimous 'yes.'

The professor then produced two cups of coffee from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar, effectively filling the empty space between the sand. The students laughed.

'Now,' said the professor, as the laughter subsided,
'I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life.
The golf balls are the important things - family, children, health, Friends, and Favorite passions –
Things that if everything else was lost and only they remained, Your life would still be full.

The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, house,and car.
The sand is everything else --The small stuff.

'If you put the sand into the jar first,' He continued,
'there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls.
The same goes for life.

If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff,
You will never have room for the things that are important to you.


Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness.
Play With your children.
Take time to get medical checkups.
Take your partner out to dinner.

There will always be time to clean the house and fix the disposal.

'Take care of the golf balls first --
The things that really matter.
Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.'

One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the coffee represented.

The professor smiled..
'I'm glad you asked'.

It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem, there's always room for a couple of cups of coffee with a friend.'

Please share this with other "Golf Balls"