If you saw the Pangolin, you would probably find it quiet adorable. It’s a shy stooped creature that ambles close to the ground, looking furtively at the world through beady eyes. When threatened, this pre-historic mammal curls up into a ball, presenting a hide covered in overlapping scales so tough, they can withstand a tiger attack or blows from an axe. These scales are also the reason the Pangolin is on the endangered list. For one thing, they make it easy to capture and impossible to kill. So about 3,500 Pangolin are boiled alive in India every year, and about 10,000 worldwide according to the data from the UK based NGO Environmental Investigation Agency.
Thus separated from the skin, the scales fetch up to ` 15,000 per kg in the market, to eventually be used as a ‘tonic’ in traditional Chinese medicine. All this has made the Pangolin the most poached mammal in India and the world. And yet there is little data on its decline, only vague estimates of how few are left, just the fact that the young are being poached so extensively to hint at how few adults probably remain. Chances are, you’ve never even seen a picture of one.
It is essentially, an orphan in the wild. Poached, seriously endangered and still largely ignored. And in the sense, if no one other, the Pangolin is not alone. Its predicament is shared by the Slender Loris and the Red Line Torpedo Barb, which are trapped and sold by the thousands as exotic pets. Likewise, the Dugong or Sea Cow is hunted for its flesh, and the first owlet is sought after for its supposedly magical properties. The Sea Cucumber, which is hunted as a delicacy and an ingredient in traditional Chinese and South-East Asian medicine, has been wiped out in many parts of the western coast. The Sea Horse, traded in thousands as aquarium pets, dried curios and ‘cure’ for asthma, faces the same fate on the eastern coast.
At a time when the impact of human activity is contributing to, if not causing, climate change, species around the world are in peril; some still more than others. But within the world of endangered animals, discrimination persists. Worldwide, the species that pull on heartstrings and purse-strings tend to either be large, powerful animals at the top of a food chain (like the tiger and whale) or charismatic creatures (like the elephant or koala bear).
The hundreds of other critically endangered are left to make do with the scraps of attention, awareness and budgetary allotment left. Some like the Pangolin, amble into the news when their numbers drop very far or very fast, or both. Others, like the Red Line Torpedo Barb, which makes up 60 percent of India’s decorative fish exports, may make it to the news when they have disappeared altogether. “With the bulk of endangered species, the conservation efforts end at moving them from one list to another as their numbers drop and they become more and more endangered. This is just a cosmetic change since it does not reflect any changes of real significance on the ground,” says Shikhar Niraj, head of TRAFFIC India, a joint programme of World Wide Fund for Nature and the World Conservation Union. Since ‘celebrity’ animals like the tiger or the elephant are international symbols of Indian Wildlife, they tend to hog public attention. This is bad news.
As marine ecologist Deepak Apte puts it, “We may concern ourselves with the flagship species but it is the minutiae that actually balance the ecosystem. Be it the Scavenger species, the Sea Cucumber or the Insectivorous Loris, it is these species that keep the ecosystem healthy and clean.”
Q. On the basis of your reading the passage, make notes using recognisable abbreviations wherever necessary. Use a format you consider suitable, supply a suitable title.
- Animals often poached:
- Slender Loris
- Red Line Torpedo Barb
- shy stooped creature
- ambles close to ground
- beady eyes
- looks furtively
- hide covered with overlapping scales
- Reasons for poaching:
- used as a tonic in chinse medcn
- Loris & Red Line Torpedo Barb
- sold as pets
- Dugong or Sea Cow
- hunted for flesh
- Sea Cucumber
- eaten as a delicacy
- ingr. in chinse. medcn.
- Sea Horse
- traded as aquarium pet
- cure for asthma
- Need for consrvtn:
- balance the ecosystem
- keep the ecosystem healthy and clean.
|Key to Abbreviations|
|1. chinse chinese|
|2. medcn medicine|
|3. & and|
|4. consrvtn conservation|
|5. ingr. ingredient|
Q. Make a short summary of the passage in about 80 words.
Animals which are endangered and often poached make a long list which includes Pangolin, Slender Loris, Red Line Torpedo Barb, Sea- Cucumbers, Dugong, Sea Horse etc. Pangolin, which is a shy stooped creature has beady eyes and its hide is covered with overlapping scales. It is hunted for its scales which are used as a tonic in chinese medicines. Loris, Red Line Torpedo Barb and Sea-Horse are traded as pets where as Dugong or Sea Cow is hunted for its flesh. But there is need to conserve these endangered animals as they balance the ecosystem and keep it healthy and clean.