“PLIGHT OF THE PANGOLIN”

“The World’s Most Wanted Animal” is one you’ve probably never heard of. Nature Executive Producer Fred Kaufman is here with the heartbreaking details and preview of the “Plight Of The Pangolin”.

For more information, click here. 

Aired on April 3, 2019. 

TRANSCRIPT

> PANGOLINS HAVE BEEN DESCRIBED AS THE MOST ENDANGERED ANIMAL YOU HAVE NEVER HEARD OF.

THE WORLD'S ONLY SCALY MAMMAL.

PENGUINS ARE NOW TRAFFICKED AT A HIGHER RATE THAN RHINO, ELEPHANTS AND TIGERS COMBINED.

ONE HEROIC CONSERVATIONIST HAS PUT HERSELF ON THE FRONT LINE OF THE BATTLE TO SAVE THESE SURPRISINGLY CHARMING CREATURES.

HER STORY AND THAT OF THE PENGUINS IS THE SUBJECT OF NATURE'S LATEST INSTALLMENT, THE WORLD'S MOST WANTED ANIMAL.

THE PENG LIN HAS EXISTED FOR 40 MILLION YEARS BUT IT MAY NOT SURVIVE MANY MORE.

AND EXACTLYIVE PRODUCE OVER 'NATURE' JOINS US NOW.

FRED, THE PANGOLIN AS I SAID IS MOST TRAFFICKED ANIMAL IN THE WORLD BY FAR.

YET I'M WILLING TO WAGER AT LEAST 90% OF OUR VIEWERS HAVE NEVER HEARD OF THE PACK LIN WHY?

MAYBE UP UNTIL FIVE YEARS AGO I NEVER HEARD OF THE PANGOLIN.

AND WHY?

AND AFTER 5 YEARS OF NATURE AND HUNDREDS OF PROGRAMS WE'VE NEVER EVEN HAD A PANGOLIN IN A SHOW.

THEY ARE VERY HARD TO FIND.

THEY ARE THREATENED.

ENDANGERED.

AND THEY ARE VERY ELUSIVE IN THE SAVANNAH.

YOU CAN'T SEE THEM.

THEY ARE WELL CAMOUFLAGED AND THERE AREN'T A LOT OF THEM AROUND.

SO, YOU KNOW, NORMALLY YOU WOULDN'T NORMALLY SEE ONE.

IN OUR SHOW WE HAVE A WILDLIFE CAMERAMAN WHO'S BEEN SHOOTING 25 YEARS AND HE'S ONLY SEEN THEM THREE TIMES.

WOW.

AND THEY ARE THE CUTEST THINGS.

VERY CUTE.

LIKE LITTLE WALKING DINOSAURS OR SOMETHING.

WHY ARE THEY BEING TRAFFICKED TO SUCH A DEGREE?

IT IS THEIR SCALES.

THEIR SCALES ARE WANTED IN ASIA AND GROUND DOWN AND BOILED AND THOUGHT TO HAVE SOME MEDICINAL CURE.

TO BITE YOUR NAILS AND SEE IF YOU ARE CURED IS BETTER THAN TAKING THESE ANIMALS OUT OF THE WILD.

THE SCALES HAVE BEEN SOUGHT OFF IN ASIA FOR A CENTURY.

MAYBE LOCKER.

YEAH.

NEVERTHELESS THE DEMAND SEEMS TO HAVE SPIKED THROUGH THE ROOF IN THE LAST 20 YEARS, HENCE THEN CREASE IN TRAFFIC.

AND WHY?

DO WE KNOW?

UP UNTIL ABOUT 2000 IT WAS LEGAL TO TRADE PANGOLIN IN ASIA.

AND THERE ARE FOUR SPECIES IN ASIA AND FOUR SPECIES IN AFRICA.

THEY ARE MUCH MORE THREATENED AND ENDANGERED IN ASIA.

AND FROM THE YEAR 2000 ON THEY COMPLETELY STOPPED IMPORTING PANGOLINS.

SO NOW THERE IS A GREATER DEMAND FOR THE AFRICAN PANGOLIN.

AND I ALSO THINK THE SCALES OF THE PANGOLIN ARE SAME THING AS A RHINO HORN.

AND I THINK SINCE THE RHINOS HAVE BECOME FAR MORE PROTECTED, PEOPLE ARE NOW TURNED TO THE PANGOLIN SCALES TO KIND OF DO THE SAME THING.

ALL RIGHT.

SO ENTER MARIE INTO THE PICTURE.

WHY IS SHE SO IMPORTANT TO THE PICTURE?

IN ANYNAMIBIA SHE STARTED A CONSERVATION AND WANTED TO BRING ATTENTION TO THESE LESSER KNOWN ANIMALS.

THEY DON'T GET A LOT OF ATTENTION.

THEY ARE NOT THE BIG MARQUEE NAMED ANIMALS LIKE ELEPHANTS AND BIG CATS.

SO SHE WAS BRINGING ATTENTION TO THESE LESSER KNOWN ANIMALS.

AND SOMEBODY HEARD ABOUT HER AND BROUGHT HER AN ORPHAN PANGOLIN.

AND THAT BECAME SORT OF THE PROCESS FOR HER TO NURTURE THIS PANGOLIN AND GAIN THE REPUTATION OF TAKING CARE OF THESE ANIMALS, WHICH ARE VERY, VERY DIFFICULT TO MAINTAIN IN CAPTIVITY.

THEY DIE.

RIGHT.

MOST PEOPLE DON'T KNOW HOW TO DO IT.

SHE'S ONE OF THE FEW, LIKE A HANDFUL OF PEOPLE WHO CAN KEEP THEM ALIVE.

SHE SAYS THERE ARE THREE IN THE WORLD.

SHE'S ONE OF THEM TO.

REALLY KEEP THEM ALIVE IS 20 HOURS A DAY AND SHE WALKS WITH IT.

AND HAS HER ASSISTANTS WALK WITH IT FIVE HOURS A DAY.

TO FEED.

TO FEED AND FORAGE AND HAVE A SEMBLANCE OF A NORMAL LIFE.

THEY ARE VERY SCARED ANIMALS.

THEY GET STRESSED VERY EASILY.

SO WHEN THEY ARE KIDNAPPED, YOU KNOW, MOST OF THEM DIE FROM THE TRAUMA.

THINK IF SOMEBODY THREW A BAG OVER YOUR HEAD AND THREW YOU IN TRUNK OF A CAR HOW TRAUMATIC THAT IS.

SO THAT IS WHAT HAPPENS TO THE ANIMALS AND SHE'S FIGURED A WAY YOU HAVE TO PUT A LOT OF TIME AND CARING TO NURTURE THEM.

SHE'S DOING TIRELESS WORK AS YOU JUST DESCRIBED.

BUT SHE'S SAVING ONE AT A TIME.

AND THAT -- THAT'S NOTHING COMPARED TO THE THOUSANDS AND THOUSANDS THAT ARE POACHED AND TRAFFICKED.

RIGHT.

SO CLEARLY THE ANSWER IS TO STOP THE DEMAND FOR PANGOLIN SCALES.

RIGHT?

STOP IT OR CURTAIL IT OR DIMINISH IT?

HOW DO THEY PLAN TO DO THAT?

YOU KNOW IT IS VERY DIFFICULT.

LOT OF DEMAND IS COMING FROM ASIA.

SO MARIA REACHED OUT TO THIS CHINESE ACTRESS AND MODEL.

HER NAME IS ANGEL.

-- ANGEL BABY.

UNBELIEVABLE POPULAR.

BIG PANGOLIN FAN.

AND SHE RECORDED THIS PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT FOR CHINA TO NOT, YOU KNOW, POACH THESE ANIMALS.

AND, YOU KNOW, HARD TO SAY WHAT KIND OF EFFECT IT WILL HAVE.

I THINK YOU REALLY NEED TO CHANGE THE MINDS OF PEOPLE, THE YOUNGER GENERATION.

SO, YOU KNOW, THEY LOOK AT THAT AS BEING SOMETHING YOU WOULDN'T WANT TO BEGIN WITH.

THE SAME THING AS ELEPHANT IVORY AND RHINO HORN AND PANGOLIN SCALES.

IT IS NOT COOL.

NOT HELPFUL.

IT HAS NO MEDICINAL VALUE.

LEARNING WHAT THEY ARE IN THE FIRST PLACE IS A START.

WHAT ANGEL BABY IS DOING IS ONE THING.

WHAT YOU ARE GOING TO BE DOING WITH THIS SERIES IS ANOTHER, RIGHT?

YES.

I HOPE SO, YES.

LET'S TALK ABOUT THE SERIES.

YOU HAVE BEEN HERE MANY TIMES AND WE TALKED ABOUT STORIES THAT ARE ALWAYS FUN AND VERY OFTEN FUNNY.

BUT A SERIES UNDERCURRENT OF EVERY SHOW OF THE SERIES SEEMS TO ME TO BE THE CRITICAL IMPORTANCE OF CONSERVATION AND PRESERVATION.

RIGHT?

AM I RIGHT ABOUT THIS.

YEAH, YOU KNOW, SOMETIMES I FEEL LIKE WE TOO OFTEN ROMANTICIZE OR SANITIZE NATURE.

WHENEVER THERE IS PREDATION, WE GET E-MAIL, WHY DID OWE SHOW THAT?

RIGHT.

YOU ACTUALLY DON'T SHOW EVERYTHING YOU COULD.

EXACTLY.

I MEAN WE REALLY EDIT IT DOWN.

IT MUCH MORE HORRIFIC WHAT GOES ON IN THE WILD.

SO THERE IS A RESPONSIBILITY TO NOT JUST SHOW CUTE FUZZY ANIMALS KIND OF BEHAVING IN A WAY THAT WE THINK WE WOULDN'T WANT THEM TO BEHAVE.

THERE IS A REAL DARK SIDE TO A LOT OF WHAT'S GOING ON.

AND THE PANGOLIN, YOU KNOW, NOBODY HAS HEARD OF THIS ANIMAL.

IT IS NOT LIKE ELEPHANTS WHERE YOU SEE COMMERCIALS ON TELEVISION.

SO WE FELT IT WAS SUPER IMPORTANT THAT WE PUT THIS OUT THERE.

SO, YOU KNOW, YOU HAVE BEEN DOING THIS A LONG TIME.

YOU HAVE A LOT OF KNOWLEDGE, LOT OF EXPERIENCE.

WHAT IS YOUR GUESS?

CAN THE PANGOLINS BE SAVED?

I DON'T THINK THE ASIAN PANGOLIN CAN.

I THINK MORE HOPEFUL FOR THE AFRICAN PANGOLIN, YOU KNOW.

THE HARDER IT IS TO GET A PANGOLIN IN THE WILD THE MORE VALUABLE THE SCALES BECOME SO IT BECOME THIS IS CATCH 22 THING.

YOU KNOW, SO HARD TO -- WE DON'T EVEN KNOW HOW MANY PANGOLINS ARE LEFT.

WE DON'T KNOW MUCH ABOUT THEIR BIOLOGY.

SO WE JUST DON'T KNOW ENOUGH ABOUT THEM.

YEAH.

ALL RIGHT, FRED.

WELL LET'S HOPE FOR THE BEST FOR THE PANG LICENSE.

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING US.

THANK YOU.OLINS.

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING US.

THANK YOU.

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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