Target: Dr. Rajesh Kumar Mohapatra, research fellow of the Nandankanan Zoological Park
Goal: Commend conservation research and captive breeding program conducted by Nandankanan Zoological Park.
There is little research on the behavioral ecology of Indian pangolins because of their solitary nocturnal behaviors and declining wild populations from overhunting. While they are protected by national legislation, they are heavily exploited for their meat, skins, oil, and scales. Their scales are used in traditional medicine as aphrodisiacs and made into good luck charms. Fortunately, the Nandankanan Zoological Park in in Bhubaneswar, Odisha, India is working to conserve Indian pangolins from extinction with an extensive research program.
Pangolins are fascinating insectivorous mammals that are found in tropical regions of Africa and Asia. The Indian pangolin is uncommon in its range in India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan. It has a thick tail and large overlapping keratin scales, which act as armor to protect against predators. Pangolins roll themselves into balls for self defense, which unfortunately causes them to be easily caught by human hunters. These toothless nocturnal animals use their well-developed sense of smell to find insects such as termites and ants. Lacking the ability to chew, they instead use powerful claws to tear open anthills and termite mounds and probe them with a long tongue covered in sticky saliva.
The Nandankanan Zoological Park is the first zoo in India to successfully breed pangolins. The zoo’s Pangolin Conservation Breeding Center studies the animals’ behavior, physiology, reproduction, nutrition, and diseases that they may get. Without such programs, it is difficult to understand biological and behavioral aspects of these increasingly rare animals. Improved understanding of pangolins will aid in their conservation as we learn about what they require for survival. Research fellows also help to dispel misconceptions of pangolins as dangerous animals due to their scaly appearance. They are completely harmless except for their sharp scales, which one does not have to worry about unless they attempt to handle the wild animals without caution.
Please sign this petition to commend the Nandankanan Zoological Park’s researchers for their efforts that promote the conservation of pangolins.
Dear Dr. Rajesh Kumar Mohapatra,
I would like to commend the Nandankanan Zoological Park’s impressive efforts to conserve threatened pangolins by increasing the understanding of these mysterious and rare animals and for maintaining a successful captive breeding program. Your researchers are making great discoveries about pangolin behavior and biology that will assist international conservation goals. Improved knowledge about the behavioral ecology of animals that need protection in the wild is essential for assessing threats of their survival and for determining how humans can take action to protect them. Without the conservation research program that takes place in your zoo, it would be difficult to study the behavior of these nocturnal, agile, and rare creatures.
Through the understanding of pangolin behavior and their important ecological niche, your zoo’s program also helps to foster respect for these misperceived animals. Thank you for emphasizing the uniqueness of pangolins and for helping to change negative attitudes toward them. Conservation education offered by the Nandankanan Zoological Park brings awareness to the human threats that pangolins face, their importance to ecosystems, and their social significance as a natural resource that India’s communities must protect. Please continue to promote conservation through education and research.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: leafwarbler via Flickr.