Soon after I was appointed to work at Yala National Park I took two guests on a Safari. It was the 09th of December and around 8.00am I noticed a carcass near the road and stopped to get a closer look. I identified it as a dead Pangolin.

Pangolins are one of the rarest mammal species in Sri Lanka and we were very sorry to see such a lovely specimen dead. Unfortunately, it was killed by an irresponsible jeep driver. A scavenger had finished things off by eating all the edible bits in the ventral part of its body.

Pangolins which live in Sri Lanka commonly known as Indian Pangolin (Manis crassicaudata) and are categorized as an endangered mammal according to the National Red List. They are nocturnal and solitary animals who feed primarily on ants and termites which they supplement with various other invertebrates including earthworms, flies, crickets and bee larvae. Their unique defense mechanism against enemies is to roll into a ball flexing its tail and neck.

There are eight species of Pangolins in the world and all of them are in danger of extinction. As a predator of insects pangolins do a great job in balancing the ecosystem. If those animals were to go extinct the earth too will subtly change and things will never be the same.

Story and photo : Dhanula Jayasinghe, Naturalist, Eco Team Pvt Ltd.

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