Discover the secrets of ‘astounding pangolins’ in a stunning children’s animation, accompanied by a plea to ensure their safety.

On Friday, February 16th, 2024, TRAFFIC, an international organization that works to prevent illegal trade in wild species, released an animated story in celebration of World Pangolin Day (Saturday, February 17th). The animation, titled “The Astounding Secret Pangolin,” is based on the picture book of the same name by UK-based illustrator Jeanette Ward and author and book designer Mary Hays. The story follows the journey of a pangolin, a unique mammal known for its scales, as it faces the threat of poachers and traffickers.

Pangolins are believed to be the most trafficked mammal in the world, with several species facing the brink of extinction due to the demand for their scales. TRAFFIC’s animation, lesson plans, and activities aim to educate young students about the importance of pangolins and the dangers they face in the wild.

The animation was brought to life by Malaysian-based animator Faril Izzadi Mohd Noor, who previously worked as a graphic designer for TRAFFIC’s Southeast Asia program office and continues to volunteer with the organization. The four-minute animation is designed for young students and is accompanied by English language and art exercises to showcase the unique features of pangolins.

Mary Hays first had the idea for the picture book when she learned about the plight of pangolins and approached Jeanette Ward to illustrate it. Inspired by TRAFFIC’s work on pangolins, the duo donated the use of the book’s words and images to the organization. They worked with TRAFFIC’s Southeast Asia communications team to develop the animation and learning materials that encapsulate the wonder of the species and its fight for survival.

Director for TRAFFIC in Southeast Asia, Kanitha Krishnasamy, expressed her gratitude to Hays, Ward, and Faril for their contribution to the project and their partnership with TRAFFIC. She hopes that the animation will ignite curiosity and interest in conservation among young minds and educators.

The animation is narrated by Eleanor Hays, who takes viewers through the pangolin’s unique features and behavior, the threat of poachers, and the call for heroes to make the forest safe again. The illustration of a mother pangolin and its pup is inspired by the Sunda Pangolin Manis javanica, one of the world’s eight recognized species of pangolin found in Southeast Asia.

While Southeast Asia is a major source and consumer of Asian pangolin species, it is also a destination and transit point for trafficked African pangolin species. Despite the prohibition of all pangolin species from commercial international trade since 2019, criminal networks continue to source and traffic pangolins in alarming numbers.

Between 2014 and 2023, over 2,300 pangolin trafficking seizures were recorded across Asia, resulting in the confiscation of 419 tonnes of pangolin parts, including almost 48,500 whole individuals and 319 tonnes of pangolin scales. TRAFFIC’s animation and educational materials aim to raise awareness about the plight of pangolins and the importance of protecting them for future generations.

Derick is an experienced reporter having held multiple senior roles for large publishers across Europe. Specialist subjects include small business and financial emerging markets.

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