Global Pangolin Awareness Art Campaign

Completed Pangolin Artwork. Photo provided by OneMoreGeneration.org

Photo provided by OneMoreGeneration.org

Hey, everyone! It’s Olivia from OMG here.

This month I have the pleasure of introducing everyone to one of my favorite animals in the world—the pangolin. Yes, I spelled it correctly, and I did not say penguin! I am talking about pangolins, which surprisingly and sadly are now considered the most poached and trafficked mammal on the planet—and most people don’t even know what they are.

My brother and I saw our first pangolin in Vietnam a few years ago. Since then, we have been reaching out to pangolin experts and working on creating a campaign that will help raise awareness about the species.

Louise Fletcher working with pangolin poachers in an effort to get their support to save pangolins instead of killing them. Picture provided by Louise Fletcher

Louise Fletcher workw with pangolin poachers in an effort to get their support to save pangolins instead of killing them. Picture provided by Louise Fletcher

Louise Fletcher is a well-respected pangolin expert and an accomplished artist. She lives in the UK but spends a lot of time in Asia helping pangolins. With her help, we recently launched our year-long Pangolin Awareness Art Campaign. Louise recently visited us, so I asked her to write up a little something about the project.

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By Louise Fletcher

The pangolin has reached the status of “most trafficked mammal you’ve never heard of”, with figures of up to one million having been poached over the past decade. That works out at one #Every5mins. With the future of all eight pangolin species hanging in the balance, the need for education about their plight is imperative.

The pangolin, often referred to as an armored anteater, is covered in a layer of keratin scales, which predators as fearsome as lions and tigers are unable to penetrate. However, this successful defense against natural predation does nothing when facing the wrath of human greed. So, what could be more fitting than for those working to rebuild and strengthen a pangolin’s armor pledging themselves as Pangolin Protectors?

For the past six years, the third Saturday in February has been marked as World Pangolin Day, an event that has grown in following since its birth. World Pangolin Day 2017 saw the launch of One More Generation’s (OMG) Pangolin Awareness Art Campaign, combining art, literacy, science, and social studies to develop an installation with a message from the youth around the world.

For the launch of the campaign, students at several schools in Georgia and New York attended a workshop that culminated in the display of a banner with a “fully protected” pangolin. The students were first introduced to what a pangolin is, sometimes through reading A Pangolin Tale. They were presented with a painted banner of a pangolin and a pango-pup—but the pangolin had no scales. Their task was to color or design scales that would cover the animal and provide protection. Many of these scales had sketches of pangolins drawn on them by artists from across the world, including countries where the pangolin resides, adding a truly collaborative element to the artwork.

Older students were encouraged to incorporate the colors of a flag of a country in which the animal lives. While designing the scales, they were also asked questions that researchers face every day when trying to conserve these species. For example: How would you talk to a farmer who has previously poached pangolin so that he has enough money to feed his family?

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Louise teaches students at Northwood Elementary all about pangolins. Image provided by OneMoreGeneration.org

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Check out these cool pangolin scales, which incorporate the colors of the country flags where pangolin can still be found. Image provided by OneMoreGeneration.org

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Louise teaches students at the SKA Art Academy all about pangolins. These gifted artists will be creating custom pangolin scales for their banner as well. Image provided by OneMoreGeneration.org

We want each banner to both educate those who view it, but also be personal to the place and the people who produced it. For this, we added another dimension and asked students to think of a landmark in their hometown or country and to place their pangolin there. Each student had a fact about the animal and was given 10 minutes of free writing to produce a short story incorporating the landmark and the fact—with some wonderful results. In fact, Carter Ries of OMG in recognition of World Wildlife Day will present the banner produced by the Hewitt School in New York at the UN.

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Image provided by OneMoreGeneration.org

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Image provided by OneMoreGeneration.org

We hope the production of pangolin banners will be done in schools and zoos across the world, with the banners being displayed in pangolin range country airports where high foot-traffic will ensure the message can be spread widely.  The OMG kids are also speaking with the Smithsonian Institution, the U.S. State Department, and even Nat Geo’s HQ about placing some of the banners from around the world on display.

This project is a collaboration between Olivia and Carter Ries from One More Generation, Artists and Biologists Unite for Nature, Jason Derry from Oakenday Press and myself, Louise Fletcher, from the IUCN SSC Pangolin Specialist Group.

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Louise speaks with and Northwood Elementary school principal Dr. Ritu Ahuja. Image provided by OneMoreGeneration.org

If you would like to get your school or local community organization involved in the Pangolin Awareness Art Campaign, please send us an email at info@OneMoreGeneration.org and we will gladly help you out. Pangolins are cool and with your help, we can make a difference.  If you would like to learn more about what you can do to save pangolins and to see cool videos, visit the pangolin page on our website.

That is all for this month’s article, stay tuned next month as we introduce you to our friends at City Compost.

Olivia Ries is our National Geographic Society Youth Empowerment writer. Together with her brother, Carter, she hopes to inspire others to realize that “Anybody can make a difference… if they can, you can too.” Make sure to check out their TEDxYouth presentation along with their website at OneMoreGeneration.org and also ‘LIKE’ their FaceBook page as well

6 responses to “Global Pangolin Awareness Art Campaign

  1. Hey Olivia!

    Whoa! I never knew the existence of Pangolin until i read this article! I thought it was some mythical creature until I saw those sketches. When I surfed through the Internet about this animal, I found that it exists in Singapore – the country I live in! Not only that, but also I found that a specific kind of Pangolins, the Sunda Pangolins, actually lives in a forest reserve located near the pathway in which I travel almost daily!! Thank you for the knowledge!!


    L.R.
    THE RINK

    Like

      • I would love to! I am actually a university student here… I came here only a few months ago and so, I don’t the local community very well. However, I will send a letter over to the community club!


        L.R.
        THE RINK

        Like

  2. What are the poachers doing with the pangolins? Selling them? For food, rituals? Healing tradition?

    Like

    • All the above. Pangolin scales are believed to have medicinal value in parts of Asia and the meat is considered a delicacy in some countries. Sadly, that demand is driving them to the brink of extinction but you can help by sharing what you have learned with everyone you know and by bringing our Pangolin Awareness Art Campaign to your community 😉

      Like

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