Sandslash, the ground-type Pokémon that can roll and slash like Muhammad Ali bobbed and weaved, is adept at battling various foes (especially the ones that don’t fly), and making its trainer proud with earthshakingly powerful attacks. The pangolin on the other hand, Sandslash’s real-life doppelgänger, is a scaly mammal from Africa and Asia who’s not nearly as fortunate in the whole “fighting” department.
Unlike Sandslash, who can shred and shake opponents with his claws, quills, and earthquakes, the pangolin really only has one move that it shares with its more battle-ready brother: rolling up in a ball and totally noping out on fighting. Pangolins are also exceptionally slow, as they have to balance on their hind legs and tail while moving forward at a hunched angle that makes Moleman’s posture seem reasonable by comparison.
The pangolin isn’t completely inept however, as it can use its claws and long tongue (which is heavily lubricated thanks to a super-active salivary gland) to dig up ant colonies and eat the lot of them. And thanks to the wonders of natural selection, pangolins’ noses and ears can also be completely closed to prevent stinging ants from doing any real damage to them while they’re eating.
Unfortunately, despite its keratin armor and seriously neat physiological quirks, all eight species of the pangolin are listed as either vulnerable or endangered. NPR also reports that Jeff Flocken, a regional director of the International Fund for Animal Welfare, claims they’re the most trafficked mammal in the world thanks to high demand by China’s fine cuisine and fake medicine markets.
Luckily, there are people out there who have tasked themselves with protecting pangolins, like Rosemarie Gnam of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. But even though she’s helping to stop trafficking in its tracks, she says that it’s important “to put the word out there about pangolins, [by] building on the public’s awareness of the rhino and elephant.” Which means now may be the time to use CONSERVE. It’s super effective.
Are you now inspired to help protect these precious little pangolins? Watch the NatGeoWild video below for more pangolin education, and then let us know what you’re thinking about these adorable Pokémon in the comments section below!