Pop-up pangolin card

Make and send a pop-up pangolin card. The cute pangolin mom playing with her pangopup appears when you open the card.

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For a pdf template and instructions, click on this image:
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Use your card to help raise awareness of pangolins! Send it to a friend who might not know that pangolins even exist. Add some pangolin facts to the front and back of the card.

  • Pangolins are mammals with large overlapping scales covering their bodies.
  • The scales are made of keratin, just like our fingernails.
  • 20% of a pangolin’s weight is comprised of scales.
  • As a defense against predators, they roll up into a ball. Even lions and tigers can’t prise them open.
  • A pangolin’s tongue is longer than it’s body. The tongue is sticky and they use them to catch ants and termites.
  • A pangolin can eat 70 million ants per year.
  • There are eight species of pangolin: four in Asia and four in Africa.
  • Sadly, a pangolin is snatched from the wild every five minutes! They are the most most illegally traded wild mammals on the planet. They are poached for their meat, which is eaten as a luxury dish in parts of their range, and their scales which are used in Traditional Asian Medicine.

Find out more about pangolins and the actions being taken to help them on The IUCN SSC Pangolin Specialist Group website

Click here for more pangolin crafts and colouring.

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Make a pangolin bauble for your Christmas tree

Add a Pangolin bauble to your Christmas tree to help raise awareness of these special animals.

Pangolin Christmas bauble

This bauble is has three layers: two outer decorated ones, and a third central one that helps provide the structure. All three slot into the square piece of card.

I used an old breakfast cereal box and scraps of wrapping paper for the scales.

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Pangolin Christmas bauble

Click on the image below to open a printable pdf, don’t forget to add an eye on each side.

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Other pangolin crafts for Christmas – pop-up card and easy pangolin baubles.

Pop-up pangolin Christmas card

Pangolin Christmas baubles

 

Find out more about Pipisin the Pangolin.

 

 

 

 

Four things I learnt from travel to the Philippines

I am fortunate that I’ve had the opportunity to visit some of the top tourist spots in the Philippines: I’ve climbed Taal volcano, gazed in wonder at the Chocolate Hills, floated on the green Loboc River, rafted down the rapids of Pagsanjan River, swum from a sand bar into a warm turquoise sea and looked in awe on Mount Mayon. I discovered a country of real beauty, of dreamy beaches and dramatic mountains. But my time spent in the Philippines is much more than memories filed away in dusty photo albums. I may be thousands of miles away but the Philippines is part of my here and now. It shaped who I am today. So I’ve tried to distill it down to why it had such an impact, this is what I came up with:

The Chocolate Hills, Bohol

  1. Smile

Whilst visiting the Philippines for the first time, I was often asked “What will you take back from the Philippines?” It sounds a bit silly but my answer was always “the smiles”. As part of an exchange visit organised by Rotary Clubs in Laguna and Bicol, we visited lots of schools and community-based projects. Everywhere we went, we were greeted with beautiful smiles.

The smiles are still with me, though sometimes, I do have to remind myself to smile more.

Filipino kids smiling and laughing

  1. Biodiversity is truly diverse

The wildlife in the Philippines astounds me. I’ve been lucky enough to see wide-eyed tarsiers and swim with wide-mouthed whale sharks, but there is so much more. Although most of it I will never see, it is fascinating to discover that there are unique species of mice found on single mountain tops and to see how bleeding-heart doves have have evolved to have different plumage on different islands.

It’s also simple things that really made me stop and think: the funky centipedes, colourful beetles and the ridiculous number butterflies – I was amazed to see twenty-two different species of butterfly on one short walk!

I have worked in wildlife conservation all my working life, I know what biodiversity means but only in the Philippines did I truly witness it.

Philippine tarsier

  1. The power of community spirit

Children danced for us when we visited this school on the shores of Laguna de Bay; the next time I saw an image of the school was six months later; adults were wading through water that was up to their chests.

Typhoon Ondoy (Ketsana) had stuck with all its might. The moment when I heard about it on the radio, in a BBC news broadcast, is permanently etched into my mind. But it was what happened immediately after the typhoon was inspiring. My Facebook news feed and email inbox filled with updates from Filipinos I’d met. They took immediate action to help those affected, delivering food, clothing, whatever was needed in their communities.

All communities come together and support each other in times of need; it is the human spirit. But in the Philippines, there’s even a word for it bayanihan. 

(Read more about it on this blog: The Bayanihan Spirit).

School children dancing

  1. To embrace the inspiration

Spending time in the Philippines changed my perspective and sparked my imagination.

After visiting the Philippines I started drawing again (which I hadn’t done for years) and began to write stories. I didn’t set out to be an author; that some of my stories became published picture books in the Philippines is remarkable. Maybe they will help raise awareness of some of the wildlife in the Philippines, before it is too late.

Measured in miles I am a long way from these islands that continue to inspire me, sometimes it feels a little crazy, but I have decided just to carry on. To embrace the inspiration and see where the stories and pictures take me.

And I hope, in a small way, it gives something back to the children that greeted us with their smiles.

School children with picture books donated by the Rotary Club of West Bay, Laguna

 

Diwa in the community

Distribution of Diwa the Dugong picture books and dugong posters in Busuanga

With the help of her friends from Community Centred Conservation (C3), Diwa the Dugong has been busy raising awareness of dugongs from Busuanga and Ortigas City.

Distribution of Diwa the Dugong picture books and dugong posters in BusuangaC3 Philippines team conducted awareness campaign on dugong conservation in Calawit National High school and Barangay Bogtong. The team distributed Dugong-Seagrass posters and Diwa the Dugong books for teachers and community members.

Distribution of Diwa the Dugong picture books and dugong posters in Busuanga

 

Diwa the Dugong books were also sold during the First National Biodiversity Congress held in May at Ortigas City, Mandaluyong.

Diwa the Dugong at the First National Biodiversity Congress

Copies of the picture book Diwa the Dugong are available from Bookmark the Filipino Bookstore and Pumplepie Books & Happiness.

Relax and colour your own snoozing binturong

Also known as a bearcat, even though they aren’t bears or cats, binturongs are large civets from south-east Asia that smell like buttered popcorn.

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Binturongs live in the canopy of tropical forests and will sleep high in tree branches, curling up with their heads tucked under their tails. They are one of only two carnivores (the other is the kinkajou) with a prehensile tail. The tail is almost as long as the body and acts like another limb when climbing.

They play an important role in spreading the seeds of the fruits that they eat. They are also one of the few animals animals with digestive enzymes capable of softening the tough outer covering of the seeds of strangler figs.

Considered rare throughout much of its range, the binturong is believed to be declining and is classed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List. There are nine described subspecies of binturong, although the Palawan population (Arctictis binturong whitei) is often considered as a separate species.

 

 Colour a binturong

Click on the image for a printable pdf:

bearcat colouring

World Binturong Day is organised by ABConservation – the one and only association in the world that is entirely dedicated to the study and protection of binturongs. Find out more about their website and like them on Facebook.

 

Panay: paradise in north-west England?

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Somewhat colder than the original Panay in the Philippines; this is the Panay at Chester Zoo in the north-west of the England.

I had wanted to visit since I heard about their ‘Islands’ exhibit inspired by islands South-East Asia including Panay. Finally, I had the chance to explore.

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Visiting the zoo is like exploring; it feels like there is an element of luck in whether you will see the animals or not. Luckily I spotted what I had come to see and lots more. Top of my list was the Visayan warty pig – one of the rarest pigs on the planet and my very own picture book heroine Mayumi.

dscf8865This was my first face-to-face encounter with a Visayan warty pig: she looked happy chewing on leaves and was totally oblivious of me and everyone else (which is exactly how it should be).

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It’s not just the human visitors that get to explore, the animals appeared to have space to explore too.

There are just a few hundred Visayan warty pigs thought to be surviving in the wild; living in fragments of forest on the islands of Panay and Negros. Without intervention it is likely that they would disappear entirely. The conservation work of zoos like Chester Zoo, and the support they give to conservation initiatives in the Philippines, is vitally important.

dscf8878Visayan warty pig – now found only on the islands of Panay and Negros, this critically endangered wildlife pig is perhaps the rarest pigs in the world. Some estimate at there being just 200 individuals left living in the wild

dscf8898Philippine or Visayan spotted deer – endemic to the islands of the central Philippines but now thought to be found only on Panay and Negros

dscf8929Mindanao bleeding heart-dove one of the bleeding-heart doves that are endemic to the Philippines

I also saw but didn’t  photograph: Philippine mouse-deer, Visayan tarictic hornbills, Mindanao hornbill, Palawan peacock pheasant and Northern Luzon cloud rat. The cloud rat proved to be the hardest to see. Being nocturnal, it’s enclosure is darkened and the animals still aren’t very active during the day. I stood watching for ages until I was rewarded with a brief glimpse before it retreated back into its nesting box.

The Philippine species weren’t all in the islands area of the zoo, I had to seek them out and I know I missed some. But there is some much to see. My other highlights were young orangutans playing on a rope swing and rolling down a hill (it looked like loads of fun), the painted dogs, aardvarks fast asleep and dreaming, an aye-aye and the amazing fruit bat cave.

Oh and I should have mentioned I saw one of the Visayan warty pigs have a poo too! It made me happy because pig poo is a very important part of Mayumi’s story.

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