The picture book: Pipisin is living on his own for the first time and is struggling to find his favourite food: ants. He’s scared of lots of things. When he hears strange noises or comes across animals, he rolls into a ball until he feels safe again. Then one day, he’s the only one who can help other animals that are trapped and he has to be brave.
All the animals Pipisin meets are found on the island of Palawan.
Illustrated by Rachel Shaw
Pipisin is a Philippine pangolin (Manis culionensis), found only on the island of Palawan. There are eight species of pangolin in the world: four in Asia and four in Africa.
Pangolins are perhaps one of the strangest of animals. They are mammals but with their covering of scales look more like reptiles or dinosaurs. Their defensive mechanism of rolling into a tight ball works remarkably well even against lions but sadly poachers just pick them up and carry them away. Pangolins are one of the most trafficked animals in the world.
There’s more information about all eight species of pangolin on the IUCN/SSC Pangolin Specialist Group website.
When people sell or exchange wild animals or plants this is called wildlife trade. Every year millions of animals and plants are caught or harvested from the wild and sold as food, medicine, pets or for clothing or ornaments.
Some of this trade is legal and does not harm the wild populations but some trade is illegal. Illegal wildlife trade has the potential to be very damaging and threatens the survival of endangered plants and animals.
In the story, hunters have dug a hole to trap animals. Both pangolins and bearcats are trapped: bearcats for the pet trade and pangolins to be used as food and medicine. Pangolins are endangered and to trap them and trade them is illegal. All eight species of pangolin are illegally traded mainly to China and Vietnam where they are served in expensive restaurants or their scales are made into medicine. There is no scientific basis to their use as medicine; their scales are made of keratin – the same as our hair and fingernails.
- Can you re-tell the story from the point of view of the bearcat?
- Design a poster to raise awareness about the tens of thousands of pangolins that are illegally killed every year for their scales and to be eaten
- Make your own pangolins from card or felt. There’s instructions on the pangolin crafts page.
- Pipisin the Pangolin colouring sheets. Click on the pictures and print out a pdf to colour in.
Ten amazing facts about pangolins pdf – from Project Pangolin
Things you should know about pangolins pdf – via Danau Girang Field Centre, Sabah, Malaysia
Save Pangolins pdf – from Danau Girang Field Centre, Sabah, Malaysia