Tales From The Treehouse
A Word on the Impossible Charm and Pizzazz of the Pangolin
Never mind Vespas, I want a pangolin. Not nearly as practical but twice as cute. For yes, to my great surprise, something covered in scales can be every bit as cute as a fluffy kitten or a plump poodle puppy. This I learned on a recent excursion to a game ranch an hour's drive from here, where, due to impeccable if completely coincidental timing, we were treated to a very special event - the release of a rescued pangolin mama and her two babies into the wild. With a few thousand hectares of managed and protected wilderness all around, they should have a fighting chance at escaping the clutches of the Chinese, who seem to stop at nothing, including scales, to add vulnerable, odd and bizarre items to their menu.
I had no idea, until a few years back, as is true of most of the world at large, that the Chinese are, in a word, colonizing Africa, and doing so with voracious appetites and little to no respect or regard for the magnificent and diverse wilderness of this extraordinary, but rapidly deteriorating, continent. They are bribing, eating, logging and paving their way through Africa, a continent already stressed to the max by population explosion. It can be so disheartening, the Africa of my childhood sometimes seems but a bittersweet memory whispering sweet nothings in my heart, but to see these little guys and their mama hustle up a tree and out of sight in short order gave me that little shiver of something bright and bodacious we call Hope. Thanks to a great many resilient and passionately committed people all over Africa, many of whom we would call mad, for in a world committed to common denominators passion is often mistaken for such, wildlife finds sanctuary, and life goes on, for now.
On that happier note, can I just say that perhaps you haven't quite lived until you have held the timid and gentle little pangolin in your hands, watched his little pink tongue taste the air, and seen him cling to his mama's tail as she fled up a tree to freedom...it is good to know there are a people all over the world fighting for their survival, like the fellow who saved this one with his promise to the locals of matching and outbidding the Chinese for the life of a pangolin.
In closing, here's a fun fact - the pangolins even have their own parade. It's called The Pangolin Parade. Wonder how they thought of that. That conjures up any number of silly images, but really, they have all the charm and pizzzazz they could possibly wish for, just the way they are.