Endangered Chinese pangolin rarely seen in Hong Kong country parks picked up near Sha Tin bicycle shop
Passer-by spots 90cm male adult in heavily built-up neighbourhood
A Chinese pangolin was taken to a shelter by Hong Kong conservation authorities on Thursday morning after it was found digging in a heavily built-up neighbourhood and not in a country park where it is usually found.
The critically endangered ant-eating mammal – one of the city’s rarest species and only seen occasionally in and around country parks – was found wandering in bushes near a bicycle shop along Yuen Wo Road.
The passer-by spotted it and called police, then notified the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department.
Department staff said they picked up the pangolin at Sha Tin police station, a 90cm male adult, and took it to Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden for a veterinary check. “The animal was found to be in good health and will be released back into the wild in due course,” a department spokesman said.
Pangolins are identifiable by their grayish-brown scales, which cover most of their body like a layer of armour as well as their large, re-curved claws. They are known to curl up into a ball and raise the razor-sharp scales when threatened.
The department has said the Chinese pangolin, one of 57 terrestrial mammal species in Hong Kong, is perhaps “the most spectacular and threatened” of all species locally. Sightings, while recorded in many parts of the territory, are rare.
The animal is found in the Himalayan foothills, parts of South Asia and northern Southeast Asia as well as parts of southern China, such as Hong Kong.
It is highly prized for use in traditional Chinese medicine and illegally hunted for its meat and scales, which are in high demand on the mainland.
Because of the perils it faces, the Chinese pangolin is listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as a “critically endangered” species. All eight pangolin species, including the Chinese pangolin, are protected under national and international laws.
Their numbers have fallen dramatically in the last decade, and some studies have predicted continuing declines of about over 90 per cent in the next three generations.