• India is home to two of eight species of pangolins found in the world. These are the Chinese pangolin and the Indian pangolin.
• The pangolin or scaly anteater is considered the world’s most trafficked animal. All eight species are protected, and trade in pangolins is banned.
• Youth from Karbi Anglong district are recasting the pangolin as their mascot and driving an awareness campaign to curb its hunting.
Following sustained reports of pangolin hunting in the Karbi Anglong district of Assam, a collective of local youth have launched a campaign to save this unique species. The ‘Save Karpu’ campaign has been initiated by members of Longri Chingthur Initiative Foundation and Youth for Nature. ‘Karpu’ is the Karbi word for ‘pangolin’. The campaign was launched at an event held on the morning of February 18, 2021 in Diphu.
The hilly district of Karbi Anglong is rich in biodiversity and harbours many rare species, including the critically endangered Chinese pangolin. The pangolin is considered the world’s most-trafficked animal, and is targeted for its scales which are used in Traditional Chinese Medicines. Instances of pangolin poaching have been regularly documented in Karbi Anglong district. Three traffickers were arrested with a live pangolin and 1.2 kg. of pangoin scales as recently as November 2020.
The young environmentalists of the ‘Save Karpu’ campaign launched the initiative with the release of five posters created by volunteer graphic designer Tosha Jagad. The posters are in both English and Karbi language and are intended for public display at places such as local shops and bus stands, as well as on social media. The team has also started to conduct awareness workshops and presentations for Self Help Groups, school students, traditional healers and village committees in the region. The campaign will also be spotlit at the upcoming Karbi Youth Festival, which is expected to receive heavy footfall.
Serlibon Timungpi, Secretary, Youth for Nature, and a core member of the campaign team, says:
“Most community members are not aware of the endangered status of the pangolin and that hunting it is a punishable offence. We wish to create awareness about the pangolin, and pride that Karbi Anglong is home to this rare species. This is why we have chosen the slogan “Save Karpu, Save Karbi Pride.”
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Poster by Tosha Jagad.