Ietermagog, scaly anteater, pangolin, – all the same thing, all at risk of being wiped out
A landmark conservation film on the scaly anteater has just been launched worldwide but not through the usual distribution channels. Titled the “Eye of the Pangolin,” this major cinematic event has premièred on the Pangolin.Africa website and on YouTube.
Shot by wildlife filmmakers Bruce Young and Johan Vermeulen, it chronicles the fate of the four pangolin species found in Africa. Its intention is to place the spotlight on the illegal trade in pangolin scales primarily as a medicinal placebo for delusional Chinese consumers.
As the two travelled the continent to learn more about those caring for and studying pangolins they were captivated by these strange, secretive creatures. They simply had to document the race to save them from being poached to extinction. The filmmakers’ quest took them to South Africa, Ghana and the Central African Republic where they shot footage of both the terrestrial and the arboreal species.
In a pre-release statement, Young and Vermeulen said their target is to garner ten million views, in the process harnessing the immense power of digital media to take awareness of the pangolin’s fate to the rest of the world.
Young said: “Our goal is to make Eye of the Pangolin one of the most watched wildlife documentaries ever so we have made it freely available to screen to anyone in the world via the Pangolin.Africa website. So many people don’t even know what a pangolin is. If people take a look at the wild world around them and reassess their relationship with it and its wildlife, then there’s a chance we’ll save these mystical creatures. We are asking people to share the link with everyone they know so that we can hopefully reach a global audience of millions.”
Vermeulen added “There are still many people that haven’t even heard of a pangolin. If we can change that, if we can educate them and inform them about the threats it is facing, then we have achieved what we have set out to. The most important thing is to make the users of pangolin scales realise that a pangolin scale, just like rhino horn, is nothing more than just keratin.”
Pangolin scales are smuggled out of Africa by the ton. Considering that 1900 pangolins must be killed to harvest one ton of scales, this year alone almost 50,000 pangolins have been killed, and that accounts only for the contraband shipments that were discovered.
The filmmakers intend to screen their documentary at wildlife and conservation film festivals and to employ it as an educational tool at schools and institutions across the continent.