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Protecting one of Asia's most formidable apex predators may not seem like the most obvious way to help another species that might be on its dinner menu, but that is precisely what Fauna & Flora International (FFI) is doing in Sumatra's Kerinci Seblat National Park, the second-largest national park in Southeast Asia.
In theory, a pangolin would make a handy bite-sized snack for a Sumatran tiger, but in reality, an encounter with a hungry feline is the least of its worries. Thanks to their cloak of tough, overlapping scales, pangolins can protect themselves against even the most determined natural predators by the simple expedient of rolling into a virtually impenetrable ball.
Technique - Defence - Humans - Tonnage - Anteaters
Unfortunately, this technique is no defence against humans. The total tonnage of these scaly anteaters that fall victim to the illegal wildlife trade is staggering. More than a million pangolins are estimated to have been taken from the wild since 2000.
Asian pangolin populations have crashed so dramatically in the face of this poaching onslaught that traffickers are resorting to African species in order to satisfy the demand for their meat and scales, particularly from China and Vietnam.
FFI - Sumatran - Tiger - Conservation - Efforts
So how can FFI's Sumatran tiger conservation efforts be tipping the scales in the pangolin's favour? The answer lies in the formidable anti-poaching network that FFI has built up during almost two decades of collaboration with the national park authorities, communities, police, judiciary and local government. One of Asia's longest running law enforcement programmes, this pioneering initiative is now widely acknowledged as a global model for tiger protection.
Central to its success are highly trained Tiger Protection and Conservation Units led by national park rangers working alongside recruits...
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