In case you didn’t hear, a Philippine pangolin was rescued from Ayala Alabang Village—again. Pandi the Pangolin (yes, named after the word “pandemic”) was found roaming the tree-lined streets of one of the most prominent neighborhoods in the country yesterday. Sad to say, finding pangolins in exclusive villages isn’t a one-time occurrence.
This begs the question, why are people keeping exotic animals in their homes?
For pangolins, it might have a financial implication. In case you didn’t know, pangolins are the most trafficked animals in the world. Aside from being exotic delicacies in some parts of China, they are also said to have health benefits—which aren’t scientifically backed, by the way.
Locally, the illegal pangolin trade is also booming. Almost 7,000 pangolins were seized between 2017 and 2019. If they weren’t, these animals would have gone on to become off-menu dishes in restaurants around the country. These off-menu delicacies would have gone for P30,000 to P40,000 a serving.
While we can’t say that the pangolin’s presence in Ayala Alabang was trafficking for sure, it still begs the question: What was a pangolin doing in an exclusive village?
Pangolins do not belong in the city. Neither do any other exotic pets that people might keep at home (like peacocks, ostriches, and the like). Wild animals are rapidly losing their homes, which is why some of them might pop up in cities—assuming they’re not trafficked. Losing trees isn’t the only side effect of deforestation and mining. Because we’re destroying the natural habitat of these animals, we tend to find them struggling to survive.
As our laws stand, they’re not nearly enough to protect wildlife. In 2019, three men were caught smuggling 10 Philippine pangolins. They were sentenced to a mere 3 months in prison and ordered to pay a P20,000 fine each. Basically, a slap on the wrist.
The pangolins, on the other hand, did not get as much mercy. Of the 10 trafficked mammals, only 3 survived and were repatriated to Palawan. The 7 died in captivity.
Animals need a home to maintain the natural balance of the world we live in. Things like climate change and rising sea levels don’t just affect us, they affect fauna too. Respecting nature is the least we could possibly do. So please, reduce, reuse, recycle, and don’t keep exotic animals at home.