The Plight of the Pangolin
I’m delighted to announce the release of this bronze pangolin sculpture. I’ve long been captivated by the pangolin’s beautiful form and delicate scales. But the world’s most heavily trafficked animal has been getting much wider attention lately.
When a novel coronavirus emerged in China’s Wuhan city in 2019, the pangolin was high on the list of suspect host animals. This is no surprise. The animal’s meat is valued as a delicacy. And the pangolin’s body parts are much used in traditional Chinese medicine, even though scientists have confirmed they have no medicinal or therapeutic value. A treaty signed by over 180 national governments in 2016 was supposed to end the legal trade in pangolins in an effort to save them from extinction. However, the illegal trade on the black market continued to thrive.
Post-Wuhan, the Chinese authorities have acted to ban the sale of wild animals for food, citing the risk of diseases spreading to humans. Furthermore, the use of pangolin scales in traditional medicines is no longer allowed. This is a huge step forward. An estimated 195,000 pangolins were trafficked in 2019 for their scales alone.
It remains to be seen how rigorously the ban will be enforced. However, these recent changes – both to the law and to public perception – can only help the plight of the pangolin. But what exactly is a pangolin, this extraordinary creature that resembles a walking pine cone? And why was I inspired to sculpture one?
Despite its scaly appearance, the pangolin is not a reptile but a mammal. It is actually the only mammal in the world wholly covered in scales. Pangolins use these scales to protect themselves from predators in the wild. When threatened, they curl themselves into a tight ball and, if necessary, can use their sharp scaled tails to defend themselves.
I wanted my bronze pangolin sculpture to celebrate its beautiful flowing form as it uncurls from its defensive ball. Capturing the intricacy of its scales was truly a labour of love, each one having to be painstakingly modelled. Pangolins have very little colour. They have evolved to blend in the dirt. This means they are perfectly suited to bronze, which emphasises shape, form and texture.
Pangolin in bronze is release in a limited edition of 9 and is available to order now. International delivery by arrangement.