It is now widely recognised that the key to change is education, and the powerful voices that can drive that change belong to the youth of the planet. Several critical decisions have come out of the CITES CoP17 held in Johannesburg in 2016, including the engagement of local communities in conservation, capacity building and youth engagement. One way in which to achieve this is through to use of art to reach the people who play an intrinsic role in the conservation of our natural world. The plight of the pangolin has reached such critical levels that it is now known as the ‘most trafficked mammal you’ve never heard of’. It is estimated that we have lost over 1-million pangolins in the last decade alone. That means we are losing one pangolin every 5-minutes (#Every5Minutes) or 288 pangolins per day (compare that to 96 elephants per day).
Photo by 1StopBorneo.
Local youth organisation One More Generation (OMG) have launched a global Pangolin Awareness Campaign, combining art, literacy, science and social studies to develop an installation with a message from youth around the world. Pangolin Awareness – Strengthen its armour, is a campaign that uses education as a vehicle to raise awareness and empathy for the species and inspire others around the world to get involved. Its objective is to create a series of banners from students all over the world in and out of pangolin range countries, and create an art installation to highlight a global call to protect these species.
The pangolin, often referred to as an armoured anteater, is covered in a layer of keratin scales which leaves predators as fearsome as lions and tigers unable to penetrate its armour. However, this successful defense against natural predation does nothing when facing the wrath of human greed. What could be more fitting than for those representing the future to be the ones to rebuild and strengthen the pangolin’s armour, pledging themselves as Pangolin Protectors?
By U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Headquarters - Manis temminckii, CC BY 2.0.
The launch of the campaign took place at schools in Georgia and New York, has been taken to South Africa and will also be introduced in Nepal over the summer months. On World Wildlife Day a completed banner was presented at the UN by students of The Hewitt Girls School.
Students were first introduced to what a pangolin is, sometimes through reading A Pangolin Tale, before finding out what their challenge involved. They were presented with a painted banner of a pangolin and a pango-pup, but the pangolin had no scales. Their task was to colour or design scales that would cover the animal and provide protection. Many of these scales had pictures of pangolins drawn on them by artists from across the world, including countries where the pangolin resides, adding a truly collaborative feel to the artwork. We want each banner to both educate those who view it, but also be personal to the place and the people who produced it.
2017 World Wildlife Day Event at the UN in New York. Photo by One More Generation.
JC Booth Middle School Launches OMG Pangolin Awareness Art Campaign. Photo by One More Generation.