Pangolins are exotic, scaly animals that are indigenous to the terrains of Africa. They appear to be some reptilian remnant of the Jurassic age, but they're actually mammals. Pangolins are among the most unusual looking mammals you're ever likely to encounter, and also one of the most endangered. Poaching has diminished their population considerably. The breathtakingly photographed documentary Eye of the Pangolin sets out to find and observe four species of the mammal in their natural habitats, and shine a spotlight on the battle being waged to protect the species from extinction.
Pangolins are notoriously difficult to track, and the filmmakers exude admirable patience while they await their first glimpse of the animal. The highlight of the film is this rare footage of the pangolins as they feed and travel across the African landscapes in southern and eastern Africa.
In spite of their elusiveness, a record number of pangolins are being sold into the illegal wildlife trade. In fact, they are the most trafficked mammal in the world. One pangolin is taken from the wild every five minutes. Apparently, their scales are a highly desired commodity. Without meaningful intervention, the entire species might be eliminated from the planet in as little as ten years.
So little is known about the pangolin, and even the most seasoned ecologists might be unaware of their existence. Believing that the first step to conservation begins with knowledge of the animal, the filmmakers first set out to learn as much as they can about their habits and preferred habitats. For further insights, they speak to representatives from organizations that are devoted to the education, rehabilitation, and enforcement of pangolin protection measures.
We learn how the natural ecosystem might be irrevocably altered if the pangolins are allowed to become extinct. The mammal feeds almost exclusively on ants and termites, and thereby controls their populations. An overabundance of these insects could result in destroyed vegetation and a complete ecological imbalance in the region.
Eye of the Pangolin is a stunning nature documentary with a great eye for the exotic, and a strong, impassioned heart for animal advocacy.
Directed by: Bruce Young