Saturday, April 18, 2020

P is for Pangolins (Folktales of Endangered Species)

Welcome to the 2020 A to Z blogging challenge! This year my theme is Folktales of Endangered Species. I am researching cool traditional stories about rare, fascinating animals - to raise awareness of what we might lose if we don't get our collective shit together. Enjoy!

Image from here

Species: Tree pangolin (Phataginus tricuspis), Giant pangolin (Smutsia gigantea)

Status: Endangered

Okpwa wins Pangolin's daughter
Bulu folktale

Pangolin announces that he will give his beautiful daughter as a wife to whoever can best tell the time of dusk and dawn. Pangolin, you see, is nocturnal, and he wants to know when he can set out to eat and when he should head back home before dawn. Several animals try to tell the time correctly, but none of them succeed. Nkulengui, the rail bird, for example chatters for a while at dusk but then falls asleep, and makes Pangolin mistake the time. Nothing quite works out.
Eventually, Okpwa (scaly spurfowl, Pternistis squamatus) decides to try too. He flies up into a tree at dusk, and chatters for a short while, waking up Pangolin who heads into the forest to eat some ants. Pangolin feasts on little black ants until dawn is about to break, at which point Okpwa begins chattering again. Just as Pangolin reaches his home the first light of dawn appears - the timing was impeccable. Okpwa wins the contest and marries Pangolin's daughter; ever since then he has been marking the time of dusk and dawn for the entire forest (and especially pangolins) to hear. 

Sources: Read the story here.

How can I help?

Read about conservation efforts here, here, here, here, or here.

The spurfowl usually signals dawn between 4 and 5 o'clock in the morning. Is that a good time to wake up? Or to go to bed? Are you nocturnal like a pangolin?


  1. They look like armored anteaters. Right now I'm noctural because I'm retired and get extra databytes to watch netflix after 2 a.m. I'm usually going to be around 4. When I had a job I was a day person but not happy about getting up at 6:30.

  2. They do look a bit like anteaters in armour, don’t they?

    It must have been an interesting marriage between a bird and a pangolin. And did she expect him to keep HER clock going? 😁

  3. Great tale! Before Covid-19 I had never heart about this cute yet strange animal. Like a dinosaur, no?
    P is for Pojagi

  4. Lovely story! I'm glad we don't have spurfowls here as I don't go to bed until 3!

  5. Sweet tale.
    Along with all the tales and animal names, I'm also learning about indigenous people from all over the world. Thank you for compiling such diverse and fascinating stories.

  6. Cute story. I love love love pangolins! But I am definitely not nocturnal.
    Black and White (Words and Pictures)

  7. That was my thought too that it looks like an armoured anteater.
    I am definitely nocturnal. After I get up it still takes a couple of hours for my brain and body to wake up. At about 9 pm I get energized and just MIGHT do some housework. I do my best writing at night, sometimes into the morning.

  8. No, that is not a good time to get up or go to bed! The only time I get up that early is if I have a plane to catch! I used to have to get up at 4:30am to be at work at 6:00. It was not worth the job! If I am up until 11 or midnight I am up late!

  9. Pangolins are unfamiliar to me. This is such an interesting series of posts highlighting such a global cross section of endangered species. I'm much less of a night owl than I used to be.

  10. I actually saw one of these in the wild once (in Nepal)! I had no idea what it was until the next day when we went to the Park's office and they had a display on them. The poaching is tragic.

  11. What a great story ! Such a curious animal-I'd never heard of it it related to the anteater? Looking forward to your next post!

  12. Such a strange and fascinating creature. Lovely story. I am not nocturnal in the slightest - I go to bed somewhere between 9 and 10 usually and get up about 6. I like early mornings, but not late nights.
    Tasha 💖
    Virginia's Parlour - The Manor (Adult concepts - nothing explicit in posts)
    Tasha's Thinkings - Vampire Drabbles

  13. Fascinating story. Such a cute creature!

    An A-Z of Faerie: Moon

  14. Lovely story :-)

    The Old Shelter - Living the Twenties

  15. Thank you Zalka for this Bulu story. Never got to see a pangolin in Cameroon when I was there, even when we had to camp out on the dirt track when our car broke down (January 1989), see my novel extracts on A to Z.
    Take care, wishing you an inspiring month of writing. Road trip blog-hop.