On the 15th October 2019, held at the Pha Tad Ke Botanical Garden in Luang Prabang, was held the launch of the children’s book Pangolin Life of a Scaly Anteater, which Association Anoulak supported the first publication of along side two other co-publishers: The Pha Tad Ke Botanical Garden and Comité de Coopération avec le Laos (CCL). This beautiful book was written and illustrated by Luang Prabang-based Joséphine Billeter, a former primary teacher and today a freelance graphic designer and illustrator.
When Josephine arrived in Laos, she found out about this little-known animal called Pangolin. A peculiar-looking scaly mammal characterized by fascinating behaviours and lifestyle facts. She was inspired and started working on an illustrated children’s book about the Pangolin.
As we can learn in the book, Pangolins are the only mammals on earth with scales, they feed on ants and termites which they catch with their very long tongue and the mothers carry their baby on the back of their tail! These are among many other facts that readers can discover in the book.
But Joséphine also became aware of the sad plight Pangolins are facing all over the world and felt she had to inform people about it in her book. Pangolins (8 species, including four in Africa and four in Southeast Asia) are the most trafficked mammals on earth due to the huge demand for their scales which are used in the traditional medicine in China. This is despite the fact that the composition of Pangolins’ scales is the same as human nails!
Humans living in urban settings are often disconnected from the natural world surrounding them. This is increasingly the case in Laos, where the new generation is unaware of the biodiversity found in their own country, despite the fact that Laos is one of the most biodiverse country in the world.
With this new book, we aim to inform the public about this fascinating animal but also about the threats it is under, which could lead to its extinction in the wild in the near future.
Association Anoulak is working in Nakai-Nam Theun National Park (Khammouan Province, Laos) where two species of Pangolins occur: the Sunda Pangolin and the Chinese Pangolin; both are classified as Critically Endangered by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Association Anoulak is working in collaboration with local authorities and law enforcement partners to deploy anti-poaching patrols and prevent illegal activities in the National Park. In addition, Association Anoulak conducts camera-trap surveys to monitor wildlife populations over time and space in the National Park.
Association Anoulak has made one of its numerous missions to raise awareness of young and older humans of the beautiful nature of Laos, and the importance of biodiversity conservation. Art and storytelling are great ways to do so, and notably through the publication of bilingual books about animals and nature.
This first Lao-English edition of Pangolin Life of a Scaly Anteater was printed in 3000 copies, of which 1000 were given to Room to Read – Laos to distribute in school libraries in Laos. The rest of the copies were divided between the three co-publishers and the author to use through their respective projects and also raise project funds through the sales of the book.