Photo credit: Diana J. Limjoco 

Photo credit: Diana J. Limjoco 

By: Diana J. Limjoco from the Philippines

The Forest Gardener

Balin was a young orphan pangolin brought to me by a local villager in Palawan. They said a forester cutting logs killed the mother and so Balin needed help to survive. This was my first wildlife rescue and I will always be so very grateful to have known such a gentle and marvelous  creature.

In our forest in Palawan, I watched one of these gentle creatures digging into very hard earth, so hard I had trouble breaking clumps apart with my knife. This little gardener dug with no problem and I watched a seed fall where he dug and as he dug for ants, so did this seed get buried; only to await the next rain so it would grow. Later he dug into a huge fallen tree... he tore through the bark and it crumbled to the ground into hundreds of tiny pieces and I saw a young seedling be covered with this mulch to protect the moisture in the soil so it would have a chance at becoming a tree. One cloudy night the full moon peeked out from behind a cloud, Balin sat on his haunches and had his paws together as he looked up at it, it looked like he was praying.
Months later I went back to where he had dug into the tree trunk and I noticed that the plants he mulched while foraging for termites, had flourished and grown, while those he did not mulch, shrivelled and died.
These creatures are the gardeners of the forest as well as the controllers of the insects that would otherwise eat at all the plants that abound there. Balin, the little orphaned pangolin in Palawan taught me so much of its role in our forest as I walked with it while it foraged early evening till late at night for 2 months; when sated he would crawl up my leg to be brought back to its safe lair. It must be so with all pangolins, the gentle forest garden wizards, silently doing the job allotted them with none the wiser.
They go about their job skillfully in the dark of night, so none might see the magic they do. For this they are rewarded with extermination, because they will not defend themselves by aggression, they passively curl up into a ball and let their armour protect them. Alas, it does not protect them from us humans.

Who knows how many things will cease to grow without them, what trees will disappear in the countries where they exist?

Diana currently lives in Palawan, Philippines and is dedicated to caring for animals in need out of her own interest and kindness. Whenever she finds an orphaned wild animal she does the necessary research to learn how to best take care of them since there are no equipped facilities to do so in Palawan. She believes it is her duty to do due diligence for the proper care of each creature and their individual needs and is an example to us all.