The Pangolin is an awesome and completely unique mammal with large keratin scales covering its skin like a built-in suit of armour. Eight different species exist in different parts of Africa and Asia. When threatened, Pangolins curl up into a ball and tuck their faces under their tails. In fact, “the name, pangolin, comes from the Malay word, pengguling, meaning ‘something that rolls up’.”

Pangolins are shy, nocturnal creatures, and we still have a lot to learn about them. But while some people are trying to study Pangolins, poachers are hunting them to the very edge of extinction. That’s why dedicated specialists are gathering information about them in hopes of boosting global conservation efforts:

One such organisation is Pangolin Research Mundulea, whose UK co-investigator Paul Rankin, based in Surrey, works alongside Bruno Nebe at the Mundulea Nature Reserve in Namibia, tracking rescued pangolins in order to better understand them. [In the top photo you can see a pangolin with a tracking device on its tail.]

ONCA [One Network for Conservation and the Arts] has teamed Paul and colleague Debbie Shaw, an expert on Chinese traditional medicine, with a squadron of brilliant illustrators from Art Schism led by Sinna One, aka Daryl Bennett, to create the wild, colourful Pangolin Trail of paintings on telephone exchange boxes around Brighton, England.

The photos you see here are each part of an awesome interactive street art scavenger hunt devoted to educating the public about Pangolins and their plight. “Each painting features a detail from the world of pangolins, and if you scan the QR code on the painting it will take you to a webpage with more detailed information about the pictured aspect of this incredible class of beasts: their lives, their homes, their neighbours [hello Mister Honey Badger!] and the threats they face.”

Click here to view a map of the Trail.

Visit The Pangolin Trail website to learn more about this project.

[via ONCA and wombatarama]