Staff Pick: Pangolin


Katie Schuler, Nick Rogacki | 13 min.

By Johan Ehde, On Tour Manager

Awarded “Best Short” at this year’s flagship Wild & Scenic film festival in Nevada City, Pangolin immediately became one of my favorite films in this year’s line-up. If you were a fly on the wall here at the Wild & Scenic office, you would know I’ve been raving about Pangolin ever since. For me, this is THAT film; a high-quality visual gem that fully embodies this year’s theme, At The Edge. Here’s why: To start, I had no idea these fascinating creatures existed prior to viewing this work. If you’re an animal lover and nature enthusiast like myself, you understand that it’s not every day a completely new species is brought to the forefront of your awareness. That aspect in and of itself I consider a real treat. Come to find out, pangolins are the only known mammals with keratin scales but also, tragically, are the world’s most illegally trafficked mammal on Earth. Furthermore, some pangolin species have already been poached to extinction. What will be the fate of the remaining pangolin population here on Earth? Although their future on this planet is in peril, the demand for those signature scales has never been higher. In fact, these scales are used medicinally in some Asian cultures and their bodies considered a luxury meat in the Chinese food market.

Set in Southeast Asia, this visual narrative expertly recreates a very real and prevalent interaction between pangolin and poacher. As you’re watching, keep in mind that no pangolins were harmed in the making of this film. This work tracks the movement of our featured pangolin from its natural environment, hunting for insects in the jungle, to a formal setting in a Chinese restaurant in an altogether unnatural state as the main ingredient in Pangolin Stew. This film finishes with an astonishing statistical message that I have been reeling over since reading: “Over the past 10 years poachers have killed over 1,000 tigers, 11,000 rhinos, and around 1 million pangolins.”  I hope you get a chance to watch this film and that its story, one that is all too common,  resonates with you as it did with me. “Pass it on before they’re gone.”

Are you a member of the South Yuba River Citizens League? This film is available for check-out at the SYRCL film library. Want a behind the scenes look at the making of Pangolin? Watch the Wild & Scenic interview with film writer and director of photography, Katie Schuler, below.

Watch the trailer:

Hear from Katie Schuler in an interview from the 2017 Wild & Scenic Film Festival: