Insect Conservation & Pangolins

February 12, 2019

Insects are wonderfully, busy little creatures often overlooked as they’re so tiny we might not always pay them much attention, but they play a really important role in our planet. A recent global study has shown that more than 40% of insect species are declining and a third are endangered. Moths, butterflies, dragonflies, wasps, bees, ants and dung beetles are the most affected species, and the rate of extinction of bees, ants and beetles is happening so quickly that they’re disappearing eight times faster than reptiles, birds or mammals.

Insects are crucial for the proper functioning of all ecosystems as they provide food for birds, bats, reptiles and small mammals; they pollinate around 75% of the crops in the world; replenish soils, and keep pest numbers down. If insects continue to decline at such an astonishing rate, we’re likely to see a ‘plague of pests’ of houseflies and cockroaches – something I’m not so keen on!

The decline is caused by intensive agriculture, pesticides, deforestation and urbanisation along with climate change, of course, particularly in tropical areas where it’s having a very big impact. As this is such an important subject and kids love insects anyway, we chatted about their conservation and how we might be able to help them. Dung beetles eat dung – which the children found to be very funny – and they enjoyed sketching bumble bees, butterflies and dragon flies with me whilst learning about bees pollinating flowers and why these insects are of conservation concern. We also discussed ways of encouraging more insects into our gardens.

Pangolins, those sweet, scaly mammals which are not so well heard of, are the most trafficked animals in the world and are avid consumers of insects, and considering it was World Pangolin Day the following Saturday after this workshop, we sketched some of them as well whilst learning about why they’re endangered. I questioned what pangolins might eat if there were no more insects left, and the children said ‘nothing’. ‘Exactly,’ I replied, then the kids shouted out, ‘they would die’. And so, they would, that is if trafficking doesn’t wipe them out first. Thankfully Mad Hatters has a bug hotel so the little ones can keep their eyes on insect shenanigans and see how they behave for themselves.

My daughter and I also created one of the pictures here to mark World Pangolin Day for ourselves yesterday on 16th February. I drew it, and she coloured it all in. The rolled up pangolin sun is a posture they use in self-defence, but in fact it actually makes them easier to pick up and steal. Don’t let the sun go down on pangolins either, it’s gesturing.

Roots & Shoots Awards

Has your school been helping people, animals or the environment? Post a story about it online and win an award!

If you post a story about your school's work here on the website you will be eligible for a Jane Goodall's Roots & Shoots Award and the chance to be invited to this year's awards ceremony to meet Dr. Jane in person. You can write about your experiences completing one of our activities or anything else that your school has been doing to help people, animals or the environment.

Email this to a colleague Email this to a colleague

Comment on this Article

Keep up to date with Jane Goodall's Roots & Shoots

Why not sign up for our weekly newsletter, filled with inspiring stories from the Jane Goodall's Roots & Shoots community in the UK. Not sure what to expect? Take a look at some of our recent emails.

Or follow us on Twitter or Facebook for updates as they happen:

Help us keep our resources free!

All of our resources are currently free and you can help them to stay that way and support the other work of Roots & Shoots in the UK by making a donation, no matter how small. The easiest way to donate to the Jane Goodall's Roots & Shoots programme UK online is by using Virgin Money Giving. This can be a one off donation for any amount you want (every pound helps!) or if you prefer you can set up a regular, monthly donation.

Make a donation using Virgin Money Giving

Our Partners

EarthWatch Institute National Geographic Kids 2041 ClimateForce Quest Overseas Compassion in World Farming St George's Windsor