Pangolins are unique and little-known creatures. They are an obscure, solitary, misrepresented and often not recognized. These mammals also happen to be one of the most trafficked endangered animal species.
In an attempt to raise awareness about the pangolin I set out to create some mini
intervention projects aimed at different audiences. The pangolin problem, if I may call it,
has different possible spots for intervention and I had to develop an understanding of the system before proposing educational and/or awareness interventions. These interventions have also been designed keeping in mind my intent of celebrating this curious animal not because it is precious, but because it is extremely interesting and is under-represented, or worse still, misrepresented.A brief explanation of the system of pangolin consumption would be: there are some
communities which have a large demand for pangolin meat and scales, others who
consume it because it is exoticized, also some who use it’s byproducts due to ignorance of pangolin as an ingredient or are unaware of its critically endangered status.
This multi-faceted demand is fulfilled by illegal supply chains which start at poaching
and lead into often unchecked, cross-country trafficking due to lack of awareness. In
particular, I have been researching the supply chain in India, as here, I could start to try
and create an impact. The communities poaching the pangolin are really poor and the
hefty sum paid for each animal is a considerable amount for the families. International
laws have been put in place to prevent poaching, trafficking and consumption of
pangolins, but this circular existence of demand and supply is far from being curbed.
In an attempt to create more awareness about pangolin poaching, trafficking and consumption I have been working on the Museum in a Box; a small portable exhibit like artist book, aimed at increasing curiosity in audiences.
The box was designed to instigate curiosity and to share information supplementary to
the children’s book. In this day and age, any information can be found online, only if one
knows what they are looking for. The Museum in a Box, like any other museum space,
tries to create a balance between introducing new ideas about the pangolin, which one
might not have considered looking for. At the same time it provides specifics such that the box can stand by itself as a source of information.
Eventually, I intend to add and edit objects within the Museum in a Box as per context. But for now it is a distillation of months worth of collected information and a prototype can be visited at the RISD Library.
The Museum in a box also includes a manual for adults facilitating interaction for children.