KARACHI: A citizen, with the help of the Pakistan Animal Welfare Society (PAWS), rescued a pangolin from Zamzama on Sunday after a security guard allegedly shot it five times.

Nuvera Nasir Sheikh, a resident of Zamzama, posted photos of the injured pangolin to Facebook, which she said was shot at and injured by a security guard who thought the scaly anteater was about to attack him.

PAWS took notice of the pictures Ms Sheikh posted on social media and asked vet Ali Ayaz to help the animal. The doctor reached the area and brought the animal to his clinic where it received necessary medical treatment.

Ms Sheikh later said on Facebook that the pangolin had bled a lot but was alive.

PAWS, along with many others on Facebook, urged action against the security guard who shot the helpless animal.

PAWS, founded by documentary filmmakers Maheen Zia and Mahera Omar coordinates help for animals in need through Facebook and Twitter by putting people in touch with each other.

Endangered mammal

The pangolin is considered one of the most intelligent and extraordinary animals on Earth. It is also called an anteater because its diet includes ants.

The pangolin’s body is covered in overlapping scales that act as an armour – if threatened, the pangolin curls up and uses the hardened scales to protect itself. The Indian pangolin was declared an ‘endangered species’ by the International Union for Conservation of Nature in 2012, while many of the pangolin’s other species were declared ‘endangered’ in 2002.

The shy and harmless animal is rapidly disappearing due to relentless poaching, but the Pakistani government seems uninterested in taking serious measures to rescue the rare animal from extinction.

The sharp decrease in the pangolin population in Pakistan is attributed to the hunting and smuggling of these animals to East Asian countries, where there is a demand for the pangolin for its meat and for medicinal uses.