A Pangolin Prayer – For World Pangolin Day 2021

Exactly one year ago, I posted a blog for World Pangolin Day 2020, calling attention to the illegal Pangolin trade and the awful exotic animal market demand. Since then, I’ve spent time reading what I can find about Pangolin physiology and immunology, and progress in the challenging quest to discover the origins–and plot a prehistory of Sars Cov-2.

Recent studies from the reputable, Francis Crick Institute, have raised the probability that the Pangolin is an intermediary species, or viral bridge between Bat Coronaviruses and Sars Cov-2 in Humans.

Further research on the Bat Pangolin Human (cross-species transmission) plus recent papers on Mink mutations, and the flurry of new studies on the Human variants (the so called Kent/UK variant, South African Variant and the Brazilian variant) are all worthy of study. Sure, it’s a heavy load to digest. I can’t pretend to understand all of the findings, however one thing is crystal clear to me since February 2020, unless all nations review their relationships with animals and farming practice and the climate, immediately, novel pandemics will continue. I agree with Sujit:    
“A post-pandemic historiography will surely be interdisciplinary, with critical, philosophical and collaborative engagement with scientists.–Sujit Sivasundaram, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7717365/

I urge you all to read the captivating, brilliant paper by Sujit Sivasundaram, a most detailed and broad, respectful overview of this remarkable creature and it’s reverence in traditional Chinese culture. Yes, go ahead, study the Pangolin in the context of virology and immunology and the possible–zoonotic leap–but also try to take a moment to consider their bigger picture, the pre-history culture, language art and folklore of these creatures. This context is important for discussions with any who claim Sars Cov-2 was made in, or escaped from a laboratory. Nobody has 100% certainty on the origins of the Sars Cov-2, however, like most things in history it’s down to a complex of origins.

Something that struck me, when reading Sujit’s paper, is the respectful chant that the Pangolin poachers said aloud before killing one. This reflects other aboriginal and indigenous native people’s hunting traditions and prayer. In each, some kind of offering in word or deed or symbol is directed to that living thing which is killed to sustain them and their tribe. I consider the chant as a kind of–Lords Prayer–but in this case to the Pangolin gods, keep in mind that the traditional Chinese Pangolin poachers infused their chants with humour and puzzling poetic ambiguity. Here’s updated reverent chant for 2021, although I don’t intend to kill and eat any Pangolin.

Pangolin Prayer
Oh Pangolin, dear Pangolin
I don’t want your meat
Let’s walk under starlight
Through mountains dancing feet
Oh Pangolin, sweet Pangolin
All horny and well armed
Scales for immunity
Balanced, unharmed
Kaballavā, mulkodhu
valdaranayā, æyā
Forgive us lord Pangolin
Please accept this prayer

Perhaps we can extend these chants and poems (don’t call em’ roasts or toasts) to Bats and to Mink? Join me at my patreon project and help mutate these sacred chants into full blown audio/visual variants/odes.

–Steve Fly

“Despite the best efforts of scientists to understand the mechanisms through which this virus originated across species, the role of the historian is also critical in understanding the ‘spill-over’ of diseases, for the transference of zoonotic diseases now occurs more rapidly because of the way humans have altered nature over centuries. The mammalian orders that carry the vast majority of zoonotic diseases are rodents, bats and primates. Among the anthropogenic drivers of this transmission are human domestication of animals, human encroachment into habitats high in wildlife biodiversity, and the hunting of wild animals.18 Additionally, large-scale industrial farming is a problem because it produces genetically similar populations across which disease can spread quickly.” — Sujit, The Human, The Animal and the Prehistory of COVID-19.

The question remains on how the pangolins became infected initially. Could it have been in their natural Southeast Asian environment, before being captured? The discovery of a new virus close to SARS-CoV-2 in bats in Cambodia supports this hypothesis, as Rhinolophus bats and pangolins can meet, at least occasionally, in caves in Southeast Asia. This strengthens the hypothesis that pangolin trafficking is responsible for multiple exports of SARS-CoV-2-like viruses to China.–https://nationalinterest.org/blog/reboot/virus-similar-covid-19-was-present-cambodia-early-2010-177739

“For much of last year it spread quietly, then a cluster of patients infected with the virus carrying a H69/V70 deletion appeared in Denmark. This mutation was appearing in a version of the virus that was being passed from mink on farms to humans. While analysis showed the virus had mutated slightly to become more infectious to the animals, some early data suggested it was also less sensitive to antibodies contained in the blood serum of patients who had recovered from Covid-19.–https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20210127-covid-19-variants-how-mutations-are-changing-the-pandemic

“The South China tiger (Panthera tigris amoyensis)and the Chinese pangolin(Manis pentadactyla),a scaly anteater, occupy ancient and important niches in the biologically diverse ecosystems of Chinese folk cosmology. Both animals are believed to have mysterious magical power and high medicinal value, and both are now under state protection.–https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt6wr4f1

“In Chinese legend pangolins are said to travel all around the world underground, and in the Cantonese language the name for pangolins translates to “the animal that digs through the mountain,” or “Chun-shua-cap,” which translates to “scaly hill-borer.”–http://www.edgeofexistence.org/species/chinese-pangolin/

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