The 10th annual World Pangolin Day will be celebrated on 20 February 2021. Most people will not have heard of a Pangolin, yet, sadly, it is one of the most trafficked animals in the world.
I have been lucky enough to see 2 African Pangolins in 25 years. Lucky because many guides have not seen them. These solitary, mainly nocturnal animals, are easily recognised by their full armour of scales.
The word Pangolin comes from ‘penggulung,’ a Malay word for roller. Pangolins are the only mammals wholly covered in scale. These scales are used to protect themselves from predators in the wild. When startled, a pangolin will cover its head with its front legs, exposing its scales to any potential predator. If touched or grabbed pangolins will roll up into a ball, while the sharp scales on the tail can be used to lash out.
Pangolins eat ants, termites and larvae and are often known as “the scaly anteater.” Because they have no teeth, pangolins pick up food with their sticky tongues.
THERE ARE EIGHT SPECIES OF PANGOLIN
Four species of pangolin can be found in Africa, and four in Asia.
The four species that live in Africa are:
- Black-bellied pangolin (Phataginus tetradactyla)
- White-bellied pangolin (Phataginus tricuspis)
- Giant Ground pangolin (Smutsia gigantea)
- Temminck’s Ground pangolin (Smutsia temminckii)
The four species that live in Asia are:
- Indian pangolin (Manis crassicaudata)
- Philippine pangolin (Manis culionensis)
- Sunda pangolin (Manis javanica)
- Chinese pangolin (Manis pentadactyla)