Every year on the third Saturday of February we get to celebrate World Pangolin Day. Pangolins are such secretive and mysterious creatures and whenever we find one at Londolozi the excitement in the air is palpable. Rangers will drop everything that they’re doing in order to show their guests these peculiar little animals.
The announcement of a pangolin sighting usually evokes one of two emotions; uncontrollable elation for those guests and rangers who know what they’re about to see, and confusion for those who have no idea what a pangolin is. Thus, the purpose of today’s blog is to introduce the pangolin in such a way that everyone can share the excitement of seeing these amazing animals, whilst raising awareness around a Critically Endangered Species.
To describe pangolins as unique is an understatement of note. They are like nothing else on earth. Pangolins are small ant-eating mammals that are covered from head to tail in hard scales. In fact, there are no scaled mammals other than pangolins. Their hard scales protect them from predators, and should a pangolin be attacked by a predator, it will roll itself into a ball forming an impenetrable barrier. The pangolin’s sharp, partially serrated scales are so effective that even lions, leopards and hyenas struggle to break through them.
I have seen a number of occasions when a frustrated big cat gives up trying to break through a pangolin’s tough outer shell.
Pangolins are very difficult to find in the wild due to their retiring natures. Although they are seen in the daytime, they tend to prefer scurrying around at night in search of their favourite food – termites and ants. Pangolins put their long and sharp front claws and powerful front legs to good use as they dig open termite mounds and ant nests. Once inside a mound, pangolins use their long, sticky tongue to lap up their quarry.
Amazingly, a pangolin can eat up to 20 000 ants in one day! Should their prey fight back, the pangolin can seal its ears and nostrils to keep the biting soldier ants and termites at bay. When they aren’t out foraging, pangolins rest in the thick bush making them tricky to spot.
Although World Pangolin Day celebrates these rare and intriguing animals, it also raises awareness of the plight they face. Of the eight different pangolin species found throughout the world, all of them are either vulnerable, endangered, or critically endangered. In fact, the pangolin is the most trafficked wild animal on the planet.
The primary reason for this high demand is that some people believe that pangolin’s scales have medicinal properties. The scales are used in fashion, or the meat is eaten as a delicacy. There is also demand in the United States for pangolin products, particularly for their leather to be used in boots, bags, and belts. By raising awareness about the hardship these innocent animals face, we hope to bring an end to the senseless killing of one of nature’s most wonderful creations.
I will never forget the first time I saw a pangolin, not for any other reason apart from simply seeing such a rare and bizarre animal. It left a lasting impression on me. Even though pangolins perfectly occupy their own little ecological niche, they desperately need our help. In order to protect these amazing animals, we must do everything we can to raise awareness and to create and expand natural safe havens for them.
Londolozi is one of these havens. We will do everything we can to protect these special scaly mammals and it is my hope that they will be around for many years to come so that others may get to experience the same feeling that I did when I first saw a wild pangolin.
Filed under Wildlife
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Wow Nick so interesting, thanks for sharing all the info! Loved the pics as well
It’s amazing and so sad at the same time that such powerful animal defences, that defeat large predators, can do nothing against human madness. Pangolins should be a symbol for all trafficked animal species and there should be another one for plants, then fungi. I can just hope people will change their mind through education. I have loved pangolins since my childhood.
Great story about the pangolins. I was not aware of their endangered status. Thanks for the pictures of this unique creature.
Thank you Nick for the insight. Lovely little animals. I honestly hope not to meet someone wearing something from a pangolin…..
Thank you for posting this. Londolozi does so much good in so many ways such as educating people on the vulnerability of sentient beings. Pangolins are such special and truly sweet creatures. It’s sad the\at human vermin feed off of the innocent. I hope one day to see a Pangolin in the wild. Top of my bucket list 🙂
Francesca’s comment is perhaps the most poignant. Of course we can hope that some people will change their mind through education, or penalties – but that has not been proven to be very effective. Increased funding to organizations that are truly making a difference against poachers, and educating consumers about the abhorrence of buying and using products from endangered species is their only hope.
Yes, they are amazing creatures! ALIVE.
So disheartening what the forces of greed, poverty and ignorance in humans are doing to them.
Thanks Nick for this fascinating blog on pangolins. I really DO hope that one day I will be able to see one of these wonderful animals. So far, I haven’t, not on one of the many safaris I have been on and not one at Londolozi.
But there is still hope. Next time, maybe…
I do also hope that lots of people will raise the awareness of the danger these amials are in.
Why do Chinese people believe that the scales are useful in medicine, which is nonsense. Why do rich Americans believe they must have belts made of their scales? Even greater nonsense.
I hope that lots of people read your blog and help protect the animals.
Hi Nick, pangolins are such beautiful animals and it is so sad that they are hunted for their scales. They are harmless and should be protected at all cost. Thanks for your story on the pangolins.
Long live the pangolin!
8 trips to Africa and we’re still hoping to see one! Perhaps in April at Londolozi!
Nick, The images and videos of the Pangolins are wonderful! We were excited beyond meaure to find one on our last visit to Londolozi. We kept thinking that it was all a hoax and that after many visits to Londolozi, it would never happen. On our last night and last drive our tracker found one! You never saw people scramble like that for the best angle to get a photo! We have spent time studying their plight and we hope that the world will find a way to just let them be!!
Thanks for this interesting blog Nick. I fervently wish that the young people can be educated and know that the benefits of animal body parts are NOT effective and that the wildlife in the world are more precious alive.
Nick, thank you so much for highlighting this amazing and endangered animal. I find it repugnant that poachers would kill this distinctive animal in order to sell it for the scales.
It’s stories like this that can bring awareness to the multitudes that this senseless killing needs to stop, not just for Pangolins, but all endangered animals. Thank you!
A lovely tribute to this very special creature Nick 🙏🏻💕. It seems so sad that such a shy, gentle creature such as the Pangolin should be the most trafficked creature on our planet and I too hope that the world will listen to the call to save them and that our children’s children, are also able to enjoy them in the future.
So grateful Nick for you highlighting World Pangolin Day! These animals ate endlessly fascinating, with a charm all of their own. And as Francesa said, there’s the ironic tragic dichotomy of an animal that can protect itself from apex predators, but against human insanity.