What is a Pangolin you may ask?
A Pangolin is an incredibly rare and special animal like no other, it is however the most poached and trafficked animal in the world – we lose one every 5 minutes.
Why is it called a Pangolin?
The name Pangolin means ‘The one who rolls up’. They do this as a defence mechanism and become a ball which protects their head and underparts.
Why are they poached and what other threats do they have?
- They are poached for their scales which are made of keratin (same as our nails).
- Their scales make up 20% of their body weight.
- They are used in traditional medicine.
- Their scales are also used as decorative items.
- They are also hunted for meat in some parts of the world.
- Due to deforestation their habitat is also under threat.
How many types of Pangolin do we get?
There are 8 species, all of which are a threatened species with some being critically endangered.
What do Pangolins eat?
They eat ants and a small number of termites! Up to 20,000 ants a day, they use a long sticky tongue which, once extended, is longer than their whole body. Interestingly, they can close their ears and nostrils to protect themselves from ant attacks.
What ire their behaviour and mating tendencies?
They are mainly nocturnal and solitary, meeting with another just to mate. They mate normally once a year and normally have just one baby but sometimes twins. The babies are weaned after 3-4 months. After leaving the burrow they will ride on their mums back and after 2 years they are fully mature and will part ways. Pangolins are also extremely territorial.
How long do they live?
They can live up to 20 years in the wild, this is of course only if they are left undisturbed.
Who is trying to help Pangolins in South Africa?
There is a company called the African Pangolin Working Group who all have a passion for conservation and protecting these special animals, if you are interested in learning more or even making a donation then please visit their website: www.africanpangolin.org
Spread the world about Pangolins to your friends and family at home and do your own research on these incredible creatures and if you do happen to see one in the wild consider yourself very lucky!
Words by Hayley Cooper and banner photo taken by Grant Murphy in the Timbavati Private Nature Reserve
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