Background on Pangolins

(This blog is written in chapters with the latest posts last at the end
Click here to jump to the start of the fieldwork
Click here jump to the start of 2011, Click here for the latest posts Nov 2011-2013,
or select a post from the archive index in the right hand column)

Bruno Nebe talks about pangolins and our project in this YouTube video interview He addressed the theme 'Is Conservation for Sale?' in a TEDx talk on Mar 27th 2015 which can be watched via this YouTube link.

Pangolins, sometimes called scaly anteaters, are very unusual animals. These toothless mammals are covered with hard overlapping scales, walk on their hind legs counterbalanced by a large tail and feed exclusively on ants and termites. The prey are dug out with their sharp claws and caught on a very long sticky tongue. (Watch this National Geographic video) The young are carried on the mother's back. Usually nocturnal, they sleep most of the day in burrows made in the ground, or take up residence in the dens of other animals such as the aardvark. When threatened, pangolins curl into a armoured ball, protected by their sharp scales. (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pangolin )
(Click on any photo to see an enlarged version) 
Eight different pangolin species can be found across Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. Poaching for the illegal wildlife trade or for Chinese medicine products and their habitat loss have sadly made these creatures one of the most endangered groups of mammals in the world. In June 2010, nearly 8 tonnes of more than 2000 frozen pangolin and 2 tonnes of their scales were seized by Chinese customs officials from a boat destined for mainland China, see article in The Guardian)
(For more background on this terrible trade, see http://www.savepangolins.org/conservation and support the Save Pangolins organization on Facebook)

Being nocturnal and highly secretive, these elusive solitary mammals are thus difficult for scientists to study in the wild. Attempts to keep them in captivity invariably fail, because of their prodigious appetite for enormous numbers of live ants and termites - and their abilities as escape artists! Estimates of 70 million insects consumed per year have been made (see Bush Warriors, 19th Nov. 2010) Many mysteries therefore remain about their behaviour and habits: our ignorance hampers conservation efforts. For example, there are no detailed studies on the population levels, ecology, or life history of the Sunda pangolin, Manis javanica. Meanwhile, little is known about the current distribution and range of the various other pangolin species.
Sunda Pangolin, photo taken by Piekfrosch, May 2006 from:
Our own focus in Namibia is on the Cape Pangolin, or Temminck's ground pangolin (Taxon Manis temminckii, Smuts 1832, of the Manidae family, Pholidota order): see this excellent video plus species summary or watch this BBC video. The Cape pangolin is less threatened than the four Asian pangolin species but remains rare with decreasing numbers, because of its value in the Chinese and Traditional Medicine illegal markets, chemical insecticides and electric fences. (Its entry in the CITES RedList 2000 by the Pangolin Specialist Group allocated it the rating Lower Risk - near threatened (LR/nt - ))

Manis temminckii is one of the least studied types of pangolin, despite its widespread occurrence throughout southern and eastern Africa. For example, there are no detailed studies on the population levels in dry savannah ecologies or of the life histories of the Temminck's ground pangolin - i.e. its traits remain undocumented and basic ecology remains to be researched. One of the few people working on this species is Jonathan Swart, based in the Sabi Sand Wildtuin next to the Kruger Park, South Africa, see the Kruger Times article.

Pangolins are ancient creatures. Their ancestors are thought to have been members of the suborder Palaeanodonta, which diverged from the ancestral edentates some 60 million years ago, see the linked article. These small, armorless animals rapidly became extinct but their successors evolved into the order Pholidota. Today, this order contains one family, the Manidae, with eight living species. Four species are found in Africa and three in Southeast Asia. The widely accepted classification of the seven living pangolin species recognizes one genus (Manis) and five subgenera (Manis, Paramanis, Phataginus, Smutsia and Uromanis). The earliest fossils of the Cape Pangolin species itself date back 40 million years, see pages 112 & 113 in: The Complete book of Southern African Mammals, compiled by M. G. L. Mills & Lex Hes, Struik Publishers, Cape Town, 1997.


  1. This article is very interesting .its must be helpful
    and informative for us. Thanks for sharing your nice post.
    web design UK

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. A One Nepal Trek Pvt. Ltd. (your Trekking and Tour consultant since many years ago) is an ecologically perceptive Trekking Agency in Nepal specializing in giving you nepal, tibet , bhutan, the manner you want to peer it , also owned & managed by means of nearby experts Nepal Adventure Activities organization advocated through lonely planet Nepal journey guide e-book, lonely planet hiking in Nepal Himalaya ebook & trip marketing consultant. A One Nepal Trek Pvt. Ltd. & day trip is an Trekking Agency in Nepal, established with the aid of a crew of specialists worried tourism considering a long time for committed provide the provider a home away from domestic. a group of hospitable and expert geared up to welcome and escort you through recreational activities inclusive of trekking in Nepal, Nepal tour package, nepal journey bundle excursions, nepal trekking tour, Nepal Adventure in Himalaya, nepal top hiking, nepal air ticketing, nepal river rafting, nepal jungle safari, nepal sightseeing tour, excursion in nepal, kathmandu valley sightseeing, Nepal resort reservation, tibet tour, tibet trekking, bhutan tour, bhutan trekking.
    Local Trekking Company in Nepal established by Yam Bahadur Pant has over 20 years and reasonable cost and Custom Itinerary to All Valuable clients in Nepal. A One Nepal offer many type of Activities as Annapurna base camp, Everest Base Camp, Ghorepani Poon Hill, Upper Mustang, manaslu Circuit, Langtang Valley, Island Peak, Mera Peak and Many Others Activities in Nepal.

  4. The Shiva excursion Pvt Ltd is local base Trekking Agency in Nepal as Under Nepal government license holder tourism board. Over 15 years Experience Nepal Trekking, Tour and Peak Climbing leading by tour leader Arjun Nepal. Over 70% Past client repeat and fully satisfied with our services in Nepal. The list of Best trekking company in Nepal as refer by many client those who take’s ours services and high quality hospitalities in Nepal.
    Most of Trekking Companies are same as services but selected which is best and more Nepal Trekking Company Reviews and make happy valuable customer trekking in Nepal. Therefore search right Nepal Trekking Agency. Because many Trekking Agencies are not best quality and just make money never looking furthers services with any kind of activities in Nepal. The Shiva Excursion is high recommend Everest Base Camp, Annapurna Base Camp, Upper Mustang, Manaslu Circuit and Many Others Trekking routes in Nepal.
    So coming this year 2017 heading to some others Trekking Peak as Island Peak Climbing, Mera Peak Climbing, Lobuche Peak Climbing, Chulu West and Chulu East Peak Climbing in Nepal, Many type of Activities normal hiking, moderate trekking, high pass and hard adventures Peak Climbing in Nepal. Nepal is beautiful little high mountain and latest trekking trail and Others Package Tour, Kathmandu Valley, Nagarkot dhulikhel tour, Kathmandu to Chitwan, lumbini pokhara tour and Bandipur Tour in Nepal.
    Highly promoted and local top Trekking agency as Shiva Excursion is most popular trekking Company in Nepal. Mainly offers packages trip and adventures activities choice of the valuable client design by custom Itinerary and reasonable cost deal to Shiva Excursion with Excellent Client Reviews Nepal Trekking Companies.

  5. Such a nice blog.Anybody want to know How to trace the mobile with location and get more details for tracking.Read this blog...

    Mobile Number Tracker | Phone Number Tracker With Location | Mobile Location Tracker | How To Track A Phone Number | Phone Number Tracker | Phone Number Search

  6. Marie We aim to be the premiere Seattle moving company! With our great customer service and the excellent seattle movers, you can trust us to meet all of your Seattle moving needs!

  7. Lightweight Electric WheelchairThe World’s Best Motorized Electric Wheelchair...

  8. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed reading your blog posts.

    Frigate Logistics & Movers Pte Ltd

    Relocation Services Singapore

    Warehouse in Singapore

    Cheapest Movers in Singapore