The Rare Sighting of a Pangolin

Aug 13 2015

Most people are genuinely awe-struck when seeing a pangolin for the very first time! With its armoured like body, the only thing that I have heard escaping one's mouth is, 'What on earth is that'? In fact, they could possibly belong in a sci-fi movie. Marc Lindsay-Rae head of the specialist safari division at Africa Direct, comments, 'Pangolins are solitary, nocturnal and very secretive, so many mysteries remain about their behavior.'

Every year thousands of these mammals are killed! The ground pangolin, found throughout the African continent, and South Africa’s only pangolin species, is under threat by poaching for bush meat, scale and muthi trade, and as a result of electrocution on electric fences. And the sad reality is that most South Africans have never even seen a live pangolin, and probably never will. Between January and April 2013, 273 rhinos had been poached in South Africa. Based on these figures pangolins are being poached at a rate of 3,035% faster than rhinos.

Intrigued by these rare creatures, we ask Marc a couple more questions concerning the mysterious pangolin...

TB: Can you please in detail describe their appearance?
MLR: They are also known as scaly anteaters because of their appearance - long tongues and the food that they eat. They are completely covered with scales made of keratin (also found in human nails), which start off soft and harden as they get older. Their armour-like scales protect them when they are under attack, and they curl up into a ball.

TB: Where are they commonly found?
MLR: Pangolins are mammals that inhabit various ecosystems including tropical forests, dry woodlands and the savannah bushveld. There are eight species still in existence found in India, China, south-east Asia and parts of Africa.

TB: What does a pangolin eat?
MLR: Pangolins are insectivorous. The bulk of their diet consists of various species of ants and termites and may be supplemented by other insects, especially larvae. Hence they have a really long tongue.

TB: What would you consider the most interesting thing about a pangolin?
Besides that they have no teeth and that their tongue can sometimes be longer than their body, I certainly most enjoy the fact that a pangolin baby is carried around on its mother's back for several months. The babies have terrible eyesight and therefore struggle to follow its mother. And take this, another interesting fact is that pangolins can walk on their hind two feet!

TB (Tracy Burrows)


Marc Lindsay-Rea


At thirty, Marc Lindsay-Rea, who is from the little town of Empangeni in the Kwa Zulu Natal area of South Africa, already has extensive experience in the African bush. This allows him to be a professional in both tour operating and field guiding divisions.

In addition to the bush Marc also has a massive passion for wildlife photography. He has been placed first and third in two international competitions: Africa Geographic / Canon Field Guides Competition and Wildside Nikon All Africa Competition respectively. Davland Calendars and Art publishers have also purchased some of his images to include in their 2012/2013 calendars of wildlife in action, which is sold internationally.



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