Pangolin. Manis temmincki
Also known as the scaly anteater. The name pangolin comes from the Malay word pengguling, meaning to roll up.
Of the 4 species found in Africa, we have the Temmincks Pangolin, soley ground living, where other species are tree climbers.
These nocturnal ant and termite eaters are covered in scales that serve as protection. When they feel threatened they roll themselves in a tight ball to protect the vulnerable underbelly. The scales are made of keratin, the same material as our fingernails!
They have very powerful hind legs and a strong tail and usually, when walking, rarely use the small front legs. The front legs have long sharp digging claws for breaking into the food source nests. They have no teeth and use their sticky tongue to feed. They can spray a noxious acid from anal glands similar in fashion to a skunk.
They are a solitary animal when not breeding or with young, they live in burrows which they have dug themselves, or by others like the aardvark. While inside sleeping they often block the entrance to the burrow with earth.
Total length with tail is up to 1.2 metres and they weigh approximately 3 kg. The female give birth to a single baby usually during the winter months, weighing in at about 380 grams, after a gestation period of nearly 5 months.
Weaning takes place at around 3 months, the baby often climbing on the mothers tail as she moves about. They are sexually mature at 2 years old.
Unfortunately, the eastern market for meat delicacy and scales for supposed medicine has put the pangolin on the endangered species list since 2010.
Electric fences are also another hazard, as when they are shocked the pangolins defence kicks in and often it curls around the wire and receives further shocks resulting in its death. Here at Okonjima this has been taken into account and our electric wires are put at a height where they do not interfere with pangolin movements.