Pangolins

The four African pangolins are: the giant ground pangolin (Smutsia giganteai); Temminck's ground pangolin (Smutsia temminckii); black-bellied pangolin (Phataginus tetradactyla); and white-bellied pangolin (Phataginus tricuspis).

Pangolin captured in a cage

Vulnerable

Description

Pangolins have large, protective scales made of keratin (the same protein as hair, finger nails, rhino horn etc.) are also known as scaly anteaters. All eight species (four African and four Asian) are mostly solitary and nocturnal, and live either in hollow trees or burrows, depending on the species. 

Lifespan

Little data, but up to 20 years.

Population

All four of Africa’s pangolin species are classified vulnerable. Because of their secretive, nocturnal behaviour, reliable data on the size of their populations is not available. All populations are thought to be decreasing.

Habitat & Range

Temmick’s ground pangolin is the most widespread of the African species, in savanna woodland throughout much of Central, East and Southern Africa. The giant ground pangolin, and black-bellied and white-bellied pangolins are found in the forests of Central and West Africa.

Diet

Pangolins use their long tongues to eat mainly termites and ants.

Threats

Pangolins are the most trafficked mammals in the world, with their ground-up scales used in alternative medicine or their meat considered a delicacy in East Asia.

Conservation

Pangolins are found in many national parks and other protected areas across Africa, and by protecting their habitat, pangolins receive protection. A number of Tusk’s project partners are helping pangolins in this way. Efforts are also being scaled up to prevent the illegal trade in pangolin and their body parts, but more information on their populations is required to protect them effectively

How to help

  • Donate

    With your generous support, Tusk can, and will, continue to make a lasting difference for the wildlife and people of Africa. More than 80% of your donation will go directly towards the cause.

    Donate Now
  • Fundraise

    There are lots of fun and fantastic ways to get involved and raise much needed funds for Tusk and our work in Africa. We’re here to support you along the way…

    Find Out More
  • Subscribe

    We would love to keep you up to date with news from our projects, events, fundraising campaigns and more. Please join our mailing list to receive our news by email.

    Sign-Up Now