This week our guests were lucky enough to experience the very rare sighting of a Pangolin. The term Pangolin comes from the Malay language for the roller. It is the most trafficked animal in the world, being taken out of its natural habitat and shipped to South East Asia alive where it is used for the meat market, as a sign of status for those who can afford to eat such an incredibly endangered animal. It can cost up to 300 US dollars per kilogram of meat, and its scales are valued at 3000 US dollars per kilogram and used for traditional medicine. Although this is really a species to be on the look-out for on game drives, it is one of the rarest animals to see on safari due to the intense trafficking of this animal.
There are only 8 species of pangolin in the world: 4 in Africa and 4 in Asia. The ground pangolin is the more common species found in the Kruger area. Pangolin are more commonly seen during their breeding season round May-July as they are more active at this time, looking for mates. They have a gestation period of about 4 months and give birth to one young at a time, which rides on the back of the mother’s tail. When threatened, the mother holds the baby on her chest and rolls into a ball and defends her young with her razor sharp scales. Pangolins walk on their hind legs, mostly using their front legs for digging to find food. The staple diet for the pangolin is termites and ants – using their long sticky tongue to grab the ants/termites in their mounds. Make sure to keep your eyes out for this unique and friendly animal on your next visit to KwaMbili!