4 pangolin species in Asia
4 pangolin species in Africa
8 Pangolin Species
Giant Ground Pangolin
There are eight incredible species of pangolins distributed throughout Africa and Asia, all have adaptations which equip them to survive in a range of habitats including grasslands, thick bush and a variety of forest types. However all are threatened by extinction and if we do not act swiftly they could become extinct within the decade.
Cape Pangolin Smutsia temminckii – Vulnerable
Also known as the Ground or Temminck’s ground Pangolin
These pangolins can only be found in the countries of Southern Africa such as Namibia, Botswana, Mozambique and South Africa. These are a ground dwelling species that are adapted to digging underground burrows with their forearms, they have been known to use burrows which were made by other species such as Aardvarks. Because they are not known to climb trees they are notably bigger and heavier than tree living pangolin species.
Giant GroundPangolin Smutsia gigantea – Vulnerable
Distributed across Central Africa --including Senegal, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Cameroon and even Rwanda and Uganda-- this is the world’s largest pangolin species and can weigh up to an impressive 35kgs. Similar to the ‘Cape Pangolin’ they are ground living fossorial species, meaning they are well adapted to dig burrows. This species can create large burrows big enough for a fully grown human to stand in. These pangolins are known to prefer habitats which are close to water.
Tree Pangolin Phataginus tricuspis – Vulnerable
Also known as the African White-bellied Pangolin
This is the smallest of all the pangolin species and are similar to the ‘Long-tailed Pangolin’, with differences including a slightly smaller tail and larger eyes. These pangolins are distributed from Guinea to Sierra Leone and their habitat expands from West through Central Africa and though listed as vulnerable to extinction, they are the species is most frequently encountered in the wild.
Long-tailed Pangolin Uromanis tetradactyla – Vulnerable
Also known as the Black-bellied Pangolin
This is a small pangolin species which is about 80cms long, they are distributed across Central Africa including countries such as Liberia, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea, Cameroon, the Demographic Republic of Congo and Equatorial Guinea. This is an arboreal creature which is well adapted to live in the tree canopy. It has a fantastic prehensile tail which can be twice as long as there bodies, unlike pangolin species which live on the ground they have pads on the tail, enabling them to use it to cling onto branches.
Chinese PangolinManis pentadactyla – Critically Endangered
The Chinese pangolin is able to inhabit high altitude areas, and is native to a range of countries including Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Nepal, Taiwan (Province of China), Thailand, Viet Nam and China; however its range is rapidly decreasing as the species is being poached towards extinction. Though like all pangolin species, there is very little population data available, making population estimates difficult. Like other ground dwelling pangolins, the Chinese pangolin is a fossorial species, and is therefore well adapted to dig for termites and dig burrows to sleep in so have long claws on their forelimbs.
Sunda Pangolin Manis javanica– Critically Endangered
Also known as the Malayan Pangolin
This arboreal or tree living pangolin has the most extensive range of all the Asian pangolin species, with some of its range overlapping that of the Chinese pangolin. There are records of this species in Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand and Viet Nam. However this species is critically endangered and could very soon become extinct. Like all pangolin species Sunda pangolins are not easily kept in captivity, thus making this a difficult conservation strategy. These creatures have a long, prehensile tail and curved claws -- adaptations that make them expert tree climbers.
Philippine PangolinManis culionensis– Endangered
This pangolin species is endemic to the Philippines found in the Palawan faunal region, and only in recent years was described as a separate species from the Sunda Pangolin. This species has a slightly smaller head and smaller sized scales and they are known to have the most scales of any Asian Pangolin. Little is known about their ecology, however research suggests that they have an affinity to fig trees, as these trees attract ants which is their primary food source.
Indian PangolinManis crassicaudata– Endangered
Also know as the Thick-tailed Pangolin
These pangolins can be found in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Nepal and India. Like the Chinese Pangolin, Indian pangolins are well adapted to dig burrows with large front claws, they are known to inhabit grasslands and various types of tropical forests. These pangolins have the largest scales of any of the Asian Pangolins. Hunting pressure for this species is increasing as other Asian species become harder to find in the wild to supply for the commercial demand.