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Species

There are four pangolin species native to Asia and four in Africa - get to know a little bit about each one below!

Chinese Pangolin

Behaviour and Characteristics: This nocturnal pangolin lives in burrows, is an adept climber and even a swimmer! While its tail is shorter than other species, it can be recognised by slightly more prominent ears.

Diet: It feeds on ants and termites.

Predators: Leopards and potentially pythons. 

Range: China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Vietnam, Lao PDR, Thailand Myanmar, India, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal.

Threatened Status and Threats: Unfortunately, it has been classified as Critically Endangered. Although exact population numbers in the wild are unknown, there is evidence for their decline. The major threat they face is unsustainable hunting and poaching for local use and to satisfy international demand for pangolin products. Infrastructure development, habitat loss and pesticide use are secondary threats.

Indian Pangolin

Behaviour and Characteristics: The Indian pangolin also lives in burrows and is nocturnal. It has the largest scales among all Asian pangolin species.

Diet: Ants and termites.

Predators: Tigers, leopards, Asiatic lions, crocodiles, potentially sloth bears, caracals, spotted hyenas, python and domestic dogs. 

Range: Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bangladesh.

Threatened Status and Threats: The Indian pangolin is Endangered. The major threat the species faces is overexploitation by excessive hunting and poaching for local consumption and international use. Secondary threats include agricultural expansion, habitat loss, pesticide use and vehicles. 

Sunda Pangolin

Behaviour and Characteristics: The Sunda pangolin is primarily nocturnal, it is an excellent climber and an able swimmer - it has even been seen crossing rivers!

Diet: Ants and termites.

Predators: Tigers, leopards, clouded leopards, pythons, sun bears and feral dogs. 

Range: Myanmar, Thailandia, Lao PDR, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and Cambodia.

Threatened Status and Threats: Sadly, the Sunda pangolin is considered Critically Endangered. Overexploitation from unsustainable hunting and poaching is its primary threat. Historically, it has been hunted by indigenous people for subsistence purposes but the current levels of poaching to satisfy international demand for its products has played a significant role in the species’ decline. Habitat loss is also a problem as it enables access to previously inaccessible forested areas making the species more susceptible to human impact. 

One of our current research projects addressing the demand for pangolin products in Vietnam can directly impact the conservation of Sunda Pangolins. 

Check our out current and past campaigns that have supported Sunda Pangolins!

Philippine Pangolin

Behaviour and Characteristics: As other Asian species, the Philippine Pangolin is predominantly nocturnal. Although it is an adept climber it is also known to forage on the ground.

Diet: Ants and termites.

Predators: Pythons. 

Range: Endemic to the Palawan region in the Philippines including: Palawan Island, Calamian Island and other smaller islands in the region.

Threatened Status and Threats: Critically Endangered. Similarly to other species the primary threat the Philippine pangolin faces is overexploitation for local use and consumption and international trafficking. Habitat loss is a secondary threat.

 

Black-bellied Pangolin

Behaviour and Characteristics: The Black-bellied Pangolin is the most arboreal of all the African species. It is predominantly diurnal but can be active during the night. It is an excellent climber and a great swimmer - known to swim across rivers and in flooded forest habitats.

Diet: Predominantly tree ants.

Predators: Leopards and spotted hyenas. Its small size can make it vulnerable to raptors, chimpanzees, African rock pythons and ratels. 

Range: Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea, Ivory Cost, Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Republic of Congo, Democratic of the Congo, Central African Republic.

Threatened Status and Threats: It is currently listed as Vulnerable but the population numbers are not known in any site, country or anywhere in its range. The main threats this species faces are habitat loss and degradation due to land conversion for agriculture and forestry extraction as these are likely facilitating poaching. The Black-bellied pangolin is currently hunted extensively for bushmeat, use in traditional African medicine, and for the international pangolin trade.

White-bellied Pangolin

Behaviour and Characteristics: Primary nocturnal and semi-arboreal spending time in both the trees and the ground. This pangolin is also a capable swimmer and its scales are not as thick as other species, making it vulnerable to some predators.

Diet: Ants and termites.

Predators: Leopards, African golden cats, African rock pythons, jackals, ratels, chimpanzees, large owls and potentially eagles. 

Range: Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ivory Cost, Ghana, Togo, Benin, Nigeria, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Republic of Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Angola, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi.

Threatened Status and Threats: The White-bellied pangolin is listed as Endangered. The major threat it faces is intensive exploitation for local use and international trafficking. This species has been consumed as bushmeat in high numbers and used locally for traditional medicine. Habitat destruction and alteration is a secondary threat.

Giant Pangolin

Behaviour and Characteristics: The Giant pangolin is an excellent digger and has powerful claws for digging burrows and termite colonies. It is predominantly nocturnal and is the largest of all species!

Diet: Termites and ants.

Predators: Lions and possibly leopards and large pythons. 

Range: Senegal, Guinea Bissau, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ivory Cost, Ghana, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Republic of Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Central African Republic, Uganda, Tanzania.

Threatened Status and Threats: The Giant pangolin is listed as Endangered as there is evidence it is declining across its range. As other African pangolins, the most prominent threat this species faces is overexploitation for the illegal trade to Asia. Unsustainable hunting and poaching for bushmeat and traditional medicine use is also a problem. Additionally, forest loss, degradation and fragmentation has caused the quality of the Giant pangolin’s habitat to decline.

Temminck's Pangolin

Behaviour and Characteristics: Mostly nocturnal but can also be active during the day. The Temminck’s pangolin digs burrows, can also climb over logs and is a capable swimmer. This species is known for its love of wallowing in the mud. 

Diet: Termites and ants.

Predators: Lions, leopards, spotted hyenas, ratels. There is also anecdotal evidence for predation from Nile crocodiles. 

Range: Chad, Central African Republic, Sudan, South Sudan, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda, Malawi, Zambia, Angola, Namibia, Botswana, South Africa, Mozambique, Zimbabwe. 

Threatened Status and Threats: Vulnerable. Unlike other pangolins, one of the primary threats this species faces is accidental electrocution on electric fences bordering game and livestock farms in South Africa and Namibia. Similarly like the other species, overexploitation for local use and the international trade to Asia is a severe threat to its populations. Habitat loss from land transformation for subsistence and commercial crop agriculture is a secondary threat. 

Check out our campaigns to learn about our work with the African Pangolin Working Group to help rehabilitate and release pangolins in South Africa!

 

Chong, J.L., Panjang, E., Willcox, D., Nash, H.C., Semiadi, G., Sodsai, W. et al. (2020). Sunda pangolin Manis javanica (Desmarest, 1822). In Pangolins: Science, Society and Conservation (eds D.W.S. Challender, H.C. Nash, C. Waterman), pp. 90–108. Academic Press. San Diego, CA, USA and London, UK.
Gudehus, M., Pietersen, D.W., Hoffman, M., Cassidy, R., Cassidy, T., Sodeinde, O., Lapuente, J., Assovi, B.G., Shirley, M.H. (2020). Black-bellied pangolin Phataginus tetradactyl (Linneaus, 1766). In Pangolins: Science, Society and Conservation (eds D.W.S. Challender, H.C. Nash, C. Waterman), pp. 123–138. Academic Press. San Diego, CA, USA and London, UK.
Hoffman, M., Nixon, S., Alempijevic, D., Ayebare, S., Bruce, T., Davenport, T.R.B., Hart, J., Hart, T., Hega, M., Maisels, F., Mills, D., Ndjassi, C. (2020). Giant pangolin Smutsia gigantic (Illiger 1815). In Pangolins: Science, Society and Conservation (eds D.W.S. Challender, H.C. Nash, C. Waterman), pp. 157–173. Academic Press. San Diego, CA, USA and London, UK.
Jansen, R., Sodeinde, O., Soewu, D., Pietersen, D.W., Alempijevic, D., Ingram, D.I. (2020). White-bellied pangolin Phataginus tricuspis (Rafinesque, 1920). In Pangolins: Science, Society and Conservation (eds D.W.S. Challender, H.C. Nash, C. Waterman), pp. 139–156. Academic Press. San Diego, CA, USA and London, UK.
Mahmood, T., Mohapatra, R.K., Perera, P. Irshad, N., Akrim, F., Andleeb, S., Waseem, M., Sharma, S., Panda, S. (2020). Indian pangolin Manis crassicaudata (Geoffroy, 1803). In Pangolins: Science, Society and Conservation (eds D.W.S. Challender, H.C. Nash, C. Waterman), pp. 71–88. Academic Press. San Diego, CA, USA and London, UK.
Pietersen, D.W., Jansen, R., Swart, J., Panaino, W., Kotze, A., Rankin, P., Nebe, B. (2020). Temminck’s pangolin Smutsia temminckii (Smuts, 1832). In Pangolins: Science, Society and Conservation (eds D.W.S. Challender, H.C. Nash, C. Waterman), pp. 175–193. Academic Press. San Diego, CA, USA and London, UK.
Schoppe, S., Katsis, L.K.D., Alvarado, D., Acosta-Lagrada, L. (2020). Philippine pangolin Manis culionensis (de Elera, 1915). In Pangolins: Science, Society and Conservation (eds D.W.S. Challender, H.C. Nash, C. Waterman), pp. 109–122. Academic Press. San Diego, CA, USA and London, UK.
Wu, S., Sun, N.C., Zhang, F., Yu, Y., Ades, G., Suwal, T.L. et al. (2020). Chinese pangolin Manis pentadactyla (Linnaeus, 1758). In Pangolins: Science, Society and Conservation (eds D.W.S. Challender, H.C. Nash, C. Waterman), pp. 50–70. Academic Press. San Diego, CA, USA and London, UK.