Kruger National Park

Wold’s Most Trafficked Mammal – The Pangolin

The Basics

World Pangolin Day is on every third Saturday of February.

There are only 8 pangolin species, 4 are in Africa and the rest are in Asia.

Pangolins consume an average of 70 million ants per year!

They are the only mammals that are covered in scales.

Their scales are 20 percent of their total body weight.

The word ‘pangolin’ comes from the Malay word ‘penggulung’, which means ‘one that rolls up’.

Baby Pangolins ride on their mother’s back and tail.


Strange Anatomy

The Pangolin’s tongue is longer than its body and attached near its pelvis and last pair of ribs.

To eat ants, they slurp them up with their sticky tongue.

Pangolins have no teeth! They digest their ants by swallowing rocks and keratinous spines in their stomach.

Pangolins have poor vision and hearing, but their sense of smell is quite strong.

Pangolins are capable of closing their ears and nostrils using their strong muscles, this prevents the ants from crawling in.



Pangolins are the world’s most trafficked mammal, yet very few people know of its existence.

They aren’t aggressive and when threatened will curl up in a ball. This makes it easy for hunters to poach them because they can just pick them up.

Pangolin scales are made of keratin, just like our fingernails and Rhino horn.

Pangolins are hunted for meat, for use in traditional medicine and as fashion accessories. The large-scale illegal trade in Asian pangolins is drastically driving down their numbers.

An estimate of 1,000 Rhinos are poached a year and 10,000 Pangolins.

If you would like to find out more about the Pangolin, World Pangolin Day, or why and how Pangolins are poached and cooked visit:

Written by Tersha van Staden