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Surprising ‘Rediscovery’: Rare Giant Pangolin Caught on Trail Cam

For the first time this century, a giant pangolin proved it still exists in Senegal by walking past a trail cam in Niokolo-Koba National Park (NKNP). The last time wildlife officials captured this incredibly rare and endangered African animal on camera was in 1999.

A newly published research paper by Mouhamadou Mody Ndiaye and other scientists in the African Journal of Ecology details the find. “Following a large camera-trap survey carried out in NKNP in 2023, we present photographic evidence that giant pangolins are still present in the park,” researchers write in the abstract.

The researchers say the scientific community lacks detailed knowledge about pangolin distribution in West Africa. Because they lack evidence these animals still exist in certain areas of their historic range on the African continent, scientists suspect/fear many local extinctions.

However, giant pangolins aren’t extinct in Senegal, thanks to the photographic evidence caught on camera in Senegal’s Niokolo-Koba National Park back in March 2023 (as reported by NewScientist). “Such rediscoveries not only underscore the importance of systematic biodiversity inventories, but also the critical value of West Africa’s large protected areas,” the researchers say.

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The Plight of the Pangolins

Giant ground pangolins are the largest pangolin species, and the IUCN lists them as endangered. Humans hunt pangolins for their meat and their scales, which locals in Africa use in traditional medicine. Pangolins are also illegally trafficked to and within Asia for use in traditional medicine. Habitat loss further threatens all eight pangolin species across Africa and Asia. (Four pangolin species live in Africa and four live in Asia.)

Pangolins are unique scaled mammals that can roll up into a ball to defend themselves against predators. These secretive animals eat insects like ants and termites. They use their long front claws to dig for food and their long tongues to slurp up creepy-crawlies. Most species are nocturnal.

Check out some rare footage of wild giant pangolins here:

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