The Massive Pangolins of Africa

The Massive Pangolins of Africa

Nigel J. Dennis

By Rina Herzl

Africa is home to the largest of all pangolins, the giant pangolin. This species can weigh up to 72 pounds and measure nearly six feet long. From Senegal to Uganda, the giant pangolin dwells in a range of environments, from rainforests to wooded savannas. Equipped with gargantuan and powerful claws, the heaviest of all pangolins is an adept digger, capable of collapsing ground insect colonies and shoveling burrows. As with other African pangolin species, the giant pangolin is a victim of poaching and land degradation, which are severely threatening  their populations. They are now listed as Endangered.

A ground pangolin.

Nigel J. Dennis

The ground pangolin, the second largest of all pangolins, is the only species found in eastern and southern Africa, stretching from the northern tip of Chad to the southern tip of South Africa. For that reason, it is also known as the Cape pangolin. As an entirely terrestrial species, they inhabit arid savanna, scrub, and desert ecosystems. Despite the ground pangolin's ability to dig underground dens, it often uses the burrows of other animals, including aardvarks and aardwolves. The species is listed as Vulnerable.