Mammal With Scales

Taken at The Greater Makalali Private Game Reserve, South Africa

Pangolins are a rarely seen animal, so rare many guides have never seen one so they often features highly on many people’s “list of animals to see.” This Cape Pangolin (Manis temminckii), native to Southern Africa, was found close to the Twines Research Base …but while everyone was out in town so only 3 staff members, including myself, got the privileged sighting!

Made of keratin, just like human hair and rhino horns, pangolin scales are unfortunately a sought after commodity used in munti (traditional medicine). This unique characteristic may make it look like a reptile but it is in fact a mammal. It walks on its hind legs and when threatened, curls into a ball like a hedgehog leaving the scales on the outside just like an armour.

–Alex Tweedie


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