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from photographer Graeme Teague Photography


Cape Pangolin 9728

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Caption: Cape Pangolin 9728
Scientific name: Smutsia temminckii
Location: Nambia
Copyright: © Hurd / gtphoto 832-526-1123 gtphoto@shaw.ca
AGPix ID: AGPix_GrTePh23_1449
Digital Original
Comments: A rare Cape Pangolin, foraging in the bush near Otjiwarongo, Namibia, walks on her hind legs because her digging claws makes walking on all fours awkward. The ground pangolin also known as Temminck's pangolin or the Cape pangolin, is one of four species of pangolins which can be found in Africa, and the only one in southern and eastern Africa. As a group, pangolins are among the most critically endangered animals in the world. Although their outward appearance is reptilian, pangolins are mammals. Pangolins are almost completely covered in overlapping, protective scales, which makes up about 20% of their body weight. The scales are composed of keratin, the same material that forms human hair and fingernails, and give pangolins an appearance similar to a pinecone or artichoke. The underside of a pangolin is not covered with scales, but sparse fur, instead. When threatened, it usually rolls up into a ball, thus protecting its vulnerable belly. Little is known about the pangolin, as it is difficult to study in the wild. Pangolins are solitary animals and only interact for mating. They dig and live in deep burrows made of semispherical chambers. The ground pangolin is wholly myrmecophagous, meaning that they only feed on ants and termites. The two main threats encountered by ground pangolin populations are habitat loss and illegal trafficking. Illegal trade has an even stronger impact, as pangolins are reported to be the most trafficked animal in the world (with elephants a close second). The scales alone account for 20% of the black market in protected animal parts; they are boiled off the body and used for traditional medicines. Pangolin meat is sold as a high-end delicacy in China and Vietnam, the blood is believed to be a healing tonic, and pangolin fetuses have alleged health benefits and aphrodisiac qualities. A conservative estimate of pangolins trafficked illegally each year is 10,000, while actual numbers for a two-year period may be in excess of 200,000. How many are left in the wild is unknown. Pangolins are generally poorly known to the public and their endangered status has so far received much less publicity than in the case of more iconic species. GTPHOTO is a brillaint knowledge/photo agency with all award winning photographers, filmmakers, scientists, authors & guides covering our world.

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