The Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) and the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) launched the 2016 Red List of Mammals of South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland in December 2016. Each week, we’ll be bringing you new species assessments, and introducing you to our Mammal of the Week, based on this updated Red List.

Temminck’s Ground Pangolin
Smutsia temminckii

This week’s mammal of the week is the elusive Temminck’s Ground Pangolin. Did you know that pangolins have large, protective keratin scales covering their skin, and they are the only known mammals with this feature? The Temminck’s Ground Pangolin is the most widespread of the African pangolin species, occurring from the northern parts of South Africa, northwards through East Africa, and reaching its northern limits in southern Sudan and Chad. Due to their predominantly nocturnal and secretive nature, their abundance is probably underestimated; although it is expected that their population is in decline. Electrified fences probably pose the largest risk to the species in South Africa as they are often electrocuted when they become entangled in the wires. There is also a growing demand for African pangolins in Asian markets and this demand, coupled with local demand for the muthi market, has resulted in increased pressure on the species. The species is therefore listed as Vulnerable.

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The 2016 Red List of Mammals of South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland was funded via the South African National Biodiversity Institute (through a grant by the Norwegian Government that aims to build capacity in the southern Africa region for undertaking assessments), the Endangered Wildlife Trust, the Department of Environmental Affairs, E Oppenheimer & Son and De Beers Group of Companies.