Birds of prey populations across Africa are collapsing

Why are these birds having population collapse?

  • Martial eagle
  • Bateleur eagle
  • Dark chanting goshawk

are all disappearing rapidly. Indeed, a study of 42 species, 90% had seen significant declines, with more than 2/3 (that is 28 species) showing evidence of becoming extinct.

Read more: Birds of prey populations across Africa are collapsing

The problem is that, this is not merely a case of the large raptors disappearing, and no longer being able to follow the circling vultures to find a kill. Instead, it has very serious consequences for human populations. The decline of the Indian vultures lead to a rise in rabies in the local human population in the early 1990s.

The African birds are very large, with some having the capability of hunting prey as large as jackals and antelopes. Encouragingly, this decline has been far less noticeable within reserves, and should we meet our target of setting aside 30% of land for conservation, it would allow more to thrive.

This has been worse in west Africa, where there are not enough protected areas, and those that exist do not have enough funding. In India, the lack of vultures has lead to an increase in the feral dog population, which has lead to an increase in rabies as these dogs bite humans that they interact with

African elephant populations in southern Africa have stabilized!

Southern African hosts roughly 227,000 elephants out of 415,000 on the continent (in addition there is around 100,000 forest elephants).

In 2020, the estimate was that 30,000 elephants were being killed each year. While the majority of these were in the west african rainforest, and in east africa (it was estimated that the Selous lost 10s of thousands alone).

It is not even just in recent years, but over the last century, that the elephant population in southern Africa has fallen.

Another bonus, is that scientists are now finding clear proof in study after study, that elephants do better in reserves connected to other reserves, than they do in fortress reserves.

It is of course true, that a single reserve is better than nothing. However, increasingly, countries are recognizing that by building their reserves on the borders of their countries, their neighbours can also have reserves, and between them they can put aside enough land to truly allow elephants to live a more natural life.

From the Limpopo transfrontier park – a transfrontier reserve that includes the Kruger, to the Kalahari Zambezi transfrontier park, the Serengeti mara ecosystem and so many more, this is being shown over and over again.

Careful planning of reserves in west african rainforests, can expand this success at great speed if done carefully.

Platinum Rhino, the worlds largest captive rhino breeding operation sold to africaparksnetwork! (update, instagram embed did not work)

Hearing this news, one might think “great, another 10-20 rhino”? Think again.

Platinum rhino holds as much as 15% of the current wild population in its operation -2000 individuals. Here is an instagram on the news!

This could be great! Current rhino numbers are estimated to be in the low 2000, down 79% since 2011. Releasing the whole herd back into the Kruger could allow numbers a sizable boost, and rapidly move the kruger back towards its former stronghold of the white rhino. However, in the first half of 2023 over 200 rhino were poached from the Kruger, suggesting that this is not going to be easy.

Unfortunately, the Kruger is already one of the best preserved large reserves in the world. Thankfully, rhino horn has dropped in value from its peak in 2012 of $65,000 per kg, down to a current $8000 per kg. It would be good to depress this further, however the risks for the poacher are very high: not only are many poachers killed by the rhino, they are also often killed by other wildlife such as lions – and the Kruger has a sizable number of man-eating specialists.

I suspect the organization will spread the rhino around, across many of their reserves. Hopefully the recognition that farms like this make no sense, will allow them to thrive back in the wild.

Education is still needed in China, Vietnam and elsewhere. Rhino horn is the same substance as your finger-nails, Keratin. Consuming it will make no difference to any medical condition, science has tried to show any positive health benefit, and can see nothing scientific – at best a placebo effect.

Below, is a video about this farm, 6 years ago back in its heyday. Hopefully, all these rhino can recover white rhino populations far and wide.

Could bonobos go extinct because of malaria?

Humans are not the only species of primate which can get ill or die as a result of malaria – an illness carried by mosquitos. The problem is, that while humans have developed ways to fight the infection, and many humans live far from where they could get bitten, the Chimpanzees gorillas orangutans and Bonobos all live in hot humid rainforests which are perfect breeding places.

Bonobos live the other side of the Congo river to chimpanzees, and while a relatively recent species to appear, they are very different to chimpanzees – make love not war, the hippy priimate.

This becomes a greater problem when humans have already reduced these species populations so dramatically.

One bonobo population was found to have developed an immunity to the illness, but unfortunately this has not been discovered anywhere else.

Should bonobos have got this condition naturally, it would have been fine – while it may have killed a small percentage, overall they would have been fine. Unfortunately, we have pushed them so close to extinction, that in many areas they cannot afford these extra deaths from malaria.

Up until recently, while infection had been noted in other great ape species, bonobos had not been found to suffer from the condition, but now we know better.

The issue is that, with humans having reduced populations through direct hunting and deforestation, the loss of any individual can have a far greater impact on the local population.

More people going to see this species in the wild would help save them, as it will give them value to the local population. We hope to add links that you can use to arrange your wild travel as soon as possible.

Pangolins are returning to Kenya

Long thought to be extinct in the country, one was caught, back in 2018. As a result, effort is being put into protecting this species. Farmland around the Serengeti erected electric fences in order to stop elephants from stealing their crops, however, unfortunately, they have been having an unintended consequence.

Pangolins need to be able to roam large distances, and they have been regularly being electrocuted. Unfortunately, they roll up in a ball, as a natural reaction to threat, and this has lead to many rolling up around the wire, thereby being electrocuted.

This discovery in 2018 was of a dead pangolin, and as a result, many farmers have changed how their electric fence works to help protect this creature.

There are only thought to be 30-80 pangolins left in the country, but by making these small changes, the few pangolins that remain will be able to thrive, and the population is likely to grow.

This is a pangolin sighting that was filmed on the Massai mara

Yellow-spotted Hyrax

Yellow-spotted Hyrax

Photo credit: D. Gordon, E. Robertson

Yellow-spotted Hyrax

Yellow-spotted hyrax, has a recognized 25 subspecies, though given the vast range of this species, this is perhaps not a surprise. They generally live in rocky areas and rock Kojes, that can be seen littered across savannah

It is listed as least concern, though in some areas it is hunted by humans, which has caused local problems. They are browsers, eating leaves twigs and other edible things it comes across (I have seen one eat a banana skin.

Kruger National Park and Mapungubwe National Park, are two reserves where they can be seen.

Countries containing at least some of their range, include  Angola, Botswana, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, southern Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Somalia, northern South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe

Though rock hyraxes resemble rodents, their closest living relatives are actually elephants and manatees.


African Porcupine

Photo credit: Eric Kilby from Somerville, MA, USA

Porcupine family

The porcupine family is a highly varied thing. There are a total of 11 species of old world porcupines (Africa and Asia and Europe) and a total of 20 species in the Americas (new world)

Firstly the old world Porcupines: Family Hystricidae

African brush-tail porcupine

This is a species of rat-like porcupine, found in a broad belt of Equatorial Africa, right across the continent from Guinea to Kenya. 

40-50cm long and weighing 3kg, with short legs and long body, it does look like a very large rat (without a long tail). It has webbed feet, and light small quills, which are thinner and more like a brush on the tail. It makes a rattling noise when it moves.

Living in family groups of around 8 (they are not territorial and will share ranges with other groups) they defend themselves, like other porcupines by charging backwards. They are herbivorous, eating leaves, flowers and fruits from the forest floor. They also eat roots and palm nuts. They are happy to eat from carrion (dead animals) be it the remains of a kill, or simply deceased animals. They will also happily invade crops of maize, cassava and bananas to feed, when these are close to the forest. Pregnancy lasts 110 days, and young are fully developed at 2 years old, and can live to around 13 years.

Despite it being used extensively for bushmeat – it is popular, the International Union for Conservation of Nature has rated its conservation status as being of “least concern”. At the current time, it appears that the bushmeat trade is not overly pressuring the population, as it has not apparently gone even locally extinct. Still, the population should be watched, as if the amount consumed were to increase, this chould change quickly.


Asiatic brush-tail porcupine

It is a nocturnal (and a good digger, spending much of its time under ground) occurring in subtropical and tropical montane forests. It is found on the forest floor, often in areas with profuse undergrowth.

It makes burrows, which may be occupied by up to three animals. The female produces one or two litters a year, of a single young, after a gestation period of around 100 days.

Known to be one of the rarest porcupines in South Asia, the species is protected under Schedule II of the Indian Wildlife Protection Act, though bizarrely not listed in CITES. It has been recorded from Namdapha National Park in India. It is present in a number of protected areas in Southeast Asia.

Studies have found that while it usually looks for food at night (usually for 3 hours after midnight) this behaviour is affected by other animals, which if present in its vicinity, will mean it will only be active at dawn and dusk. They eat similar things to their African cousins (species to the left.

They are hunted for both bushmeat and their quills, but again are currently listed as least concern. This population should also be watched to make sure that this does not change.




Below is a video of this species in the wild

Cape porcupine

The Cape porcupine (also called Cape crested porcupine or South African porcupine, is a species of Old World porcupine) found in central and southern Africa. These are the largest porcupine species, as well as the largest African rodent.

They avoid dense jungle swampland, and driest of desert, and are not found above 2000m,but short of this they are widespread.

Cape porcupines eat mostly plant material including fruit roots, bulbs and bark. They have a long small intestine and large caecum, employing hindgut fermentation to break down the tough materials in their food, which includes bones and carrion, which they have been known to consume where they encounter it. They are often considered pests by local farmers, because they can feed on crops and damage trees, though in savannahs their debarking of trees may also be helping to prevent the development of denser forested environments. 

Within national parks, they are not generally seen often (partly as a result of being nocturnal). I have only seen them once in the Kruger, during a night drive. They are clearly more common than this, we have encountered their quills lying on the ground, all over the place.

Home range varies from around 2/3 -2 square km. 

Its first defence is to freeze, but it will charge backwards, if the threat continues. They can live for 10 years in the wild and even up to 20 in captivity.

Crested porcupine

The crested porcupine,  (also called the African crested porcupine) is native to North Africa (though it may be locally extinct in Egypt) and sub-Saharan Africa. It is also found in Italy, where the romans introduced it as an extra food source. While accurate estimates on the population size are not seemingly easy to find, Tuscany has a large enough population for it to be one of the more often sighted species when active (at night). Below, I have embedded some footage of an Italian Porcupine

It rarely climbs trees, but can swim well.

If disturbed, as other porcupine species, it will eventually charge backward. Given quills are not particularly clean, it can cause infection. Quill injuries have killed lions leopards and hyenas, as well as humans.

They are classed as least concern in the wild.


Below is a video of the crested porcupine in their native habitat. The video shows an African leopard trying to take a baby porcupine, however the parents are more than a match on this occasion

Indian porcupine

The Indian  porcupine is a rodent species native to southern Asia and the Middle East. It weighs 11-18kg and is 70-90cm long. It has similar looking quills to the African Porcupine, and has a similar diet.


While its lifespan in the wild is unknown, a captive female lived to 27 years.

It is listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List, and in parts of its range is common enough to be considered a pest.




Long-tailed porcupine

The long-tailed porcupine is a species of rodent like other porcupines. It is found in Brunei, Indonesia, and Malaysia.

Usually weighing between 1.7kg and 2.3kg, they can weigh less. They are 28-48cm long, with a tail of around 24cm. They can drop their tail to save themselves from predators, though it will not regrow. They have large paws, and they are good climbers, allowing them to browse at the top of bushes and trees. While they are good seed dispersers, their feeding on trees can kill them. They are also considered nuisance by humans, as they can destroy crops.

They are listed as least concern.


Malayan porcupine

The Malayan porcupine or Himalayan porcupine is a species of rodent. The head and body measurement are around 56-74 cm and the tail is about 6–11 cm. They weigh around 10 kg-18 kg. They normally feed on roots, tubers, bark and fallen fruits. They also eat carrion, insects, and large tropical seeds. They forage at night and rests during the day. It may be found singly or in pairs. It can also swim and gnaw. The sow usually has one, but twins have also been recorded.

They are hunted for meat and traditional medicine, but currently have a conservation status of least concern.


Sumatran porcupine

Found only on the island of Sumatra in Indonesia, this species is hunted for food. This appears to be yet to have any impact on the population as a whole, as it is still listed as least concern. This does require the scientific community to keep an eye on it, and make sure that the consumption of this species does not start causing its extinction.




It can weigh up to 30kn and measure up to 1m in length.


Sunda porcupine

The Sunda (or Javan) porcupine  is a species of rodent. It is endemic to Indonesia. Due to the popularity of the hunting and consumption of the Sunda porcupine as an aphrodisiac, the Ministry of Environment and Forestry in Indonesia has listed this species as a protected animal as of June 2018.

As of yet, the IUCN listing stays at least concern.

A short video, little choice, just some facts (sorry about the music)


Thick spined porcupine (borneon Porcupine)

The thick-spined  porcupine  is a species of rodent It is endemic to the island of Borneo. it is found in a wide variety of habitats ranging from natural forest to agricultural land and from sea

 level up to 1200m. Although this porcupine is hunted for food, it is not  considered a concern due to its wide distribution and high tolerance for habitat changes.

In 1996, the species was Near Threatened, but by 2008, this had improved to Least Concern.

Philippine porcupine

The Philippine porcupine (also called Palawan porcupine) is a species of rodent endemic to the island of Palawan in the Philippines. It is known locally as durian or landak.

Its population is claimed to be stable, butkilled farmers. Common in some areas, the species is found in primary and secondary forest in the mountains and in the lowlands. This species also lives in caves and under tree buttresses or in rock crevices. It endemic and restricted to the Palawan Faunal Region. 

This mammal appears to have no natural enemies.  It’s 40–90cm long, with tail 2.5–20cm  and weighs 3.8–5.4 kg.It is listed as vulnerable by the IUCN

Andean porcupine

The Andean porcupine or Quichua porcupine is a species of rodent. It is found in the Andes of northern Ecuador and Colombia as well as in Panama. This porcupine is little known, but is probably arboreal, nocturnal and solitary like its relatives. The species is thought to be uncommon to rare and the population decreasing. It is threatened by deforestation, habitat fragmentation and agriculture. It is 60-80cm long (including tail), and weighs 2kg when fully grown. The ecology of this species is little known. Its behaviour is likely to resemble that of its close relatives in being nocturnal and arboreal, and feeding on fruit and leaves.

Although it looks different, it has sometimes been described as a subspecies of the bicolored-spined porcupine, however, genetic studies have shown it to be closest to the stump-tailed porcupine . Rothschild’s porcupine of Panama was formerly considered a distinct species, but phylogenetic evidence indicates that both are synonymous.

Its IUCN rating is data deficient, but given the destruction of its forest home, it is unlikely to be doing well. It is rarely seen, making it hard to study.

Bahai hairy porcupine

The Bahia porcupine, is a New World porcupine species endemic to the Atlantic Forest of south-eastern Brazil.  Sphiggurus pallidus was formerly considered a separate species but known from two young specimens only, is a synonym of this species.

Its conservation status is least concern.

Bicoloured spiney porcupine

The bicolored-spined porcupine (Coendou bicolor) is a species of nocturnal and arboreal rodent in the family Erethizontidae.

The head and body of Coendou bicolor measure about 543 mm, and another 481 mm is tail. The body is covered with dense spines, pale yellow at the base and black-tipped, and significantly darker on the midback. The bicolored-spined porcupine has a fully prehensile tail that is primarily free of spines.

Its conservation status is least concern

Black dwarf (Koopmans) porcupine

The black dwarf porcupine also called Koopman’s porcupine, is a porcupine species from the New World and is endemic to northern Brazil. It occurs in the Amazon rainforest east of the Madeira River and south of the Amazon River. It inhabits primary forest and possibly second growth. It was described as Coendou koopmani by Charles O. Handley Jr. and Ronald H. Pine in 1992, but was subsequently found to be identical to a species described in 1818. It is nocturnal and herbivorous.

Black tailed hairy porcupine

The black-tailed hairy dwarf porcupine is a porcupine species, found in Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Suriname and Venezuela.

This species was formerly sometimes assigned to Sphiggurus, a genus no longer recognized since genetic studies showed it to be polyphyletic. Its closest relatives are the frosted hairy dwarf porcupine, the brown hairy dwarf porcupine  and the streaked dwarf porcupine.

Brown hairy dwarf porcupine

The brown hairy dwarf porcupine is a species of rodent in the family Erethizontidae. Found in the Andes in Colombia and Venezuela, its natural habitat is subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests. It is not easy to study as it is only known from a few specimens and wasn’t recorded from 1925 until the 2000s. The porcupine is nocturnal and arboreal, feeding on leaves, shoots, and fruits. Habitat loss severely threatens it and it may even be extinct. Formerly listed as vulnerable, it is now designated data deficient. It is not known from any protected areas or conservation measures.

This species was formerly sometimes assigned to Sphiggurus, a genus no longer recognized since genetic studies showed it to be polyphyletic. Its closest relative is the frosted hairy dwarf porcupine.

Its conservation status is data deficient.

Paraguaian hairy dwarf porcupine – Coendou speratus ,

The Paraguaian hairy dwarf porcupine is a porcupine species from the family Erethizontidae. It is found in Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay.

They have a short tail and grey brown quills and feed on fruits, ant pupae, vegetables and roots.

This species was formerly sometimes assigned to Sphiggurus, a genus no longer recognized since genetic studies showed it to be polyphyletic. The population formerly recognized as the orange-spined hairy dwarf porcupine has been reclassified to this species. Its closest relatives are the bicolored-spined porcupine and the black dwarf porcupine.

Frosted hairy dwarf porcupine

The frosted hairy dwarf porcupine is a porcupine species in the family Erethizontidae from Colombia and northern and eastern Venezuela. It was formerly sometimes assigned to Sphiggurus, a genus no longer recognized since genetic studies showed it to be polyphyletic. The species lives in lowland tropical rainforest and cloud forest at elevations from 50 to 2,600m. Its closest relative is the brown hairy dwarf porcupine.

It is listed as least concern

Mexican hairy dwarf porcupine

The Mexican hairy dwarf porcupine or Mexican tree porcupine is a species of rodent. It is found in Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama, Mexico, Nicaragua and Belize.  Its closest relatives are the Andean porcupine, and the stump-tailed porcupine.

This porcupine has a pale head and a dark-coloured body. The length of head and body is 32cm-45cm, with a tail ranging from 20-36cm. The maximum weight is about 2.6 kg.

 This porcupine is covered with short yellowish spines but these are hard to see, due to the long black hair covering the body. Sometimes the spines on the shoulders and back are visible projecting through the hairs. By contrast, the head is hairless, revealing the yellowish spines. The snout is pink, broad and bulbous, and the eyes are small. The tail is prehensile, spiny and broad at the base, tapering to a point. This porcupine differs from Rothschild’s porcupine in that Rothschild’s is more obviously spiny and lacks the hairy coat.

Living in the trees, it uses its prehensile tail to hold onto branches. It is nocturnal and is usually more active on dark nights. The day is spent in a hollow tree, concealed on a leafy branch, or in highland areas, in a clump of bamboos. As it uses the same hiding place each day, a pile of droppings accumulates which produces a strong odour. The diet consists of buds, young leaves, fruits and seeds. It particularly favours fruiting trees such as Inga, Cecropia, Ficus and Brosimum.

Individuals normally live alone and are silent, but in the breeding season it is more vocal, emitting screams and yowls. The female usually bears a single offspring.

Its conservation status is least concern.


North American Porcupine

The North American porcupine, also known as the Canadian porcupine, is a large quill-covered rodent in the New World porcupine family. It is the second largest rodent in North America after the North American beaver. The porcupine is a caviomorph rodent whose ancestors crossed the Atlantic from Africa to Brazil 30 million years ago, and then migrated to North America during the Great American Interchange when central America became a bridge between the two continents. There are 7 recognized subspecies.

  • E. d. dorsatum
  • E. d. bruneri
  • E. d. couesi
  • E. d. epixanthum
  • E. d. myops
  • E. d. nigrescens
  • E. d. picinum

It has 30,000 quills all over its body (these are modified hair. It can raise and lower them as reqiured.

It also has a strong odour, which warns away predators. It is also a good climber. Natural predators of this species include fishers (a cat-sized mustelid), wolverines, coyotes, wolves,[American black bears, and cougars, as well as humans. The only known avian predators of this species are golden eagles and great horned owls. All the quills have barbs on them, which means that even if the porcupine is killed by the predator, they often die afterwards, from infection transmitted from the quills.

They can live for 30 years, but death is usually a result of starvation, predation, falling out of a tree or being run over.

As a species, it is least concern however areas like Mexico have an alarmingly low population.

Roosmalens dwarf porcupine

Found in northern Brazil,  it has not been assessed properly, and only a few specimens have been found

It is listed as data deficient

Rothschild porcupine

The Rothschild’s Porcupine is a mysterious animal in many ways. An uncommon and nocturnal species, it has barely been studied in the field and its behavior and ecology remain poorly known. Its taxonomic status is also in dispute. Most interestingly for our purposes, the Rothschild’s Porcupine has never been recorded with certainty outside of Panama and so is officially regarded by many sources as a Panamanian endemic. With some luck, these porcupines can be found on nighttime excursions, or even at daytime roosts, at or around all three Canopy Family properties, although they are most often seen near the Canopy Tower.

The Rothschild’s Porcupine is almost entirely covered with black and yellowish-white spines, excepting its underbelly and its bulbous pink nose. Its tail is prehensile, as its lifestyle is mostly arboreal. It is active at night. Its diet includes fruits and leaves, and Canopy Family guides have observed that it is especially fond of Membrillo fruits.

The natural predator most often hunting it, is the Ocelot.


Santa Marta Porcupine

The Santa Marta porcupine is a rodent . It is known from dry forests on the lower slopes of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta and Serranía del Perijá mountains of northern Colombia, at altitudes below 500 and 1100 m, respectively, and intervening lowlands, and may also be present in nearby parts of Venezuela.

There is some debate as to whether it is a subspecies, or not, we will leave this conversation to finish before deciding.

Spine tailed porcupine

Streaked dwarf porcupine

Stump tailed porcupine

Brazilian or Prehensile tailed porcupine



The Aardvark is an incredibly rarely seen animal. It is found on the savannahs of Africa, and generally lives well in and out of protected areas. It is quite a sizable aniimals, and has relatively high densities throughout its range (roughly 1 per square km in habitats that it is best suited to).

So why is it so rare to see this animal? They are one of the most exclusively nocturnal species that you can find. These are animals for which wildlife guides get excited.

The name, translated from Afrikaans means earth-pig. They are incredible diggers, and many of the burrows in the savannah are dug by them, who ever ends up using them.

The are insect eaters, and are well suited. Their claws are strong, allowing them to dig into the incredibly hard termite mounds, it has a long tongue of around 30cm, which they can direct down ant holes to get hold of their food. They have an incredible sense of smell and hearing to allow them to find the animals, and can shut their eyes and nose so as to avoid being attacked back.

Although rarely seen, there are places which have learnt how to watch them, giving you a great chance to see an animal few know about. Over recent decades, they have started appearing in zoos, with Colchester in the UK (should you visit, it is a species that needs patience, otherwise you are likely to just see a pile of aardvarks sleeping in their burrow.

It is at the top of animals I would like to see in the wild. Given, their range both in and out of reserves, I am hoping over time to build up plenty of places to see them out in the human world. Please get in touch if you are a farmer, who has these on your land.

Any of the savannah ecosystems on our wild places list will host these animals, however a great deal of luck will be needed to see them in the wild. However, we will add an special places we find where your odds are higher. For now, click here, if you want to visit a savannah ecosystem in the near future.


Rock hyrax


The Hyrax is a family of species. All falling in the Order Hyracoidea, and the family Pracaviidae. While their look would not suggest it, this family is very closely related to the elephant

Within this family, there are 3 Genus, 2 with just one species, and one with 4. You will see labeled pictures below. Click on any to find out more.

                          Heterohyrax                                                                                                                                                 Dendrohyrax


It should be noted, that the Benin tree hyrax was only decided in recent years, as such it is still debated as to whether it is a separate species, or just subspecies.

As many as 50 subspecies have been described. As destinations for these different species start to get added, I will add these to the grid above. As with all species on this website, we are eager to work with people on the ground, to allow tourism to see this species. given how well hyraxes do outside reserves, it may well be a species easier seen in areas of local population. Get in touch if you have a destination to list (link at the top of the main page. While fascinating to watch (we watched one eat a whole banana skin) they are often overlooked. They have less status than lions and elephants, but can also be found in more places

Yellow-spotted hyrax, has a recognized 25 subspecies, though given the vast range of this species, this is perhaps not a surprise. They generally live in rocky areas and rock Kojes, that can be seen littered across savannah

It is (in some areas) hunted by humans, which has caused local problems. They are browsers, eating leaves twigs and other edible things it comes across (I have seen one eat a banana skin.

It is listed as least concern


Southern tree hyrax It is  found in temperate forests, subtropical or tropical dry forests, subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests, subtropical or tropical moist montane forests, moist savanna, and rocky areas.

It may be found at elevations up to 4,500m across a wide range of countries. It is largely nocturnal. The males call is an alarming series of shrieks.

It is listed as least concern.

Western tree hyrax, also known as the western tree dassie or Beecroft tree hyrax,

Western tree hyraxes tend to be solitary, and only occasionally are found in groups of two or three. They are nocturnal and generally feed at night. It has been noted that this species is an especially adept climber. The gestation period is about eight months with a litter size one or two young.

It is listed as least concern

Rock or cape hyrax has 5 recognized subspecies, again, unsurprising given its vast range. Generally having a hide within a natural rock cavity, Rock hyraxes are social animals that live in colonies of up to 50 individuals. They sleep in one group, and start the day, warming up in the sun

They are also listed as least concern

Eastern tree hyrax is the most localized of the tree hyrax species, only found in places within a narrow band of lowland and montane forests in Kenya and Tanzania and close-by islands. A solitary species, it lives in tree cavities, and communicates with others, through scent marking and high pitched calls. 

They are classed as near threatened by the IUCN, with poaching being a big threat, particularly on Mount Kilimanjaro and throughout the Eastern arc mountains.

Benin tree hyrax is found in the region between the Niger and Volta Rivers in West Africa, hence the name.

It can be distinguished from neighbouring Dendrohyrax dorsalis by its night-time barking vocalizations, its shorter and broader skull, and its lighter pelage.

This is a species that is not currently agreed. However, if/when it is, it has been assessed by the IUCN as being least concern

Pangolin Family – Manoidea

Pangolins or the family Manidae

Pangolins are a strange group of animals. There is little other animals that look like them. Oddly, they are in the same supergroup as Bears dogs cats and other carnivores, though given that they eat insects they are carnivores. Indeed, in the past there was an order Insectivora, however this order has been abandoned, as it turns out some insect-eaters are not closely related (indeed, while often looking similar it appears that this is generally a case of convergent evolution – i.e. similar habits and similar requirements requiring the same body parts, so you end up with a similar animal.

Anyway, in this instance, it is not surprising, as all of the pangolins are part of the same tribe – sister genera essentially. There are quite a few ” cousins” species at one point but all these have gone. I would hope, that at some point people would stop believing that Keratin (a pangolin scales is made of the same substance as human nails, yet while chewing your own nails is seen as bad manners, for some reason pangolin scales, like items like rhino horn, are claimed to be able to cure everything from headache to erectile difficulties. Of course, there is no scientific case for this belief, but that has not stopped the price of these scales has reached $3000 dollars per kg, with an animal holding about half a kg (the most scaly is the Philippines pangolin, which holds almost a kg – this is the equivalent of almost a year of a local salary, unfortunately making it well worth it, to spend months looking for this rare animal)

The Manidae (in ancient roman religions this was meaning spirits- chthonic deities of deceased loved ones )  includes 3 genera.

Manis contains all of the surviving Asian Pangolins known as the Asian Clade, though the last 3 are in Subgenus: Paramanis – southeast asian pangolins

Please note, I have not included Manis .sp which is a proposed fifth Asiatic species of this family, and this is still a long way from being confirmed.

Due to their cryptic nature, and current hunting pressures, there is little tourism around these species, and little likelihood of any in the near future. As such, while I would like to separate these species out into their own pages, it is unlikely to ever be necessary within the scopes of this website. Having said this, I am looking for partners, should anyone be working with tourism of these species, do get in touch through the link at the top of the page – we can mask the location, but are keen to help give living pangolins a worth as soon as possible.

Below is a list of each species, with a video of them. We hope to add links to go see them, and support their long-term future, we will have to see if tourism of these strange animals every takes off.

Chinese Pangolin

The Chinese pangolin is listed as critically endangered, having had an 80% decline in its population in 21 years (or 3 generations). Its threat is poaching for the illegal wildlife trade.

It is thought that at most 10,000 remain now. Given the huge number poached from elsewhere each year, it is highly unlikely that poaching for this species has stopped. They may well be hunted into extinction in the near future.

Indian (thick tailed) pangolin

The Indian pangolin (also known as >thick-tailed pangolin and scaly anteater) is a species found on the Indian subcontinent. It is listed as endangered, and CITES appendix 1

The size of the population is unclear (generally all estimates are very vague as they are usually secretive nocturnal animals rarely seen by humans

Philippine (Palawan) Pangolin

The Philippine pangolin (also known as the Palawan Pangolin) is only found in the Palawan district. Its habitat includes primary and secondary forests, as well as the grasslands that surround it.

It is listed as critically endangered by the IUCN, though with no idea of the former population, and no idea of the current one, it is hard to have any idea. People estimate that the population has fallen by 95% in the last 40 years.

Sunda (Malayan or Javan) Pangolin

The Sunda Pangolin (also known as Malayan & Javan pangolin) is found throughout Southeast Asia, including Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, and the islands of Borneo, Java, Sumatra and the Lesser Sunda-Islands. It lives in forests (including plantations) and spends much time in trees.

It is listed as critically endangered, with a  further 80% decline expected in the next 20 years unless something changes. Positive news, is that unlike elsewhere, where locals don’t see pangolins anymore (because there are so few) here they are still seen. The video is a rescued baby of this species.

In the African Clade, there are 2 subfamilies each containing 1 genus, and each containing two living members 

                 Smutsiinae (large african pangolins )                                                                                                             Phatagininae (Smalll african pangolins)                                                         Genus: Smutsia  (African ground pangolin)                                                                                                    Genus: Phataginus  (African tree pangolin) 

Giant pangolin

Found from west Africa to Uganda, it weighs 30-40kg and can grow to 1.8m long (including the tail, which is almost as long as its body). It is found in savannah, forest and rainforest, anywhere with large termite populations and a source of water.

They are threatened by foolish beliefs about the medicinal value of pangolin scales – education does help, and much work is being done to deal with the demand in Asia. Demand has dropped dramatically in China, though places like Vietnam have recently developed a desire for similar things.

The penalty needs to be huge, in order to stop the slaughter before we loose these unique species.

The giant pangolin is CITES appendix 1, meaning all trade is banned. It is thought to be extinct in Rwanda. Part of the problem with trying to conserve a species like this, is that it is so hard to see in the wild – without expertise, you could share land with large numbers of pangolins and never see one – as such estimates of the size of the population are hard to come by.

Ground (Temminck) pangolin

Found throughout Southern and Eastern Africa, the ground pangolin has a length between 56cm and 1.6m, with the tail measuring up to 70cm.

It is also known as the Temmink pangolin. They are classed as vulnerable, and prefer savannah woodland, with plenty of scrub. It is given a vulnerable rating, as it has declined by more than 10% in the last 9 years and are expected to have declined by a further 30% or so in the next 18 years – a decline of 30-40% over 3 generations is the definition.

While conservative estimates, suggest that just 10,000 are trafficked each year, a more reasonable estimate would be 250,000 ever 2 years, or more than 10 times the original estimate.

Unfortunately, being shy and nocturnal, it is rarely seen making it very hard to know how many are left in the wild. This obviously makes it hard to know which areas have healthy populations, and which have been poached out.

We need to do better. Finding more out about this fascinating animal (and assuming we can end the poaching) these weird creatures might be capable of providing large tourism income, even in relatively small reserves. Having a density (in good parts of South African lowveld) of as high as 0.12km squared (0.3 per square mile). While this is low, it does suggest that even a small reserve might have 100 of these animals.

Long-tailed (black bellied) pangolin

Also known as the black-bellied pangolin, its name comes from its appearance. It has a long tail, and black hair on its stomach.

It is usually 30-40cm long with a tail 60-70cm, and generally weights between 2 and 2.5kg. The tip of this species tail is bare, and slightly prehensile, allowing it to feel around and hold onto branches as the animal works its way around the treetops.

Interestingly, unlike other pangolin species this one is diurnal or active during the day (though this may be an adaption to not be in competition with the tree pangolin, which shares a similar range). They communicate with other individuals through scent. Found in moist, tropical riverine and swamp forest environmentsthey have been found in partially cleared forests bush, as well as farm-land, generally former lowland rain forests. They are almost exclusively found in trees, and at that, high in the forest canopy. They prefer to live deep in the interior part of the forests, avoiding areas too near the outside.. They are capable swimmers, and are usually found near water, often dropping off branches into the water below.

Their scales have become relatively good camouflage, as well as an extremely good defence mechanism (not only does a predator find it hard to get inside, once it has rolled up, but each scale can also be sharp. 

Given their ability to live in disturbed habitat, it is really only the poaching that threatens this species.

Tree (white bellied) pangolin

Also known as the white bellied pangolin, or the three-cusped pangolin, they are more common than the long-tailed pangolin. Measuring 33-43cm long, with a tail 49-62cm, they are smaller than some of the other species. There are 2 recognized subspecies, one confined to Uganda and another everywhere else.

Also relatively tolerant of changes to the environment, they can do reasonably well on plantations. It is the most common pangolin found as bushmeat, and its population is thought to have declined 20-25% between 1993 and 2008 (3 generations). As a result, its conservation status has moved from least concern in 1996 to becoming officially endangered in 2019. 

Further rare footage of a Pangolin (and an aardvark) looking for food, from the BBC documentary 7 worlds one planet. We will add links to go and see each of these as we get them. They will appear at the bottom of the page

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