From the eastern bank of the Sanaga River in Cameroon the species is fairly continuously distributed throughout the Congo Basin to Uganda (Kingdon and Hoyt in press). In Kenya, it has been observed on the lakeshore in west Kenya, close to the Uganda border (see Kingdon 1971). The latter author also published an authenticated record from the Mahale Mts, where their presence has been confirmed recently by camera-traps (C.A.H. Foley pers. comm.). There are no records from Sudan or Burundi (Kingdon and Hoyt in press), and they are believed extinct in Rwanda (Brautigam et al. 1994).
Giant pangolins live in Africa, along the equator from West Africa to Uganda.
Biogeographic Regions: ethiopian (Native )
The typical mass range of this species is not known, but one individual was found to weigh 33 kg. Male body length is about 140 cm; female about 125 cm. Manis gigantea is the largest of its genus, giving it the name "giant pangolin." It is covered with large, thick scales and has no hair (except eyelashes). The snout is long, and the scales are usually brown or reddish brown. It has long claws on the front feet and a long, wide tail.
Habitat and Ecology
This species lives in forests and savannahs where termites are abundant and water is available. It does not occur at high altitudes.
Terrestrial Biomes: forest ; rainforest ; scrub forest
Giant pangolins eat ants and termites. The dig into both subterranean and mound-type termite nests with their powerful claws, and they can eat a large quantity of these insects. Pangolins must also have access to drinking water.
Life History and Behavior
Little is known about the reproduction of this species. Two birth records indicate that a litter was found in September and another in October. The young weighed about 500 g at birth. The newborn has soft scales and its eyes are open. It cannot walk on its legs, but it is active and can scramble around on its stomach.
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
The abundance of giant pangolins is not well known, since they have not been studied in detail and because they are nocturnal, which makes them difficult to observe casually. It is clear that deforestation for timber, urban development and agricultural development have decreased the amount of habitat available. Hunting also decreases population levels. Manis gigantea is listed on CITES appendix II.
US Federal List: no special status
CITES: appendix ii
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: near threatened
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
Economic Importance for Humans: Negative
There are no known adverse effects of Manis gigantea on humans.
Economic Importance for Humans: Positive
Pangolins are hunted for their meat and for their scales, which are considered very desirable due to their use in native medicines and rituals.
The giant pangolin (Manis gigantea) is a pangolin species. Members of the species inhabit Africa with a range stretching along the equator from West Africa to Uganda. The giant pangolin is the largest species of pangolins, or "scaly anteaters" – the large, scaled mammals belonging to the family Manidae. It subsists almost entirely on ants and termites. The species was first described by Johann Karl Wilhelm Illiger in 1815.
Habitat, range, and status
The giant pangolin inhabits many countries, with the largest concentration in Uganda, Tanzania, and western Kenya. It is found mainly in the savanna, rainforest, and forest, inhabiting areas with large termite populations and available water. It does not inhabit high-altitude areas.
Due to habitat destruction and deforestation, the species is in great decline, and this, together with hunting of it as bushmeat and for the supposed medicinal properties of its scales, has led to concerns about population levels. Because the species is nocturnal, few studies have been carried out. Currently, this pangolin is classified as a "least concern" by the IUCN.
The giant pangolin is the largest of all pangolin species. While its average mass has not been measured, one specimen was found to weigh 33 kg (72.6 lb). Males are larger than females, with male body lengths about 140 cm (4.6 ft) and females about 125 cm (4.1 ft). Like all pangolins, the species is armored with large, brown to reddish-brown scales formed from keratin. Curiously, it also has eyelashes. The giant pangolin has a long snout, a long, thick tail, and large front claws.
The animal has a strong sense of smell and large anal glands. Its secretions may be significant to animal communication. The species walks with most of its weight is on its columnar rear legs, and curls its front paws, walking on the outside of the wrists rather than the palms to protect the claws. By using its tail for balance, it will often walk upright as a biped.
The giant pangolin, like other pangolins, is nocturnal, which makes observation difficult. It is also usually solitary, although in one case an adult was seen in a burrow with a juvenile. The species is capable of climbing trees and other objects.
Like all pangolins, the giant pangolin is a specialized insectivore that lacks teeth and the ability to chew. Its diet mainly consists of ants and termites, which it finds by tearing open anthills and termite nests, both subterranean and mound-type.
Because of its relatively large size, the giant pangolin is particularly well-suited to breaking open termite mounds by leaning on the mound and resting its weight on its tail, and then ripping into the mound with its front claws. The combination of weight and physical damage quickly leads to a partial collapse of the mound, exposing the termites. Only the adults are strong enough to do this; their young must follow behind their mothers until they grow large enough to do it for themselves. It eats the insects by picking them up with its sticky tongue, which is up to 16 in long.
Very little information about the reproduction of the giant pangolin is known. Two birth records exist, with one litter in September and another in October, with the young weighing around 500 g. As in all pangolins, infants have soft scales that eventually harden, and are born with open eyes. They cannot walk on their legs, but can move on their bellies. During age 6-8 weeks the young will often spew a yellow secretion from their anal glands(that is often said to smell of decay and cabbage) that is used to keep predators and other animals from taking advantage of their mothers.
|This article needs additional citations for verification. (October 2013)|
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- Hoffmann, M. (2008). "Smutsia gigantea". In: IUCN 2013. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. www.iucnredlist.org. Downloaded on 03 April 2014.