Scales from the Hills!

Posted on September 18, 2011

“So what are you really hoping to see this year?” I ask our regular Aussie guests Sepp and Megan who have explored Africa on safari for over 15 years!

“A Pangolin please” is the prompt response from Megan followed by a confident chuckle…One way to completely stump your enthusiastic ranger is to request a funny looking little armour plated nocturnal creature that he has only ever himself seen pictures of !!!

Talk about Aussie luck, simply ask and you shall receive! On our third night?s safari a Pangolin comes to the party and is stumbled upon right by the lodge (Less than 800m away).

Now most guests have never heard of a Pangolin and in my excitement it sounded to the Kory’s & Crowe’s (our other lucky regular guests) like I said penguin!!! A real laugh was had by all when we arrived at this strange looking penguin!!

Not just any individual but a relaxed creature that we spent over an hour observing and photographing! Keen lodge staff were bundled onto the Land Rovers and we all enjoyed this unique experience, moments like these are the rewards that Africa delivers to those dedicated individuals who are so blessed to live out here.

Truly a once in a lifetime sighting, hope you enjoy the images and a little interesting info on a truly fascinating animal that we will be extremely privileged to view again, if ever.

These shy secretive nocturnal mammals, often called “scaly anteaters,” are covered in tough, overlapping scales. These scales are made from the same proteins (Keratin) that form human hair and finger nails.

Pangolins have poor vision so they locate termite and ant nests with their strong sense of smell. A pangolin’s sticky tongue is attached near its pelvis and last pair of ribs and when fully extended is longer than the animal’s head and body. It uses this remarkable appendage to voraciously capture ants and termites from mounds, stumps and fallen logs after digging with their long claws. Pangolins have special muscles that seal their nostrils and ears shut, protecting them from attacking insects.

A mother will protectively roll around her baby when sleeping or if threatened. When the infant begins to accompany the mother outside of the burrow it catches a ride on the base of her tail as she forages.

Painted dog update
6 month pups

For those interested in the progress of the painted dog pups that were born here at Leopard Hills earlier this year please enjoy the image above. They are now 6 months old and emerging adults, 4 out of the 8 have made it this far which is a fantastic success rate for wild dogs and we now have a healthy and hopefully stable pack of 10!

The nomadic pack roams far and wide, even as far as the Kruger National Park over 40km away so it’s great to have them back here for a while!

9 thoughts on “Scales from the Hills!

  1. Hi Dave,

    Congratulations, THAT is a wonderful and informative post. We truly envy those guests in that very unusual sighting.

    Of course, you realise, everyone will want one now !

    Seriously, Big Thank you to you and the Team for sharing,

  2. Have been asking for pangolin sightings on many safaris, but none so far for me 🙁 Glad to see you had such a great one.

  3. "Penguin" sightings for everyone now! Ya just never know what a day…or night…might bring at leopard hills! Great story and do always appreciate the educational information. As ever, THANX!!!

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