Baby pangolin gets a piggyback

by ZSL on

Our team, working with the Thai government, recently captured some gorgeous camera trap photos of a Sunda pangolin carrying her baby on her tail.

Taken in Khlong Nakha Wildlife Sanctuary (KNWS), this area is one of ZSL’s project sites for the study and protection of Sunda pangolins.

Sunda pangolin and baby

We recorded the first evidence of pangolins in KNWS on a camera trap video in October 2015. These latest pictures show a pangolin carrying her baby as all pangolins do - on her tail!

The camera trap was set in March 2016, at the peak of the dry season, in an area close to one of the few streams still flowing with water.

While walking in the forest looking for pangolin signs, the team noticed a hollow in one of the big trees in the area. Tree hollows are used by Sunda pangolins both as resting and nesting sites.

The size, depth and shape of the hollow convinced the team to position one of the camera traps right in front of it.  Definitely a good choice! After 30 days the camera traps were collected and, to the excitement of the team, the pictures showed a mother carrying her baby in and out the tree hollow.

Sunda pangolin and baby

Sunda pangolins usually only have one baby after a gestation period of three to four months. Young are nurtured in nesting tree hollows for three to four months, but can start eating termites and ants already at one month and this is the time when the young pangolin begins to accompany the mother outside of the tree hollow, riding on her tail, as she goes foraging for insects.

During the same camera trapping period, another camera trap recorded a second pangolin, again not far from a still-flowing stream. These two findings give our team and the rangers a lot of hope about the population status of Sunda pangolin in the area, as well as more information about pangolin ecology.

Many thanks to Fondation Segré and SOS (Save Our Species, an initiative managed by IUCN) for funding the work that made these photos possible.

By Barbara Pollini, ZSL Thailand

Sunda pangolin and baby

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