In Africa there is no other animal that even slightly resembles the pangolin, it has been said that it resembles an artichoke! Another name for the pangolin is scaly anteater. This name originates from the scales that are made of fused hair, similar to that of a rhino’s horn or human fingernail. These scales cover the neck, body, tail and sides of the legs. The pangolin has a long snoutand specially adapted tongue, the body is slim and flexible with a long tail. The front legs of a pangolin have long claws, which are used for digging up ant and termite mounds. The males can weigh up to 15.9 kgs.
If attacked, the pangolin rolls into a tight defensive ball, which often leads to them becoming entangled in – and killed by – electric fencing. The scales are used in traditional medicine and in the Shona culture they are an ultimate gift to a chief. This makes pangolins very susceptible to poaching.