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Pangolin
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Pangolin

Where to see Pangolin in Kenya

Pangolins are among Africa’s most extraordinary safari sightings, appearing more pine cone than animal in their unique armoury of scales. These nocturnal, ant-eating oddities are highly elusive and, today, increasingly rare.


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Quick facts about Pangolin

Scientific name: Smutsia temminkii Habitat: Savannah woodland
IUCN status: Vulnerable Adult weight: 5–27kg

Pangolins are the only mammals with scales. These overlapping plates of keratin encase the animal’s upperparts to form a protective armour – impregnable when it rolls into a defensive ball. This species is one of four in Africa and the only one found in the east and south.

It feeds on ants and termites, holing up in a burrow by day and foraging by night. Long claws dig out its prey, which it laps up with a long, sticky tongue and – being toothless – crushes in its muscular stomach.

A pangolin walks largely on its hind-legs, extending its long tail as a counter-balance. The newborn baby rides on the base of its mother tail for its first few weeks.


15cm

Length of newborn baby

40cm

Length of tongue

20%

Scales as proportion of body weight

8

Pangolin species worldwide

The top camps for seeing pangolin in Kenya

Based on 3 reports by our travellers since Nov 2019, visitors at these camps in Kenya have the best chances of sighting pangolin.


Best chances to see

Good chances to see

Some sightings

No sightings yet

Top 10 camps for pangolin

% of travellers who saw pangolin

Top 10 camps for pangolin

% of travellers who saw pangolin

Where to see pangolins in Africa

Pangolins are widespread but scarce. Sightings are highly unpredictable and remain a safari holy grail, even for experienced guides. Today, one or two locations in South Africa offer visitors slightly higher chances.


Top tips for viewing pangolins

To see a pangolin, you must head out on a night drive with fingers tightly crossed. Many reserves record occasional sightings, including the Okavango and Central Kalahari (Botswana), Luangwa Valley (Zambia), Hwange (Zimbabwe), Serengeti (Tanzania) and Kruger (South Africa), but, realistically, your chances are slim.

The odds are higher in a handful of reserves in South Africa’s Northern Cape and Karoo, notably Tswalu Kalahari and Samara, where pangolins are more active by day during winter. When approached, a pangolin may roll into a ball rather than retreat. Look, but don’t touch: its scything scales can inflict serious injuries on fingers.

Today all pangolins are of high conservation concern, the lucrative eastern market for their scales making them the world’s most illegally trafficked mammals.

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Our best Kenya holidays for pangolin sightings

Based on our travellers' reports, these ideas for Kenya safaris are likely to give the best pangolin sightings


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Striped Hyena Safari

5 days • 3 locations
NAIROBI AIRPORT TO NAIROBI AIRPORT

Expert Africa's Striped Hyena safari is an example of a possible safari itinerary for keen walkers, enabling you to experience the sounds and sights of the bush, and its wildlife, in a more direct way.

US$3,980 - US$4,810 per person

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Black Kite Fly-in Safari

10 days • 4 locations
NAIROBI AIRPORT TO NAIROBI AIRPORT

Explore Kenya in-depth with visits to Nairobi and Meru National Parks, the Mara Conservancies and Amboseli. Nestled in remoter regions, four camps provide fantastic access to rich game, a range of activities and beautifully diverse landscapes.

US$8,380 - US$9,630 per person

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Purple Grenadier Fly-In Safari

6 days • 2 locations
NAIROBI AIRPORT TO NAIROBI AIRPORT

Fantastic guiding from intimate, well-run mid-range tented camps, in superb conservancy locations: this safari is all about making the most of the incredible wildlife in Laikipia and the Maasai Mara.

US$5,680 - US$6,750 per person

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The Highlights of Africa

17 days • 7 locations
CAPE TOWN AIRPORT TO KIGALI AIRPORT

An epic adventure taking in some of Africa’s most incredible sights and wildlife experiences, from Cape Town to the Okavango Delta, Victoria Falls, the Maasai Mara and an encounter with mountain gorillas.

US$12,440 - US$15,040 per person

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Gabar Goshawk Fly-in Safari

10 days • 4 locations
NAIROBI AIRPORT TO NAIROBI AIRPORT

Experience Amboseli, the Maasai Mara ecosystem and Laikipia during this economically priced safari. Two simple camps offer adventure before a stopover in Nairobi and a final stay in the charming, wildlife-rich Il Ngwesi Eco-Lodge.

US$4,790 - US$4,790 per person

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De Brazza Monkey Fly-in Safari

9 days • 3 locations
NAIROBI AIRPORT TO NAIROBI AIRPORT

Enjoy a range of activities in the remote wilderness of northern Kenya before exploring the wildlife-rich plains of the Mara ecosystem. Private vehicles and guides heighten the personalisation of this highly immersive safari.

US$9,700 - US$11,350 per person

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Martial Eagle Fly-in Safari

9 days • 3 locations
NAIROBI AIRPORT TO KILIMANJARO AIRPORT

This stylish fly-in safari visits two of Africa’s most iconic parks, the Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya and the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania.

US$10,500 - US$14,310 per person

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Gorillas and Maasai Mara Safari

9 days • 3 locations
KIGALI AIRPORT TO NAIROBI AIRPORT

This trip combines two of Africa's most unforgettable wildlife experiences – Rwanda's mountain gorillas and Kenya's Maasai Mara.

US$9,750 - US$11,620 per person

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Lanner Falcon Fly-In Safari

8 days • 3 locations
NAIROBI AIRPORT TO NAIROBI AIRPORT

Three sister camps offer access to wonderfully remote regions across northern Kenya and the Maasai Mara ecosystem. Enjoy an exclusive safari experience with a range of activities that include great wildlife, superb guiding and considerable comfort.

US$6,170 - US$8,220 per person

View all holidays to Kenya

More information about pangolin in our other destinations

Click here for detailed information about pangolin in other countries, including the places for sighting pangolin.


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