Incredible rediscovery of endangered giant pangolin in Senegal

After 24 years, a giant pangolin was spotted in Senegal during a land survey. It was thought to be extinct in the area as the species is globally endangered. The observation is surprising, but underlines the importance of knowing the pangolin's habitat in detail and making a detailed estimate of its populations

Exciting news has emerged from Senegal, where a critically endangered species has been rediscovered after nearly a quarter-century. For the first time in 24 years, a giant pangolin has been sighted in the country.

Rediscovery in Niokolo-Koba National Park

The sighting comes from Niokolo-Koba National Park, a reserve located in eastern Senegal. During an extensive scientific study conducted from February to May 2023, experts captured images of 45 mammals using camera traps.

Interested area

@African Journal of Ecology

Among them was the giant pangolin, spotted on the night of March 8, 2023. The findings have been published in the African Journal of Ecology. The last known sighting of Manis gigantea, its scientific name, was in 1999 within this same territory, after which it had not been seen.


@African Journal of Ecology

Misconceptions dispelled

Previously, scientists suspected that the giant pangolin had gone extinct in this region. However, images from the camera traps have proven otherwise. The giant pangolin still exists within the park boundaries.

The pangolin is the only mammal covered in scales and is among the most trafficked animals on Earth due to the allure of its protective armor for its meat and scales.

Conservation challenges

The pangolin population, now numbering 9 species with this recent discovery, has seen a drastic decline in recent years. Over the past decade, it is estimated that more than a million pangolins have been illegally captured and killed despite global protections. This underscores the urgent need for comprehensive habitat studies and accurate data collection to safeguard the species.

The scientific article highlights the uncertainty surrounding the mammal’s distribution in West Africa. It is possible that the pangolin has become extinct in areas it once inhabited or, surprisingly, still thrives in its native lands.

“Such rediscoveries not only emphasize the importance of systematic biodiversity inventories but also the critical value of large protected areas in West Africa,” note the researchers in their publication.

While the future of the pangolin remains uncertain, concerted efforts by associations, the scientific community, and international cooperation offer hope to preserve this iconic animal.

Source: African Journal of Ecology

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