This lucky ground pangolin (Smutsia temminckii) curls up to rest on a termite mound in Gorongosa National Park shortly after being released back into the wild. Pangolins are the only mammals that have large scales made of keratin, which are actually just modified hairs. These animals are coveted in Asia for their meat and scales, which are wrongly thought to have medicinal properties. As a result, they are one of the most trafficked animals in the world. Earlier this year all eight pangolin species were protected under the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).
Celebrate Biodiversity on Endangered Species Day, May 19th, 2017.
Jen Guyton. Dept. Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Princeton University, NJ and Gorongosa National Park, Mozambique.