Thai National Parks

Mammals of Thailand

Species of Thailand

Sunda pangolin

Binomial name: Manis javanica, Anselme Gaëtan Desmarest, 1822

The Sunda pangolin (Manis javanica), also known as the Malayan or Javan pangolin, is a species of pangolin found in Southeast Asia, including Thailand, Indonesia (Java, Sumatra, Borneo, and the Lesser Sunda Islands), Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Malaysia, and Singapore. They prefer forested habitats (primarily, secondary, scrub forest) and plantations (rubber, palm oil). A large part of their life is spent in trees.

Taxonomy

In the past, this species has included the closely related Palawan pangolin (M. culionensis), as both are in the subgenus Paramanis. It is closely related to the Chinese pangolin, although the Malayan species is larger, lighter in colour, and has shorter fore claws.

Description

The skin of the Sunda pangolin's feet is granular, although pads are found on its front feet. It has thick and powerful claws to dig into the soils in search of ant nests or to tear into termite mounds. The sunda pangolin has poor eyesight but a highly developed sense of smell. Lacking teeth, its long, sticky tongue serves to collect ants and termites. Its body is covered by rows of scales and fibrous hair. The head-body length of this pangolin can measure up to 65 cm, tail length is up to 56 cm, and its weight is up to 10 kg. Males are larger than females.

Behaviour and ecology

Pangolins give birth annually to one or two offspring. They breed in the autumn, and females give birth in the winter burrow. Parental care will be given for about three months. Pangolins are sometimes found in pairs, but normally they are solitary, noctural, and behave timidly. They protect their soft underparts by rolling into balls when they feel threatened. They are strong diggers and will make burrows lined with vegetation for insulation near termite mounds and ant nests.

The Sunda pangolin's main predators are tigers and the clouded leopard.

Conservation

Pangolins as a genus are among the most heavily poached and exploited protected animals. Like other pangolin species, the Sunda pangolin is hunted for its skin, scales, and meat, used in clothing manufacture and traditional medicine. Scales are made into rings as charms against rheumatic fever, and meat is eaten by indigenous peoples. Despite enjoying protected status almost everywhere in its range, illegal international trade, largely driven by Chinese buyers, has led to rapidly decreasing population numbers. The Sunda pangolin is currently considered to be critically endangered.

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Scientific classification

Kingdom
Animalia
Phylum
Chordata
Class
Mammalia
Order
Pholidota
Family
Manidae
Genus
Manis
Species
Manis javanica

Common names

  • English:
    • Malayan pangolin
    • Sunda pangolin
  • Spanish: Pangolín Malayo
  • French:
    • Pangolin Javanais
    • Pangolin Malais

Conservation status

Critically Endangered (IUCN3.1)

Critically Endangered (IUCN3.1)

Range Map

Range map of Manis javanica in Thailand