Thai National Parks

Species of Thailand

Sunda pangolin

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.


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.


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.


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

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)


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Manis javanica (sub adult) - Palian District, Trang
Manis javanica
Manis javanica

Range Map

Distribution map of Sunda pangolin, Manis javanica in Thailand
  • Chiang Dao District, Chiang Mai
  • Doi Suthep - Pui National Park
  • Hala-Bala Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Kaeng Khoi District, Saraburi
  • Kaeng Krachan National Park
  • Kaeng Krung National Park
  • Kathu District, Phuket
  • Khanom District, Nakhon Si Thammarat
  • Khao Lak - Lam Ru National Park
  • Khao Sok National Park
  • Khao Yai National Park
  • Khlong Saeng Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Khura Buri District, Phang Nga
  • Ko Lanta District, Krabi
  • Ko Samui District, Surat Thani
  • Kui Buri National Park
  • Pang Sida National Park
  • Phuket Province
  • Thong Pha Phum National Park
  • Ton Nga-Chang Wildlife Sanctuary
Range map of Manis javanica in Thailand