In local languages : depending on the species - Kokolo (Mbangombe) for the long-tailed pangolin, Kaka (Lingala), Kanjono (Mbangombe), Ekadi (Bendzele) for the white-bellied pangolin, or Piguie (Lingala), Kelepa (Mbangombe), Ekadi (Bendzele) for the giant pangolin.
The three species of pangolins present in Nouabalé-Ndoki, at first sight similar, vary greatly: the endangered giant pangolin (Smutsia gigantea
) can measure up to 1m, and only comes out of its burrow at night, while the long-tailed pangolin (Phataginus tetradactyla
) is only 40cm long, arboreal and diurnal. The tree pangolin (Phataginus tricuspis
), on the other hand, is distinguished by a pale and shorter face, is nocturnal, and can nest in trees as well as on ground.
They have in common that they feed on insects by breaking termite mounds and ant hills with their sharp claws. All three species are covered with scales, which constitute up to 20% of their total weight and allow them to protect themselves from their predators by rolling themselves into a ball. These scales are also one of the main reasons why they are the most trafficked mammals in the world: used in traditional medicine, these scales, although made of keratin, are sold at a high price on some Asian markets.