After a two-week chase through Lopé-Okanda national park, a mosaic of rainforest and savannah in central Gabon, David Lehmann and his Wildlife Capture Unit were celebrating – they had caught a giant pangolin nicknamed Ghost, the biggest on record. The team – consisting of eco-guards, an indigenous tracker, a field biologist and a wildlife vet – hope that Ghost, who weighs 38kg and measures 1.72m from nose to tail, will give valuable insights in their fight against poaching. A nocturnal lifestyle and the fact that it feels most at home in a complex system of deep inaccessible burrows makes the giant ground pangolin – Smutsia gigantea – one of the least researched species in the animal kingdom. “We know little about their basic ecology, their movements and population sizes, and our lack of knowledge hinders our efforts to protect them,” says Lehmann, a wildlife ecologist. His research is part of the EU’s Ecofac6 programme , a commitment that started in the 1990s to safeguard biodiversity in the Congo basin. “What we are doing here is pioneering work,” he says. A camera-trap in Lopé-Okanda national park captures a giant pangolin at night. Photograph: ANPN The only scaly mammal in the […]


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