‘Sacred Scales’

The Temminck’s Ground Pangolin is one of eight Pangolin species found across Africa and Asia, with all eight being threatened with extinction. They are the world’s most trafficked mammal due to demand primarily in Asia, driven by beliefs that the scales can be used medicinally as well as the meat being eaten as a delicacy. An estimated 195 000 pangolins were trafficked in 2019 for their scales alone.

They are extremely secretive, solitary and mostly nocturnal, leaving their burrows in the evening to hunt for ants and termites. They will dig the insects out from their mounds using their powerful claws and collect hundreds at a time with a long, sticky tongue (up to 41cm).

“I was over the moon when a colleague called in a rare sighting of a pangolin. It’s a moment I had dreamed of for years and the adrenalin was flowing like never before! I arrived at the sighting with guests to find the pangolin curled up in a ball, showing nothing but its beautiful scales. A pangolin will do this when feeling nervous or threatened to protect its body. With this in mind, we had a quick look to appreciate the rare occasion before leaving it in peace. This photograph is one of just a handful of close ups of the uniquely patterned scales I managed to capture. To put it into perspective, this is the first and only encounter I’ve had with a pangolin over four years of guiding in the bush. I don’t know if I’ll ever have the privilege of meeting one again.”


Byron Grobler


A South African wildlife photographer, showcasing Africa’s wild beings. After four years of guiding guests from all over the world in some of the wildest areas of South Africa, Byron is now fully focused on his true passion for wildlife photography and the conservation of the wild spaces they inhabit.



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Timbavati, Greater Kruger, South Africa





Date Created


Camera Body

Canon 7d II


Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 IS III USM








Extended Editorial

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