Some Things Are Worth the Wait

By Wandering Maasai | 20 February 2015

Third generation Kenyan, Gordie Owles, shares with us his experience of getting to see the rare Pangolin in real life.

Gordie Owles & Namiri Plains camp manager Epimark Mwakalinga with their spot of the day

It must have been around 1980 when, along with my father we spotted a pangolin about 200 meters away in the fading light. Our ancient land rover creaked its way over the very rough terrain to the target. On arrival we found it to be a pile of loose rocks shaped just like the mysterious animal we sought. Since that day more than two decades ago I have spent hours hunting the east African plains for this ‘missing link’.

[gdlr_quote align=”center” ]With demand in Asia, for medicine, and parts of Africa, for food, have brought these strange animals to the very edge and worth every year they have become harder and harder to see.”[/gdlr_quote]In the years since my first failed encounter the threat to these mammals has risen considerably. With demand in Asia, for medicine, and parts of Africa, for food, have brought these strange animals to the very edge and worth every year they have become harder and harder to see.

The first encounter
Just two weeks ago the crackling radio revealed that one had been spotted on the edge of Namiri Plains camp and both myself and manager Epimark Mwakalinga dropped what we were doing and threw ourselves in the first vehicle and shot over to where it was. Now the reader might think that the lump of scales would be a disappointment but to Epimark (who has been seeking one as long as me) and I along with the small group of guests but there is something both magical and mysterious about our new little friend. The heavily armored back is both beautiful yet hazardous, with each scale being razor sharp as a clear reminder he is not to be touched.

A pangolin spotted near Namiri Plains. Photo credit: guide Blessed Phathisa Mpofu

Thirty minutes later we headed back to camp with the sun setting behind us. Out to our right, not even 400 meters away, a lone cheetah was wondering just what was more interesting than him. Perhaps that is the price of living around Namiri Plains where cats are plentiful and the unusual is most usual.

5 facts about Pangolins
By Guide and Trainer Pietro Luraschi:

  • There are 8 species in the world: 4 in Asia and 4 in Africa. All of them facing the risk of extinction due to the false believe that their scales could heal a variety of diseases.
  • They feed mainly on ants and termites, using a long sticky tongue to capture their preys, around 70 millions of them are eaten every year by a single individual.
  • They have special muscles to close their ears and nostrils when attacked by the same insects they are trying to eat.
  • They give birth to one offspring that will be often transported on the back or tail of the mother.
  • Their scales are made of keratin, hard and sharp, can cut deeply in the flesh of a predator.

Find out more about Namiri Plains on our website or if you would like to make an enquiry then please follow this link.

About Gordie
Gordiehas hitch hiked the length of Africa twice and travelled in over 20 African countries. Heand his Marketing team continue to explore regions far beyond the guidebooks. Over the years he hasbecome a leading specialist in presenting responsible travel and genuine experiences in theregionto overseas markets.


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