Smutsia gigantea


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Smutsia gigantea
Species Authority: (Illiger, 1815)
Common Name(s):
English Giant Ground Pangolin, Giant Pangolin
French Grand Pangolin, Pangolin Géant
Spanish Pangolín Gigante
Manis gigantea Illiger, 1815
Taxonomic Notes: Included in Manis by several authors (with Smutsia sometimes considered a subgenus), and referred to Phataginus by Grubb et al. (1998), but here included in the genus Smutsia, along with the Ground Pangolin, S. temminckii, following Heath and Kingdon (in press).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Near Threatened ver 3.1
Year Published: 2008
Date Assessed: 2008-06-30
Assessor(s): Hoffmann, M.
Reviewer(s): Hoffmann, M. & Stuart, S.N. (Global Mammal Assessment Team)
Listed as Near Threatened because it seems reasonable to assume that this species has undergone a decline in the region of 20-25% over the past 15 years (three generations) due mainly to the impact of bushmeat hunting. However, while it is decreasing in many parts of its range, several important populations are stable, such as those in Ituri Forest and the Salonga National Park in DR Congo. Almost qualifies as threatened under criterion A2cd.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Discontinuously distributed in humid forests in West and Central Africa. Recorded from Senegal (though there is no evidence of its presence in Gambia) eastwards through Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Côte d’Ivoire, and Ghana; there is no information from Guinea Bissau or Togo (Kingdon and Hoyt in press). Sayer and Green (1984) recorded the species from Batia on the border of the Pendjari N.P. in the north of Benin, and referred to sightings in neighbouring Burkino Faso and Niger (although the species is not included in Lamarque 2004). The presence of this species in Nigeria is unclear, but it may occur in the south. Occurs on the island of Bioko (Kingdon and Hoyt in press).

From the eastern bank of the Sanaga River in Cameroon the species is fairly continuously distributed throughout the Congo Basin to Uganda (Kingdon and Hoyt in press). In Kenya, it has been observed on the lakeshore in west Kenya, close to the Uganda border (see Kingdon 1971). The latter author also published an authenticated record from the Mahale Mts, where their presence has been confirmed recently by camera-traps (C.A.H. Foley pers. comm.). There are no records from Sudan or Burundi (Kingdon and Hoyt in press), and they are believed extinct in Rwanda (Brautigam et al. 1994).
Cameroon; Central African Republic; Congo; Congo, The Democratic Republic of the; Côte d'Ivoire; Equatorial Guinea; Gabon; Ghana; Guinea; Guinea-Bissau; Kenya; Liberia; Senegal; Sierra Leone; Tanzania, United Republic of; Uganda
Regionally extinct:
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: This is mostly a solitary, nocturnal species which is difficult to census, and there is no reliable information on population abundance or densities.
Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Occurs in lowland tropical moist and swamp forest, and in forest-savanna-cultivation mosaic habitats. It is also found in some areas in the uplands of Itombwe, where soils are suitable for its digging. It feeds on ants, termites and other insects. A terrestrial species, animals spend the daytime resting under piles of plant debris, in thicket, under fallen tree roots, in partially opened termitaries, or in burrows (Kingdon and Hoyt in press). The females give birth to a single young.
Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): As with other pangolins, this species is subject to widespread exploitation for bushmeat and traditional medicine (Bräutigam et al. 1994). Fa et al. (1995) noted that survey records of Giant Pangolin meat in the markets of Bioko were misleading as only 10% made it to market. The species is occasionally recorded in international trade: between 1996 and 2005, CITES trade reports documented a single animal exported from Cameroon in 1999 and another from Gabon in 2004 (Kingdon and Hoyt in press).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: It is present in a number of protected areas (e.g. Ituri Forest Reserve and the Salonga National Park, in Democratic Republic of Congo, National Park of Upper Niger in Guinea, and Tai National Park in Côte d'Ivoire) (Kingdon and Hoyt in press). While it is listed on Appendix II of CITES, there is a need to develop and enforce protective legislation in many range states.

Bibliography [top]

Bräutigam, A., Howes, J., Humphreys, T. and Hutton, J. 1994. Recent information on the status and utilization of African pangolins. TRAFFIC Bulletin 15: 15-22.

Fa, J. E., Juste, J., Perez del Val, J. and Castroviejo, J. 1995. Impact of market hunting on mammal species in Equatorial Guinea. Conservation Biology 9: 1107-1115.

Grubb, P., Jones, T. S., Davies, A. G., Edberg, E., Starin, E. D. and Hill, J. E. 1998. Mammals of Ghana, Sierra Leone and The Gambia. Trendrine Press, Zennor, St Ives, Cornwall, UK.

Heath, M. and Kingdon, J. 2013. Genus Smutsia. In: J. S. Kingdon and M. Hoffmann (eds), The Mammals of Africa, Academic Press, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Kingdon. J., Hoffmann, M. and Hoyt, R. 2013. Smutsia gigantea Giant Ground Pangolin. In: J. S. Kingdon and M. Hoffmann (eds), The Mammals of Africa. Volume 5: Carnivores, Pangolins, Equids, Rhinoceroses, Bloomsbury Publishing, London.

Kingdon, J. S. 1971. East African Mammals. An Atlas of Evolution in Africa. Academic Press, London, UK.

Lamarque, F. 2004. Les Grands Mammifères du Complexes WAP. CIRAD/ UNION EUROPEENNE/PARC REGIONAL ECOPAS/UICN, Paris, France.

Sayer, J. A. and Green, A. A. 1984. The distribution and status of large mammals in Benin. 14(1): 37.

Citation: Hoffmann, M. 2008. Smutsia gigantea. In: The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.1. <>. Downloaded on 23 July 2014.
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