Pangolin hiss keeps lions at bay

tough target: An Asiatic lioness and her cub prepare to attack a pangolin, which is known as the old world scaly ant eater, at the Gir Wild Life Sanctuary in Junagadh district, Gujarat, on Saturday. PTI

Sandeep Kumar, Deputy Conservator of Forests at the Sanctuary in Sasan Gir in Junagadh district, about 300 km from Vadodara, witnessed the scene, when he was patrolling the area.

Speaking over the phone on Sunday, Kumar said: “Five sub-adult lions were trying to predate upon an Indian pangolin on Saturday. In its defence, the pangolin curled itself into an armoured ball, exhibiting enormous muscular power, which defies any ordinary attempt to unroll it. To me, it was for the first time that I encountered such an amazing event of natural history, where  a  completely different prey was being attacked by the lions.”

During the encounter, the lions repeatedly tried to unroll the pangolin, which did not give up till the end. The only sound produced by the pangolin was a loud hiss, which is usually produced when it is under stress, Kumar said. The lions eventually gave up.

The pangolins, he said, are known as the “old world scaly ant-eaters that compose the Order Pholidata which has only one genus (Manis). The most distinctive character of the Pangolin is its armour of protecting scales.”

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