Pangolins are nocturnal animals, so seeing one in the wild is tricky enough at the best of times.
Extensive poaching has decimated their numbers. And guides who are aware of where to find pangolin in the wild are reluctant to share the information in fear that those creatures may get poached, as well.
Having said that, there are some places, mostly in protected reserves, where it is still possible to see one of these endearing creatures in their natural habitat. And in 2023, researchers and conservationists have teamed up to spearhead Operation Pangolin, a new project that will develop fresh pangolin-specific monitoring methods and safeguarding efforts to prevent the illegal trafficking of these beloved mammals.
Seeing a pangolin remains one of planet Earth's real wildlife treats. Just ask British TV naturalist Chris Packham. He spent his entire life looking for a pangolin and when he finally encountered one in South Africa, it left him in a 'state of bewildered ecstasy'.
Africa represents your best chance of seeing a pangolin in the wild. The illegal trade is so intense in Asia, that only ones you’ll spot are in captivity. In Africa, however, a number of game reserves and lodges are actively working to protect pangolin.
Mateya Safari Lodge in Madikwe Game Reserve in South Africa is a good bet. So is the Samara Private Game Reserve in Karoo.
Tswalu Game Reserve in the Kalahari offer pangolin photography safaris, to help you capture your wild pangolin encounter perfectly.
In Kenya, pangolins are often spotted in Sala’s Camp in the Masai Mara. Namiri Plains in the Serengeti is the best place to spot them in Tanzania. And in Botswana, head to the Shinde Camp.