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Sunday, December 5, 2010

The armour-plated animal that was too much of a mouthful for one hungry lion


Mmm, a tasty snack? It's a bit...crunchy...ouch! Anyone else want to try a mouthful?

Finding yourself in the middle of a pack of hungry lions is never ideal but this odd looking creature appears to have the perfect defence tactic.

Passing the rare and unusual pangolin around like a football, these inquisitive lions spent hours trying to devour the armoured plated creature.

British wildlife guide Mark Sheridan-Johnson captured the interaction during a tour in the Selous Game Reserve in Tanzania.

Maybe if I use my claws I can get the shell off...wow this thing is tough...nope, your turn sis

The images show how the hapless lions appeared confused by their spherical prey, as they batted it about with their paws and even tried to carry it around in their mouths.

Mr Sheridan-Johnson, 31, from Newcastle, was showing a group of tourists around the game reserve when he spotted the little pangolin battling for its life.

'The Pangolin is an extremely difficult animal to see and is considered by many guides in Africa to be the holy grail of sightings,' he said.

'You can spend your whole life driving round the bush and never see one.
'So when we came across one being attacked by two lions, we could not believe our eyes.

'The pangolin was obviously having a really bad day.'

Yikes, what is this thing anyway? Is there any meat in here or is it some sort of wierd plant...I give up

OK, this is your last chance..come out with your hands up or, or...I'll just have to leave you alone and find something else to gnaw on

Pangolins are nocturnal animals and according to Mark, was peacefully sheltering in bushes before being smelt out by the two-year-old lions.

'We were all on the side of the Pangolin, hoping he would make it out alive,' he said.

'The lions really didn't know what to do with it. They were getting more and more frustrated by the situation.

'The scales are so sharp that carrying the pangolin around can't have been very pleasant '

The pangolin's shell is made of an organic bony structure called keratin and makes up to around twenty percent of the animal's body weight.

When caught by large predators such as lions they work their muscles into a cutting action to lacerate the mouths of their adversaries.

The injuries caused can be serious for the animal attempting to eat the pangolin.
They survive by using their sensitive tongues, which can grow up to 16 inches long to probe ant nests and termite mounds to eat the insects inside.

'In the end the lions gave up and wandered off in search of something else and the pangolin escaped,' said Mark.

'He stayed in his ball for a long time until it got dark, just to make sure he was safe.'

The Selous Game Reserve is Africa's largest protected wildlife reserve and it covers five percent of Tanzania's total land mass.

It is located in the remote south east of the country and is made up of gushing rivers, rolling hills and sprawling plains.

The reserve is named in honour of British explorer Frederick Courtney Selous, who wrote a book about his travels in the region and was killed there during the First World War.

source: dailymail


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