- Perfect Defence
A Lion Can Not Eat A Pangolin
When you're a hungry lion, most animals probably seem like a good bet at snack time.
But this lion certainly bit off more than it could chew when it pounced on a pangolin.
British wildlife guide Mark Sheridan-Johnson captured on film this inquisitive big cat which spent a long time trying to devour the odd looking creature in the Selous Game Reserve in Tanzania. The rare, armour plated pangolin had the perfect defence tactic:roll up into a ball and stay there - whatever happens.
This looks like a tasty morsel...hmm, it's a bit crunchy...the lion begins its attempt to feast on the pangolin
Maybe if I use my claws I can get the shell off...wow this thing is tough...nope, maybe it's time to try a different tactic
The images show how the hapless lion appeared confused by its spherical prey, as it batted the creature about with its paws and even tried to carry it around in its mouth.
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 a lion, we could not believe our eyes.
'The pangolin was obviously having a really bad day.'
Hello, is there anyone in there? 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
Oh I give up! That's never happened to me before...I'm off to find something soft to eat
Pangolins are nocturnal animals and according to Mark, this one was peacefully sheltering in bushes before being smelt out by the two-year-old lion.
'We were all on the side of the pangolin, hoping he would make it out alive,' he said.
'The lion really didn't know what to do with it. She was 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.
A pangolin is a very rare mammal of tropical Africa
Pangolins are shy and mainly solitary
They are well-armoured with large, hardened, equally-spaced overlapping scales, making them look like a pine cone
Pangolin know how to protect themselves very well when threatened, by rolling into a ball and erecting their scales pointing upward
The creatures eat ants and termites
Pangolin are thought to be magical - people believe the sight of one will bring them seven years of prosperity
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.
Pangolins 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 lion 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.
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