Sabi Sands Photographic Safari

The birth of a pangolin

© Scott Hurd

© Scott Hurd

This is Roxy, the most amazing mama pangolin in the whole world.

She was wild caught and taken around a local town in a box, to be sold on the black market. A shop owner felt sorry for her and bought her. He then called a local wildlife organization which in turn called the Rare & Endangered Species Trust (REST).

This rescued Cape Pangolin took a liking for Maria Diekmann (founder and director of REST) and the unexpected and inexplicable bond was such that Maria was allowed to join this most whacky and enigmatic creature in her ‘wandels’ and nocturnal foraging.

© Scott Hurd

© Scott Hurd

© Rare & Endangered Species Trust

© Dave Lowth

However as the REST team prepared Roxy for her release, Maria went in for a final check and Roxy crawled slowly towards her and sat in her lap. Maria saw what appeared to be a snake coiled up around her stomach however she quickly realised that Roxy had given birth and the baby was still attached by its umbilical cord. Maria slowly got her back into the corner she had been using as a den, and watched how she broke the cord and curled around the baby. She had just witnessed the first captive birth of a Cape Pangolin in history.

© Maria Diekman

© Dave Lowth

For the following two months Roxy raised her baby Pangolin in the most surprisingly unperturbed and relaxed manner, allowing Maria and other volunteers or visitors to take the odd peak and photo of her little miracle.

© Maria Diekman

© Maria Diekmann

© Maria Diekman

© Maria Diekmann

Then, unexpectedly, one night, Roxy vanished, her spoor untraceable, leaving behind her nameless baby to be reared by the REST team. The team believes that she may have come into heat and the call of the wild may have overcome her maternal instincts. It is thought that wild pangolins normally leave their young at about this time, so they believe what she did was natural.

© Christian Boix

© Christian Boix

© Rare & Endangered Species Trust

© Maria Diekmann

© Christian Boix

© Christian Boix

© Christian Boix

© Christian Boix

© Christian Boix

© Christian Boix

REST will keep caring for their new baby but they desperately need to find funding. This year they have already been contacted a number of times to collect and subsequently release five Cape Pangolins back into the wild. Never under any circumstance are Cape Pangolins purchased from their captors, to avoid stimulating trade, instead long and expensive cell phone negotiations ensue until a hand-over is agreed. All in all each and every rescued Cape Pangolin sets REST back a handsome N$10,000 on its already tight budget. But the reality is….if they don’t do it….who will. Find out more about sponsoring a pangolin.

Christian Boix

I left my native Spain, its great food, siestas and fiestas to become an ornithologist at the University of Cape Town and to start Tropical Birding, a company specialising in bird-watching tours worldwide. The past 11 years have seen me travel to over 60 countries in search of 5,000 plus bird species. Time passed, my daughter became convinced that I was some kind of pilot and my wife acquired a budgie for company – that’s when the penny dropped. Thrilled to join the Africa Geographic team, hardly contained in an office, I look forward to reporting on new and exciting travels, and continue to share the joy of birding and exploration.

  • Grace Milella

    How precious and amazing is this…unreal, absolutely !!!!

  • Kim Owen

    I did not know about pangolins. I am sitting for a dachshund. They resemble the pangolin I think! Best, Kim Owen, Richmond, VA, USA

  • Lynn Waddell

    These are just the most wonderful photos, what a tragedy of we lose pangolins due to China and Vietnam’s insatiable need for a ‘cure’ that doesnt work!!

  • Dora

    Wonderful story and amazing photos !

  • Alex Strachan

    uplifting story, beautiful pix

  • Jeannine Orzechowski

    The most incredible pangolin pics that I’ve ever seen. What an awesome blog post!

    • Christian Boix Hinzen

      Thanks Jeannine….they were indeed taken in the four most amazing days of my life…with the exception of my kids birth days!!

  • Candice Young

    absolutely love the photo’s! and such a heartwarming story too 🙂

  • Simon Espley

    Awesome story and images!

  • Zara Rourke

    Wow Fabulous Photos and story

  • Luciana Parazzi

    Amazing photos and wonderful photos. Thank you for sharing.

  • Lindah Bahati

    this is owsome

    • Christian Boix Hinzen

      Did you mean WOWsome ? such a great word!!

  • Henning Gawrisch
  • Cuteness overload!! What a sweet story.

  • Daisydot

    Thank you REST and Maria – every pangolin saved is one for wildlife. Such a rare and brilliant story. Thanks for sharing

    • Christian Boix Hinzen


  • Peter Borchert

    Great story.

    • Christian Boix Hinzen

      Thanks Peter….glad you liked it, sure means a lot to me!!

  • jbenders

    absolutely beautiful!

  • Candice Pretorius

    WOW! How amazing!! Such awesome creatures



  • Earth Touch

    Incredible …

  • Lena H. Fritsch

    How lovely 🙂 I bought one, too, when I was working at a mine in Mozambique and set it free (secretly and within the camp – 14.000 ha), so the workers couldn’t get him again. He unrolled, when released from his cage, looked at me just like saying “Thank you” and disapeared. That was a fantastic feeling 🙂

  • Ursula Gunti

    What a fantastic story! I0ve seen one Pangoline live in Botswana. I didn’t knoe they were mammals!!

  • Susan Hancock

    This is the first time I have ever seen a pangolin! They are amazing and incredible!!

  • Barbara Kennie Lunn

    Incredible pics & lovely story, love these creatures!!

  • Mrs. Atkinson

    wow most beautiful pics i ever seen keep it up

  • Michael Poliza

    amazing photos and a great story !

  • Juana

    What an absolutely beautiful story with heart warming pictures! Thank you. Check out: That might be an option to raise money.

    • Christian Boix Hinzen

      Thanks for the compliments and the fundraising tip Juana I will most certainly tell Maria to chase it up…

  • Gillian McLaren

    Thank you for these thrilling pictures and the touching text.

  • Jenetta Venish

    Pangolin? Never heard of or seen such a creature. Wow, it’s got scales like a pine-cone off a fir tree. I wonder if it’s hard? Quite a majestic animal. Thanks for broadening my mind in the animal world.

    • Christian Boix Hinzen

      I think tough, smooth and rough like a big ripe artichoke sum its up…they are indeed incredibly and utterly mesmerising!

      • Jenetta Venish

        Yes, I can see that description fitting very well. They truly are mesmerising.

  • Dawn Marks

    Just so utterly marvellous – these animals are so wonderful

  • No Tearz Buja Bird

    God is wonderful……

  • Vanessa Meyer

    What an incredible experience with a very special animal indeed. Glad he/she”fell” in to the right hands. Well done and good luck

    • Kirin Nielsen

      lovely, eh? And that pangolin was a “she”…

  • Kirin Nielsen

    She has skin like the inside shell of a coconut, a coat made of pinecones. and claws like a sloth. wow! I desperately wish that poachers and traders of exotic animals didn’t exist, and that those who do now will stop capturing, hurting, and possessing wild creatures.

  • whirlwindwoo

    Thank you for saving Roxy the Pangolin and her baby Maria, a lovely story and thank you what work you do for the endangered animals in the bush Rest.

  • Looking very nice..

  • andywassung

    Absolutely Amazing!!! Such beauty in rarity…unfortunate that people can’t appreciate a rare moment with one of nature’s most beautiful creations without capturing the animal rather than the moment.

  • Edgar

    hola Christian, me llamo Edgar y soy mexicano. Tengo un sitio sobre bienestar animal, ¿me darías autorización de reproducir tu artículo en español en el sitio? Es algo sin intereses comerciales y lo hago como un objetivo de hacer algo educativo.


    • Christian Boix Hinzen

      Hola Edgar, por cuestiones de traccion cibernética y de copyright no te puedo permitir que lo tradujas y lo cuelgues en tu web. Lo que si te puedo dejar hacer es introducirlo y que dirijas trafico hacia el desde tu espacio web. De esta forma ayudaras tanto al Pangolin, como a REST y a nosotros a diseminar este trabajo tan vital que hace REST.

  • Karyn

    Thank you for sharing. I throurougly enjoyed the story and images…..

  • Rob

    Never seen one in the wild. I am in 4ways Gauteng – nearest likely spot (at night I guess) ?

  • Christian Boix Hinzen

    I totally hear your feelings regarding poachers, smugglers, traditional medicine and other odd eastern practices that affect Pangolins. Tradition and lore are hard ingredients to slice through, but I want to believe that we must try our best to influence today’s growing generations of Asians. I find hard to believe that the majority that matters has been properly and /or adequately exposed to the magnitude of the drama that unfurls in our countries and which fuel the core of their traditions.

    I for one would hate to be told that what makes me uniquely Asian stems from a thoughtless, careless, cruel and unsustainable practice of dubious efficacy.

    I have to believe that proper education will pave the way of the Pangolins’ fate, that Asian future generations will share this belief.

    So here is my challenge of the day to all reading this post… share THE POST with at least one Asian friend, group, or organisation with whom you have ties with and in so doing make sure the information contained above bounces its way in a steadfast and gingerly manner through to Asia in record time. If we want to educate future generations about the tremendous impact that their cultural beliefs pose on our wildlife, TODAY and NOW is the best time to get cracking.

  • Rebecca Lewis Hinkle

    What a heartwarming story, thank you for sharing it. It is so good to see people doing such good work for nature.

  • Helena Atkinson

    Love your photo of the baby’s face, it is a strangely beautiful creature.

  • Derek Schuurman

    What a fantastic post Christian! Well done! It really is amazing; they are wonderful animals. Its a great shame that they are under such threat from China and Vietnam…..

  • Scott Hurd

    Agreed, Chriistian, being with these wonderful creatures was so special. They were so trusting . . . and such stars when the camera was pointed at them. It was a privilege.

  • Lucy Brown

    Most amazing thing I have seen in a long time. Is enough know about this species to raise a baby? Do they know when or if to release him/her to the wild?

  • Karen Meese Pyles

    Beautiful creature! Puts me in mind of an Armadillo. How sad that anybody would kill one (or many) for any reason at all.

  • G. Philip Hooker

    Wonderful story and coverage… I will do more reading about this little critter – very interesting.


    My email address begins with ‘pangolin’. I love the odd and rare creatures of the world. Bless you for continuing to strive on their behalf.

  • Ray Jansen

    Stunning pics Christian! Check out our web page at to see what we are up to – fighting for African pangolins!

  • Miriam M. Hughes

    What a nice story and amazing looking animal.

  • Melissa

    Beautiful story – thanks for the insight into a rare and remarkable creature.

  • Natasha Page-Wood

    oh wow you must be one of the luckiest on earth to have captured such rare, touching photos of a mother & baby pangolin! I’ve tried getting in touch on your facebook page about the possibility of republishing this post on another website but haven’t heard back from you yet? Hoping you’ll respond to this comment 🙂

  • Just Saying

    A touching story. But don’t you think that by ‘feeling sorry’ for the animal and agreeing to buy the creature simply perpetuates the crime? If these people were unable to receive payment for the animals they steal from the bush there would be no incentive for this trend to continue. It has to stop somewhere.

    • Harry

      I totally agree. It was the first thought I had after reading how some of these beautiful animals were obtained.

  • John McMahon

    What a wonderful story. We have some amazing creatures in Australia, but am fascinated with the pangolin and this story. Lovely. Thank you.
    John Mc. Australia.

  • Connie

    I never knew such an animal existed. You are brave and courageous people at REST. Thank you for your work and your ability to share it with us.

  • Vânia Majka

    Very beautiful and touching!!!

  • Liz Harris

    Thank you for sharing this amazing story and pictures with us!

  • Ian

    Unfortunately they have just intercepted a consignment of one metric ton of Pangolin scales in Hong Kong .. this was from South Africa and destined for the Medicine market .. So now we have quite a few less of these curious animals.

  • Alisha Gabriel

    How did Roxy break the cord, and how often did her offspring nurse? Thanks!

  • Dora

    What a wonderful story! The people of REST do amazing work!

  • jerome manatad

    amazing so lovely..

  • michael chait

    Fantastic, thanks so much.

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  • Kara Adams

    Heart warming read thanks for sharing! Crowdfunding is another effective way to easily raise funds for Roxy’s baby. Check out crowdfunding platforms like to learn more about how it works.

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