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  • Writer's pictureJulian Brookstein

A day to remember

Updated: Jul 3, 2019

Rare sighting of an critically endangered pangolin in the wild

Every now and then you have a day to remember, I had one recently. On a full day safari from camp, we were heading to Detema dam. On  the way, we rounded a bend to see an Elephant bull walking down the road towards us. I stopped the vehicle and turned off to watch him approach us.

I soon noticed he had a particular look to his walk and an over exaggerated flick of his ears. Closer inspection through the binos confirmed my suspicion - he was in musth. I pulled off to the side of the road, as he was not altering his path. I told my guests to keep quiet and still as he continued towards us. He walked next to the vehicle, then stopped and turned to face us metres away, as we all sat quietly. He was not aggressive but I guess is the best way to put it was that he was sure of himself and his size . This lasted for a few minutes before I felt a tap on my shoulder and one of my guests asked me “What is that?" pointing down the road.

I turned and saw a Pangolin halfway across the road. What is said next I cannot write! I started the vehicle and raced down the road to where it was. Before the vehicle had come to a complete halt, I had already jumped out and was on my knees staring at this animal that I have honestly waited my entire guiding career to see. To me and many other professional guides this is the holy grail of guiding.

We then spent the next forty minutes just watching this amazing animal. We backed off hoping to see it walk again which it did but it went straight between two nearby logs. We did have a good view of its' head, albeit by lying on our stomachs and peering under one of the logs. At first my guests were asking me what it was and did not understand why I had raced to it - leaving the Ele bull behind in the dust. I think by the end of the forty minutes, it had fully dawned on them due to my excitement that this was a once in a lifetime sighting - although I can only hope not once!

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