Last month, guests and guides from Sala’s Camp, along with The Pangolin Project team, were treated to a magical sighting when they witnessed a tiny two-month-old baby pangolin hitching a ride on its mama’s back.

Pangopup takes a piggyback ©Mark Boyd

The mum in question was Pamoja, which means ‘together’ in Swahili, a Temminck’s Ground Pangolin that we’ve had the pleasure of studying for some time now near Sala’s Camp in the Masai Mara safari reserve. We’ve been spotting Pamoja and her second pup regularly on our night cameras, but this was the very first time we experienced an incredible daylight viewing out in the open as she moved her baby between burrows.

There are eight different pangolin species. ©Mikey Carr-Hartley

Adorably known as ‘pangopups’ (which might just be our new favourite word), baby pangolins are born six inches long with soft pink scales that harden after a day or so. Their mode of transport seems somewhat precarious as they must grip onto smooth scales and just getting up there alone can be quite a challenge! Pangopups enjoy being piggybacked around until they’re weaned at around three months. If threatened, their mum rolls into a tight ball around baby, making an impenetrable shield to predators.

Pamoja has a tracker attached to her scales to help monitor her behaviour. ©Mikey Carr-Hartley

Tragically, although a pretty good lion defence, this doesn’t work against their biggest predator of all: humans. As the most trafficked mammal in the world, pangolins need all the protection and help we can give them to secure their future on this planet.

Safari Guide Gary Hopcraft captures an incredible moment of a lion playing with a curled up pangolin.

The Pangolin Project, who have a conservation and research team based at Sala’s Camp, are working tirelessly to raise awareness for the perilous plight of pangolins and to stop illegal poaching of them in Kenya. If you’d like to help save this species and secure a peaceful existence for this gentle creature, then a donation to The Pangolin Project can go a long way. Please find out more about how you can contribute here.