All previous behavioural studies of Temminck’s ground pangolins (Smutsia temminckii) have
focused on populations in mesic regions. We examined home range size, activity periods,
habitat selectivity and refuge site selection of 13 individuals over three years in the Kalahari
Desert of South Africa, near the western edge of the species’ range. Kernel home ranges
of adults averaged 6.5 ± 5.9 km², while juveniles had average home ranges of 6.1 ± 4.0 km².
Reliable prediction of 95% of the Kernel home range required 88 ± 67.7 tracking days. No
significant habitat selectivity was observed. Earthen burrows were the most frequently
used refuge type. The time at which activity commenced varied seasonally as well as among
individuals, with an increase in diurnal activity during winter. Young pangolins also displayed
more diurnal activity compared to adults. Individuals spent 5.7 ± 2.0 hours per 24-hour cycle
outside of refuges, with no significant seasonal variation. Juvenile dispersal peaked during
mid-summer, with individuals travelling up to 49 km from their natal areas. We estimate a
breeding density of 0.16 individuals/km2 and a total density of 0.31 individuals/km2 for our
study area. Our data suggest that activity patterns, movements and refuge selection is similar
across the species’ southern African range, but that densities may be higher in the Kalahari
compared to populations in more mesic eastern areas.