Skip to main content
Log in

Scale samples from Temminck’s ground pangolin (Smutsia temminckii): a non-invasive source of DNA

Conservation Genetics Resources Aims and scope Submit manuscript

Cite this article


Non-invasive sampling aims to obtain suitable samples without causing harm to the study organism, thus making it a more preferred sampling technique. Molecular methods have advanced in such a way that quality DNA can be obtained from less invasive mammal samples. Various PCR enhancing techniques have also been developed to aid in amplification of low quality DNA samples, to produce reliable results that can be used to monitor populations and species or for forensic applications. Temminck’s ground pangolin is one of the few mammals to be covered in scales. In this study, we attempt to identify the most appropriate DNA isolation and PCR methods as well as determine whether PCR additives could be used to improve isolation of DNA and downstream amplification of mitochondrial DNA, from scale samples collected from these pangolins. In this study, it was determined that several different methods are required in order to successfully amplify DNA, and a decision tree rather than a single method should be followed.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Institutional subscriptions

Fig. 1


  • Atkins WA (2004) Pholidota pangolins (Manidae). In Grzimek B, Kleiman DG, Geist V, McDade MC (eds) Grzimek's animal life encyclopedia, vol 16. Thomson-Gale, Detroit

  • Bräutigam A, Howes J, Humphreys T, Hutton J (1994) Recent information on the status and utlilization of African pangolins. Traffic Bull 15:15–22

    Google Scholar 

  • Challender DWS, Hywood L (2012) African pangolins: Under increased pressure from poaching and intercontinental trade. Traffic Bull 24:53–55

    Google Scholar 

  • Herklots GAC (1937) The pangolin or scaly anteater. Hong Kong Nat 8:78–83

    Google Scholar 

  • Nagai M, Yoshida A, Sato N (1998) Additive effects of bovine serum albumin, dithiothereitol and glycerol on PCR. Biochem Mol Biol 44:157–163

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Pietersen DW (2013) Behavioural ecology and conservation biology of ground pangolins,Smutsia temminckii in the Kalahari Desert. Dissertation, University of Pretoria

  • Taberlet P, Griffin S, Goossens B, Questiau S, Manceau V, Escaravage N, Waits LP, Bouvet J (1996) Reliable genotyping of samples with very low DNA quantities using PCR. Nucleic Acids Res 24:3189–3194

    Article  CAS  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

Download references


This study was supported by the National Zoological Gardens of South Africa (NZG) and was funded by the National Research Foundation (NRF) grant: KFD—competitive support for unrated researchers (Grant No. 78865). We thank the Tikki Hywood Trust, FreeMe Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre, Darren Pietersen (African Pangolin Working Group), Mundulea Nature Reserve and the National Museum in Bloemfontein for providing samples for this study.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Zelda du Toit.

Electronic supplementary material

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

du Toit, Z., Grobler, J.P., Kotze, A. et al. Scale samples from Temminck’s ground pangolin (Smutsia temminckii): a non-invasive source of DNA. Conservation Genet Resour 9, 1–4 (2017).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: