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Hystrix cristata

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
ANIMALIA CHORDATA MAMMALIA RODENTIA HYSTRICIDAE

Scientific Name: Hystrix cristata
Species Authority: Linnaeus, 1758
Common Name(s):
English Crested Porcupine, North African Crested Porcupine
French Porc-épic à Crete, Porc-épic du Nord de l'Afrique
Spanish Puercoespín

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2008
Date Assessed: 2008-06-30
Assessor(s): Grubb, P., Amori, G., de Smet, K. & Bertolino, S.
Reviewer(s): Amori, G. (Small Nonvolant Mammal Red List Authority) & Temple, H. (Global Mammal Assessment Team)
Justification:
Globally this species is very widespread, although it is a favoured food item for humans in many parts of its range, and there should be some investigation into harvest levels in these areas (e.g. north and west Africa). It is therefore listed as Least Concern.
History:
2004 Least Concern

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: The crested porcupine is found in Italy, North Africa and sub-Saharan Africa. In the Mediterranean it is known from mainland Italy and the island of Sicily, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia; there are also records from Libya, and along the Egyptian coast (Osborn and Helmy 1980). It has been recorded from sea level to 2,550 m in Moroccan Anti Atlas (Cuzin 2003). It is sometimes asserted that the porcupine was introduced to Italy by the Romans, but fossil and subfossil remains suggest it was possibly present in Europe in the Upper Pleistocene (Amori and Angelici 1999).
Countries:
Native:
Algeria; Angola (Angola); Benin; Burkina Faso; Cameroon; Chad; Côte d'Ivoire; Eritrea; Ethiopia; Gambia; Ghana; Guinea-Bissau; Italy; Kenya; Liberia; Libya; Mali; Mauritania; Morocco; Niger; Nigeria; Rwanda; Senegal; Sierra Leone; Somalia; South Sudan; Sudan; Tanzania, United Republic of; Togo; Tunisia; Uganda
Possibly extinct:
Egypt
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: In mainland Italy, population densities are increasing, and the species is expanding its range northwards. On Sicily, the porcupine is widespread, and the long-term population trend appears to be stable (Amori and Angelici 1999). Outside Europe, there is little published information on population trends, but there have been declines in at least some areas, probably as a result of persecution and exploitation for its meat and quills (Nowak 1999). In Africa, it is generally common throughout the range, although it is becoming increasingly rare in North Africa (where there has been a decline in range and population). In Morocco, it is declining and clearly threatened (Cuzin 2003). The species may have been extirpated in Egypt since 1980, and has been extinct in heavily-settled parts of Uganda since the 1970s (Nowak 1999).
Population Trend: Unknown

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: In the Mediterranean it inhabits dry Mediterranean shrubland, maquis, abandoned farmland, steppe, forest and dry rocky areas. In West Africa, it is found in both woodland savanna and forest formations. Its den is in a deep burrow or a cave. Its diet consists of roots and tubers (including cultivated crops), bark, and fallen fruit (Nowak 1999, S. Lovari in litt. 2006). This is a mainly nocturnal animal, living and breeding in burrows or dens. It is a solitary forager, known to travel long distances in search of food.
Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Despite being strictly protected under international and domestic legislation in Europe, the porcupine is still illegally hunted for meat (often with dogs). This occurs both in Europe and Africa (G. Amori pers. comm. 2006). In parts of the range it is considered a pest species and it is sometimes illegally controlled with poison baits because of the damage it may do to crops (Macdonald and Barrett 1993), a practice which continues (G. Amori pers. comm. 2006). However, at present these are not thought to be major threats to the survival of the species in Europe.

It is collected for human consumption in most parts of its range (including Italy, North Africa, and West Africa). It is also an agricultural pest causing damage to crops and fields. In Morocco, it is widely used for traditional medicine / witchcraft, and sold very commonly in local markets (F. Cuzin pers. comm. 2007).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: It is strictly protected under Appendix II of the Bern Convention. It is listed on Annex IV of the EU Habitats and Species Directive, and has been protected under Italian national law since 1974. It is found in several protected areas throughout its range. The species is a favoured food item in many parts of its range, and investigations are needed into harvest levels in these areas, including North Africa and West Africa. In Morocco it is considered Endangered (Cuzin 2003).

Citation: Grubb, P., Amori, G., de Smet, K. & Bertolino, S. 2008. Hystrix cristata. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 17 September 2014.
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