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Litocranius walleri

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
ANIMALIA CHORDATA MAMMALIA CETARTIODACTYLA BOVIDAE

Scientific Name: Litocranius walleri
Species Authority: (Brooke, 1879)
Common Name(s):
English Gerenuk
Taxonomic Notes: Two subspecies have been named, the southern L. w. walleri and the larger northern L. w. sclateri (see Grubb 2002).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Near Threatened ver 3.1
Year Published: 2008
Date Assessed: 2008-06-30
Assessor(s): IUCN SSC Antelope Specialist Group
Reviewer(s): Mallon, D.P. (Antelope Red List Authority) & Hoffmann, M. (Global Mammal Assessment)
Justification:
Still widespread throughout its range, except in parts of Somalia where it has been severely reduced. The total population has been estimated at 95,000, only 10% of which occurred in protected areas. Populations were considered stable in protected areas, but declining elsewhere. East (1999) noted a 50% decline in Kenya since 1970. The ongoing decline is predicted to continue due to hunting and livestock grazing. The level of decline is estimated to have reached at least 25% over 3 generations (21 years) calculated from 1990, thereby almost qualifying for listing as Vulnerable under criterion A2cd.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: The Gerenuk formerly occurred widely in the semi-arid bushland of North-east Africa, reaching the northern limit of its continental distribution in the arid thornbush of southern Djibouti. It apparently still occurs in this area in stable numbers. It still occupies large parts of its historical range in Ethiopia, Kenya and Tanzania, but little information is available on its current distribution in Somalia (East 1999).
Countries:
Native:
Djibouti; Ethiopia; Kenya; Somalia; Tanzania, United Republic of
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: Recent population estimates are available for substantial parts of the Gerenuk’s range, mainly from aerial surveys. Summation of the available estimates gives a total of 24,000. Citing various authors, East (1999) indicates that this is probably a substantial underestimate of actual numbers, because of undercounting from the air and the lack of population estimates for regions such as the Ogaden in eastern Ethiopia. Estimates of population density obtained by aerial surveys are generally low, e.g., 0.01-0.06/km² in areas such as the Awash Valley, Borana and Chew Bahir, Tsavo, and Mkomazi; and 0.2-0.3/km² in Sibiloi, Samburu and Murule. Ground surveys in areas where the species is common have produced density estimates of 0.3-l.4/km².

Assuming an average correction factor of 3.5 for undercounting bias in aerial surveys, and that areas for which population estimates are unavailable support an average density of 0.5/km² where the species is known to be common and 0.05/km² elsewhere, East (1999) produced an estimated total population of 95,000. The largest surviving populations occur in south-western Ethiopia and the northern and eastern rangelands of Kenya. Population trend is generally stable in protected areas, with a few notable exceptions such as the declining population of Tsavo National Park, and gradually decreasing elsewhere.
Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Inhabits bushland, thickets, semi-arid and arid thornbush (below 1,600 m), avoiding dense woodlands and very open grass-dominated habitats. One of the most exclusive browsers, Gerenuk are largely independent of water (Leuthold in press).
Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The Gerenuk’s shyness and preference for cover enable it to withstand hunting pressures to some degree, and it can be favoured by the spread of thickets which occurs when grasslands are overgrazed by livestock. These attributes have enabled it to survive widely in regions such as the Ogaden in the complete absence of protection. Nevertheless, it cannot persist indefinitely as human and livestock populations increase and subsistence hunting pressure escalates. If current trends continue, it may eventually disappear from large parts of its present distribution until it is largely restricted to effectively protected and managed areas of suitable habitat. Such areas currently comprise only a small part of its remaining range. The largest protected population, in Tsavo National Park, has been reduced by rinderpest and drought (East 1999).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: About 10% of the population is in protected areas. Important protected-area populations occur in areas such as Mago National Park (Ethiopia), Sibiloi, Tsavo and Meru National Parks and Samburu Game Reserve (Kenya) and Mkomazi Game Reserve and Tarangire N.P. (Tanzania). However, the northern subspecies remains poorly represented in protected areas.

Citation: IUCN SSC Antelope Specialist Group 2008. Litocranius walleri. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 21 August 2014.
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