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Micropotamogale lamottei

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
ANIMALIA CHORDATA MAMMALIA AFROSORICIDA TENRECIDAE

Scientific Name: Micropotamogale lamottei
Species Authority: Heim de Balsac, 1954
Common Name(s):
English Nimba Otter Shrew, Pygmy Otter-shrew
French Le Micropotamogale Du Mont Nimba

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Endangered B1ab(iii) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2008
Date Assessed: 2008-06-30
Assessor(s): Vogel, P. (IUCN SSC Afrotheria Specialist Group)
Reviewer(s): Rathbun, G. (Afrotheria Red List Authority) & Hoffmann, M. (Global Mammal Assessment Team)
Justification:
The species is confined to an area less than 5,000 km², which is severely fragmented and still declining. The specific ecology and biology of this species make it more susceptible to habitat loss in the region.
History:
2006 Endangered (IUCN 2006)
2006 Endangered
1996 Endangered
1994 Endangered (Groombridge 1994)
1990 Endangered (IUCN 1990)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: Endemic to a small region of West Africa. Known only from the Nimba mountains of Liberia, Guinea (Kuhn 1964) and Côte d'Ivoire (Vogel 1983), and the mountains of the Putu Range, Liberia (Kuhn 1971). This is a very restricted area, with the most distant recorded localities only 380 km apart.
Countries:
Native:
Côte d'Ivoire; Guinea; Liberia
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: Generally uncommon, with local density usually low; very rare where hills not present. In the Nimba region, a census of drowned animals from fish bow nets resulted in about one otter-shrew per 10 km² per year. In 1970, otter-shrews were frequently found close to village; by 1990, rarely found within 3–5 km of villages (P. Vogel pers. obs.).
Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: It is a nocturnal and semi-aquatic species. Very small creeks, larger streams and small swamps in primary and secondary rain forest in hilly country (Vogel 1983). Also occurs in regions where primary and secondary forest has been replaced by cocoa and coffee plantations, provided dense vegetation remains along streams. May occur in rice cultures (Kuhn 1964).

Efficient swimmer and diver, even though tail and feet are not specially adapted for aquatic life (Guth et al. 1959). Nimba Otter-shrews can remain underwater for over 10 minutes (when escaping from danger) by lowering the metabolic rate. The strong sensitive vibrissase are used for locating underwater prey. The less specialised feet and tail probably allows exploitation of a broader ecological niche compared with other species of otter-shrews. Foraging occurs along the river-banks and also in open water. The diet is mainly crabs and catfish, with a few insects (Kuhn 1964) and tadpoles; small mammals were not consumed (Vogel 1983). Otter-shrews carry captured crabs onto the land before eating them; the crab is then attacked from behind, minimising the chances of being bitten by the pincers, and the skeleton is crushed at the junction of the cephalothorax and abdomen (Vogel 1983). In captivity, the daily consumption was about 40 g fish per otter-shrew.

Evidence from the rare captures, and from predatory behaviour, suggest that the Nimba Otter shrew is rather solitary and territorial. However, a pair kept over several months in the same enclosure did not exhibit aggressive behaviour (Vogel 1983). Mean litter size (births and embryo numbers): 2.6 (range 1–4, mode = 2, n = 11) (Kuhn 1971, Vogel 1983, P. Vogel unpubl). Gestation: >50 days. The birth of a pup allowed the following observations (P. Vogel, unpubl): at birth, young naked, but whiskers present. Dorsal pelage on day 11, eyes open on day 23, and first solid food eaten on day 40.
Systems: Terrestrial; Freshwater

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Suitable habitat is threatened by mining, agricultural development and increased human activities. Mining activities in Liberia have devastated large regions of suitable habitat (Nicoll and Rathbun 1990) and wetland rice agriculture introduced in 1980 to the Nimba region has resulted in large-scale habitat destruction (P. Vogel, unpubl). Habitat conservation is considered to be ineffective. The increased use of fish traps and nets are a serious problem as human density increases.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: This species is present in the Mount Nimba Strict Nature Reserve in Guinea, and the Mont Nimba Strict Nature Reserve in Côte d'Ivoire. The full extent of the impact of mining and bycatch (in fish traps and nets) on the species is not known and requires investigation. Research on basic biology and conservation needs will determine the types and feasibility of realistic conservation measures.

Citation: Vogel, P. (IUCN SSC Afrotheria Specialist Group) 2008. Micropotamogale lamottei. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.3. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 21 December 2014.
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