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Micropotamogale ruwenzorii

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
ANIMALIA CHORDATA MAMMALIA AFROSORICIDA TENRECIDAE

Scientific Name: Micropotamogale ruwenzorii
Species Authority: (de Witte & Frechkop, 1955)
Common Name(s):
English Rwenzori Otter Shrew, Ruwenzori Otter Shrew
French Le Micropotamogle Du Mont Ruwenzori

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Near Threatened 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 lives in some very isolated areas, yet as human habitation and pressure in their range grows, the species tends to disappear. Increasing human density in the region is cause of concern. The species is close to qualifying for Vulnerable under criterion B, but some parts of the range are still intact, so the range is not thought to be severely fragmented.
History:
2006 Near Threatened (IUCN 2006)
2006 Near Threatened
1996 Endangered
1994 Indeterminate (Groombridge 1994)
1990 Indeterminate (IUCN 1990)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: Endemic to central Africa. Found only in the Rwenzori region (Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo), and west of Lake Edward and Lake Kivu (Democratic Republic of Congo) (Rahm 1966; Bronner and Jenkins 2005).
Countries:
Native:
Congo, The Democratic Republic of the; Uganda
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: Little quantitative information; locally not rare.
Population Trend: Unknown

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Found in streams and small rivers of varying size in the rainforest zone from 800 to 900 m (n=4) and in montane forest up to 2,200 m (n=4) (Rahm 1960). Also recorded in streams in gallery forest surrounded by secondary savanna (elephant grass) from 1,000 to 1,200 m. It digs tunnels and constructs hay or grass sleeping chambers within them. Micropotamogale spp. have been recorded eating insects, insect larvae, worms, crabs, fish and small frogs.

Within the Potamogalinae, the webbed feet of M. ruwenzorii reveal a peculiar strong adaptation for aquatic life: even the forefeet are proportionally very big, the thumb and little finger elongated (Verheyen 1961). Similar morphological adaptations are found in only a few other insectivorous small mammals such as Limnogale mergulus (Tenrecidae), Nectogale elegans (Soricidae) and Galemys pyrenaica (Talpidae) which are always separated from species without webbed feet on generic level. Swimming is done according to the paddling mode including pectoral and pelvic stroke (as in polar bear) in cross gate. Only when diving the feet may be used synchronously (Rahm 1961) as observed in the Pyrenean Desman (Niethammer 1970). The tail seems not to be use for propulsion. There are several periods of activity each night; grooming occurs after each activity period (Rahm 1961).

Foraging occurs in water. The preferred prey are crabs with a carapace width <5 em, aquatic insects, oligochaete worms and fish (Clarias, etc.). An otter-shrew weighing 135 g eats an equivalent of 80 g of food per night. Manipulation of food is performed only with the mouth, not with the forefeet. Faecal pellets (ca. 2-5 em long, diameter 0.9 em) contain fragments of chitin from the crab and insect prey (Rahm 1961).

No information exists on social or reproductive behavior. Embryo number: 1 (n=2) or 2 (n=1) (Rahm 1960, Stephan pers. comm).
Systems: Terrestrial; Freshwater

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): This species is susceptible to getting caught in fish traps. The main threat, however, is loss of habitat in its restricted range through human activities.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Present in the Virunga National Park. Basic biology and conservation research will determine the types and feasibility of realistic conservation measures.

Citation: Vogel, P. (IUCN SSC Afrotheria Specialist Group) 2008. Micropotamogale ruwenzorii. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 29 August 2014.
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