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Elephantulus pilicaudus

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
ANIMALIA CHORDATA MAMMALIA MACROSCELIDEA MACROSCELIDIDAE

Scientific Name: Elephantulus pilicaudus
Species Authority: Smit, 2008
Common Name(s):
English Karoo Rock Sengi, Karoo Rock Elephant-shrew
Taxonomic Notes: In the past, the single family was included in the order Insectivora, but now the family is in the well-defined monophyletic order Macroscelidea and the newly created supercohort Afrotheria. Currently, there are 19 living sengi species recognized in four genera. The soft-furred sengis or elephant-shrews include three genera: Petrodromus is monospecific, Macroscelides contains three species, and Elephantulus contains 11 species. The four species of giant sengis belong to the genus Rhynchocyon. The common name “sengi” is often used in place of elephant-shrew by many biologists to try and disassociate the Macroscelidea from the true shrews (family Soricidae) in the order Eulipotyphla. See www.afrotheria.net and www.sengis.org for additional information.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Data Deficient ver 3.1
Year Published: 2015
Date Assessed: 2013-11-27
Assessor(s): Smit-Robinson, H. & Rathbun, G.
Reviewer(s): Taylor, A.
Justification:
This species was described in 2008, based almost entirely on molecular genetics, with weak support from external morphology - thus, it is a highly cryptic species. It is considered a sister species of the Cape Rock Sengi, Elephantulus edwardii. There are only five locations (with a total of 17 specimens) known, with two of these locations based on trapping after the year 2000, the other three are based on older museum specimens. Based on these five locations, this species mainly occurs in boulder habitats, but a sample of five locations is not sufficient to conclude anything. The five locations fall within an area of about 23,000 km2, but this area may include areas not occupied by this species, and thus a fragmented distribution is possible, but this is pure speculation. All sengi species carefully studied to date occur at low densities, which suggests relatively few animals per unit area. Recent trapping efforts for this species indicate this may be the case here. Although no threats are known, without actual abundance and density data, more locations, habitat associations, and a proper assessment of habitat condition, there are not enough data to justify anything but a Data Deficient category.
History:
2009 Data Deficient

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: The Karoo Rock Sengi is endemic to South Africa occurring in the Northern Cape Province and the northwestern edge of the Western Cape Province. The species therefore appears limited to the Nama-Karoo vegetation biome in the south-central semi-arid Karoo of South Africa. The Nama-Karoo is subdivided into Bushmanland and the Upper and Lower Karoo bioregion vegetational units (Mucina and Rutherford 2006). Based on genetic evidence, E. pilicaudus is divided into two clades (Smit et al. 2008) . Specimens from the Upper Karoo bioregion have a different genetic profile than those from the Lower Karoo bioregion. Because there are only five known locations where the new species occurs, the distribution is not well understood, although it appears to be highly restricted. It is possible that the distributions of the Cape Rock Sengi (E. edwardii) and the Western Rock Sengi (E. rupestris) do not overlap with E. pilicaudus. Within the range of the new species, it is not likely to be continuously distributed because its boulder and rock habitats are highly fragmented, thus the area encompassed by the known locations is undoubtedly greatly exaggerated. All known locations are >1,300 m asl.
Countries:
Native:
South Africa (Northern Cape Province, Western Cape)
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: The abundance and population size is unknown. Despite numerous field excursions in the region, only 17 specimens of the new species from five locations in the Nama-Karoo are known (three live trapped by Hanneline Smit; two trapped by Galen Rathbun, and 12 museum specimens housed in South African museums). In October 2008, a farm near Calvinia in the Northern Cape Province of South Africa, where three live specimens were trapped in September 2006, was revisited by H. Smit and an effort to trap additional live specimens was unsuccessful. This reinforces the evidence of a species with a low abundance.
Population Trend: Unknown

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: This species is confined to rocky or boulder-strewn habitats against mountain slopes or on ridges in karroid vegetation. Based on the five locations where it has been trapped, the species may have similar ecology as its sister species the Cape Rock Sengi (E. edwardii), and the boulder- and rock-dwelling Western Rock Sengi (E. rupestris) (Corbet and Hanks 1968).
Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The species occurs in an area of ongoing livestock farming, which poses no direct threat to the species. Because it occupies rocky and boulder habitats that are not suitable for most agricultural or urban development, there are no known threats to the Karoo Rock Sengi.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Concerted efforts should be made to assess the relative abundance of this species, and further document its apparent limited distribution. It is unknown whether the species occurs in any protected areas other than the Karoo National Park, Beaufort-West. The species is limited to a region of local endemism and shares a distribution with other Karoo endemic mammals, such as the Riverine Rabbit Bunolagus monticularis and Grant's Rock Mouse Aethomys granti, which may be an important consideration in identifying and establishing additional protected areas in the region.

Citation: Smit-Robinson, H. & Rathbun, G. 2015. Elephantulus pilicaudus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 02 July 2015.
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