Rhynchocyon chrysopygus


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Rhynchocyon chrysopygus
Species Authority: Günther, 1881
Common Name(s):
English Golden-rumped Sengi, Golden-rumped Elephant-shrew
Taxonomic Notes: In the past the single family was included in the order Insectivora, but now the family is in the monophyletic order Macroscelidea and the newly created super-cohort Afrotheria. Currently, there are 17 living species recognized in four genera. The soft-furred sengis or elephant-shrews include three genera: Macroscelides and Petrodromus are each monospecific, while Elephantulus contains 11 species. The four species of giant sengis belong to the genus Rhynchocyon. The common name "sengi" is being used in place of elephant-shrew by many biologists to try and disassociate the Macroscelidea from the true shrews (family Soricidae) in the order Soricomorpha. See the Afrotheria Specialist Group web site for additional information.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Endangered B1ab(iii) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2008
Date Assessed: 2008-06-30
Assessor(s): FitzGibbon, C. & Rathbun, G. (IUCN SSC Afrotheria Specialist Group)
Reviewer(s): Rathbun, G. (Afrotheria Red List Authority) & Hoffmann, M. (Global Mammal Assessment Team)
The most important site for the species is Arabuko-Sokoke Forest, providing 372 km² of habitat, supporting c. 10,000–20,000 individuals. The species was recorded in five out of an additional 13 small patches of coastal forest surveyed north of Mombasa in the early 1990s (FitzGibbon 1994). However these forest patches, many of which are kayas (sites held sacred by the Mijikenda people), are all very small (mostly less than 1 km²) and their continued existence is in doubt. The species is not restricted to true forest, also occurring in some scrub and degraded woodland habitats, although usually at low densities (FitzGibbon 1994). These secondary habitats probably cover less than 500 km² (FitzGibbon 1994). Boni Forest (c. 133 km²), and small forest patches nearby, may provide additional habitat but there is currently no information on the status of the Golden-rumped Elephant-shrew in this area. They are not thought to occur in Witu Forest (Rathbun 1979b), probably because it is a ground-water forest. The species is listed as Endangered B1ab(iii), based on having an extent of occurrence less than 5,000 km², severely fragmented habitat, and continuing decline.
2006 Endangered (IUCN 2006)
2006 Endangered
1996 Endangered
1994 Vulnerable (Groombridge 1994)
1990 Vulnerable (IUCN 1990)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: This species is endemic to Kenya and occurs in fragmented and small forest patches inland from Mombasa (on the north side of the Kombeni River near the Rabai Hills) north as far as the Boni Forest (Corbet and Hanks 1968; Rathbun 1979a,b), but probably absent from gallery and ground-water forests.
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: Populations densities in the Arabuko-Sokoke Forest decreased by c. 30% between 1993 and 1996 from an estimated 20,000 to 14,000 individuals (Bauer 1996; FitzGibbon 1994); the decline appeared to be concentrated in the Cynometra woodland, rather than in the mixed or Brachystegia woodland. Population trends in other areas are unknown, except for the small population at Gede Ruins National Monument (an area of 44 ha) declined significantly between the early 1970s (population estimated at ca 70 individuals; Rathbun 1979a) and the early 1990s (population estimated at <15 individuals; FitzGibbon 1994). Clearance of woodland and scrub in surrounding areas is likely to have resulted in further population declines elsewhere.
Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: The Golden-rumped Sengi is found in forest, dense woodland, and thicket habitats that support dense leaf litter on the ground. They eat a wide range of invertebrates, including beetles, termites, earth worms, and millipedes. They are diurnal and form monogamous pairs (FitzGibbon 1997). They spend the night on the forest floor in leaf nests, which have been used to estimate relatively abundance (FitzGibbon and Rathbun 1994). They produce single highly precocial young about every two months throughout the year. In many regards, their general natural history is best understood if one considers them a combination of a small ant-eater and a miniature antelope (Rathbun 1979a; FitzGibbon 1995).
Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Outside of Arabuko-Sokoke Forest, the major threat to this species is likely to be habitat loss (Rathbun and Kyalo 2000), as a result of clearance of scrub and woodland. Many of the kaya forests have been severely degraded by tree felling and pole collecting, and their boundaries eroded by agricultural encroachment. Habitat loss not only results in a reduced distribution, but also increases isolation of the remaining small populations. Within Arabuko-Sokoke Forest, the species appears to be adversely affected by logging (but not pole collecting), primarily in the Cynometra habitat type. This may be due to the resulting reduction in leaf litter and canopy cover, and the loss of hollow trunks used as refuges (FitzGibbon 1994; Bauer 1996; Rathbun and Kyalo 2000); trapping by woodcarvers who camp in the Cynometra habitat for long periods and trap a variety of wildlife for food may also be contributing to the decline. It was estimated in the early 1990s that about 3,000 Golden-rumped Sengis were being caught per year by hunters in Arabuko-Sokoke Forest. At that time the species was not being targeted by hunters (it has an unpleasant taste), it was primarily caught in traps and snares designed for other animals (particularly the Four-toed Sengi, Petrodromus tetradactylus), and overall trapping was considered unlikely to be having a significant impact on population levels (FitGibbon et al. 1995). However, trapping intensity in Arabuko-Sokoke is reduced by forest guard patrols, and unrestricted trapping in un-patrolled areas may be having a negative impact. Predation by dogs may be an additional threat close to areas of habitation (FitzGibbon 1994).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Arabuko-Sokoke Forest is the focus of a project to promote long-term conservation of the forest through sustainable management and community participation in forest conservation (Rathbun and Kyalo 2000). A 25-year Strategic Management Plan (2002 to 2027) has been developed for this forest. Golden-rumped Sengis are currently being monitored in the Arabuko-Sokoke Forest under a three year (2003 - 2005) USAID funded project run by Nature Kenya (the Kenyan partner to BirdLife International). The forest is managed jointly by the Forest Department and Kenya Wildlife Service. The kaya forests are the subject of a project run by the Coast Forest Conservation Unit (National Museums of Kenya), which assists local communities to re-establish effective local control over resources in these sacred forests. Through the efforts of the CFCU, these forests have been gazetted as National Monuments, a legal status which prevents development and encroachment but provides only limited protection for biodiversity.

Citation: FitzGibbon, C. & Rathbun, G. (IUCN SSC Afrotheria Specialist Group) 2008. Rhynchocyon chrysopygus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.3. <>. Downloaded on 30 May 2015.
Disclaimer: To make use of this information, please check the <Terms of Use>.
Feedback: If you see any errors or have any questions or suggestions on what is shown on this page, please provide us with feedback so that we can correct or extend the information provided