Rhynchocyon petersi 


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Macroscelidea Macroscelididae

Scientific Name: Rhynchocyon petersi
Species Authority: Bocage, 1880
Common Name(s):
English Black and Rufous Sengi, Black and Rufous Elephant-shrew, Zanj Sengi
Taxonomic Source(s): Corbet, G.B. and Hanks, J. 1968. A revision of the elephant-shrews, family Macroscelididae. Bulletin of the British Museum of Natural History (Zoology) 16: 1-111.
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: Vulnerable B1ab(iii) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2008
Date Assessed: 2008-06-30
Assessor(s): Rathbun, G.B. & Butynski, T.M.
Reviewer(s): Rathbun, G. (Afrotheria Red List Authority) & Hoffmann, M. (Global Mammal Assessment Team)
The same factors contributing to loss of habitat and numbers of Golden-rumped Sengis face the Black and Rufous Sengi (Hanna and Anderson 1994). In addition, the Black and Rufous Sengi apparently does not reach densities as high as those documented for Golden-rumped Sengis (FitzGibbon 1994; Hanna and Anderson 1994; Rathbun 1979). On the other hand, because of the considerably wider distribution of R. petersi compared with R. chrysopygus, including numerous forest reserves and parks in both Kenya and Tanzania, is it not likely to be as threatened as the Golden-rumped Sengi. Until the more detailed review of its status is completed and data suggest otherwise, this animal should be considered Vulnerable rather than Endangered.
Previously published Red List assessments:
2006 Vulnerable (VU)
1996 Endangered (EN)
1994 Rare (R)
1990 Rare (R)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: Endemic to East Africa and confined to the Eastern Arc mountain and coastal forests. In the Eastern Arc Mountains found in forests associated with the Shimba Hills in Kenya and south into Tanzania on the Pare, Usambara, Nguu, Nguru, and Uluguru mountains. A population in the Ndundulu Forest of the Udzungwa Mountains appears to be surrounded by Rhynchocyon cirnei. Along the coast populations occur in small and fragmented forests from Diani Forest, Kenya, south to the Rufiji River, Tanzania, including the islands of Zanzibar (= Unguja) and Mafia.
Countries occurrence:
Kenya; Tanzania, United Republic of
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: A relatively rare species with a fragmented and restricted distribution. Maximum densities, estimated from transect surveys of nests, up to 79.3/km² (Hanna and Anderson 1994). However, there are no population estimates for the numerous disjunct populations in the many isolated forests where this species occurs.
Current Population Trend: Unknown
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented: No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Relatively little is known about the biology of the Black and Rufous Sengi because no detailed field studies have been completed. It occupies evergreen and semi-deciduous forests, dense woodlands, coral rag scrub, and abandoned and overgrown agricultural lands with closed canopies where a thick layer of leaf litter accumulates (Corbet and Hanks, 1968). In recent years these habitats are becoming more fragmented, isolated, and small, which is often not illustrated in distribution maps for this species. Like other members of the genus, it is completely terrestrial and diurnal with very keen senses. R. petersi, like other sengis, has a propensity to quickly flee any disturbance in a highly cursorial gait (Allen and Loveridge 1927). It builds nests similar to those of the Golden-rumped Sengi (Hanna and Anderson 1994), and produces 1-2 highly cursorial neonates per litter. It feeds on forest floor invertebrates. Most often only brief sightings of lone individuals are made, although it is probably monogamous like the Golden-rumped sengi. Most aspects of its natural history are probably similar to the Golden-rumped Sengi (Rathbun 1979).
Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Fragmentation and degradation of forested habitats due to urban and agricultural expansion is the major threat to this sengi (Nicoll and Rathbun 1990). Extraction of timber for woodcarving, firewood, and charcoal production are also threats to its habitats. Given the similarity between the Golden-rumped Sengi and the Black and Rufous Sengi (Rathbun 1979), it is very likely that the latter is experiencing overall population declines due to habitat loss and degradation (Hanna and Anderson 1994).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Numerous relatively small blocks of forest are designated as forest reserves in both Kenya and Tanzania, and these offer some level of protection of habitat needed by this sengi. Currently, several members of the IUCN SSC Afrotheria Specialist Group are collecting data to undertake a status review of R. petersi. In 2000, Black and Rufous Sengis from Tanzania were imported to North American zoos, where they have successfully bred. In the future, the husbandry methods developed may be useful in captive breeding and reintroduction programs.

Citation: Rathbun, G.B. & Butynski, T.M. 2008. Rhynchocyon petersi. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2008: e.T19708A9004669. . Downloaded on 31 May 2016.
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