Rhynchocyon cirnei 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Macroscelidea Macroscelididae

Scientific Name: Rhynchocyon cirnei Peters, 1847
Common Name(s):
English Chequered Sengi, Chequered Elephant-shrew
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 19 living species recognized in four genera. The soft-furred sengis or elephant-shrews include three genera: Petrodromus is monospecific, Macroscelides has three species, and 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 and for additional information.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2017
Date Assessed: 2016-07-18
Assessor(s): Hoffmann, M.
Reviewer(s): Taylor, A.
Contributor(s): Rathbun, G.B. & Stanley, W.
This species has a relatively wide distribution range and while not common does not appear to meet, or approximate, the criteria for listing as threatened under any of criteria B, C or D. There is little doubt that the loss and fragmentation of forest habitat due to human activities across the range is leading to a decline in numbers as habitats are degraded and lost. Further, some populations found in montane forests that are being impacted by logging and other habitat alteration, are likely experiencing conservation problems similar to those plaguing the Golden rumped Sengi (Rhynchocyon chrysopygus) and Black-and-rufous Sengi (R. petersi). However, it is unlikely that observed rates of forest loss across the range of this species are high enough to warrant the species listing, or approximating listing, under criterion A. Nonetheless, additional data, or continued destruction of its forest habitats, might result in this sengi being eligible for uplisting in the near future.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:This species occurs in central Africa, from Mozambique north of the Zambezi River; highlands associated with the Rift Valley system in Malawi, Zambia and Tanzania; western Uganda; south-eastern Tanzania, south of the Rufiji River; and Democratic Republic of Congo between the Congo and Ubangi Rivers (Corbet and Hanks 1968, Kingdon 1974, Rathbun 2013). In some generalized distribution maps R. cirnei is shown to occur in extreme southern Central African Republic, based on a single individual reputed to have been collected between Bangui and Mbaiki west of the Ubangi River; this would be the only record west of the Ubangi River and unless confirmed, this does not seem likely (Corbet and Hanks 1968). Although it has been assumed that Rcirnei occurs throughout much of Mozambique, in reality it is probably restricted to fragmented and small forests associated with montane and riparian habitats, and absent from vast area of more open woodlands (Coals and Rathbun 2013, G. Rathbun pers. comm. 2015).
Countries occurrence:
Congo, The Democratic Republic of the; Malawi; Mozambique; Tanzania, United Republic of; Uganda; Zambia
Additional data:
Upper elevation limit (metres):2100
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:There are no data on the relative abundance of Chequered Sengi populations. However, given the similarity to the Golden-rumped Sengi (R. chrysopygus) and the Gray-faced Sengi (R. udzungwensis), there is reason to believe that similar adverse population pressures exist for R. cirnei.
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:Yes

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:The Chequered Sengi is restricted to montane and lowland forests, closed-canopy woodlands, and riparian thickets where the substrate is usually covered with dense leaf litter. They occur to at least 2,100 m in the Rubehos in the Eastern Arc Mountains of Tanzania (Hoffmann et al. 2016). These habitats are often fragmented and isolated due to natural and anthropogenic activities, resulting in isolated and sometimes small populations of this sengi, although the fragmented nature of its occurrence is not illustrated in most distribution maps. Although there are no systematic field studies of R. cirnei, based on its general morphology, habitat associations, diurnality, nesting habits, and locomotion it is very likely that it's behavioral ecology is similar to that of the Golden-rumped Sengi and Gray-faced Sengi, which have been studied in more detail. These similarities include monogamy, a relatively low reproductive rate, precocial neonates (litter 1–3), and a diet of leaf litter invertebrates.
Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat:Yes
Movement patterns:Not a Migrant

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: There is some limited hunting for food of this species.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Vulnerable to habitat fragmentation, decline in forested areas, and quality of habitats due to human activities, similar to that documented for the Golden-rump Sengi, Rhynchocyon chrysopygus. Habitat loss may especially threaten some subspecies with more restricted distributions, such as R. c. macrurus in the coastal areas of southern Tanzania, as well as populations on isolated mountains such as Mt. Rungwe in southern Tanzania. Hunting for food is also likely to be a localized threat in parts of the range (e.g., Nielsen 2006). Highly isolated and small populations are also of concern, such as in the Mbira Forest near the exit of the Nile River from Lake Victoria in Uganda.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Not listed on the CITES Appendices. The species occurs in several protected areas throughout its range, including a number of forest reserves of varying levels of protection, but otherwise no specific conservation initiatives have been directed towards this species. It is likely that efforts to protect primates and antelopes in forest habitats may indirectly benefit R. cirnei.

Citation: Hoffmann, M. 2017. Rhynchocyon cirnei. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2017: e.T19709A21286777. . Downloaded on 21 June 2018.
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