Herpestes flavescens 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Carnivora Herpestidae

Scientific Name: Herpestes flavescens Bocage, 1889
Common Name(s):
English Kaokoveld Slender Mongoose, Angolan Slender Mongoose, Black Mongoose, Black Slender Mongoose
French Mangouste rouge du Kaokoveld
Galerella flavescens (Bocage, 1889)
Herpestes nigratus (Thomas, 1928)
Taxonomic Notes: Crawford Cabral (1989, 1996) considered nigratus conspecific with the earlier described flavescens Bocage, 1889 from Angola. This classification has been followed by others (Bronner et al. 2003, Wozencraft 2005, Taylor 2013, Veron et al. in press) and is adopted here. While the 'Black Mongoose' (Myonax nigratus Thomas, 1928) was initially described as a species in its own right, there has been much controversy surrounding its species status (summarised in Rapson 2011), and notably it was regarded as a subspecies of the Cape Grey Mongoose (H. pulverulentus) by Ellerman et al. (1953). However, unique characteristics of nigratus distinguishing it from both H. pulverulentus and Common Slender Mongoose (H. sanguineus) include craniometric variables—size of anterior and posterior chambers of the auditory bulla, presence or absence of the postorbital bar and the number of lower premolars—and pelage colour (Watson and Dippenaar 1987, Watson 1990, Taylor and Goldman 1993). Rapson et al. (2012) presented the first genetic evidence indicating that it is indeed a species separate from both H. pulverulentus and H. sanguineus. In addition, nigratus may actually constitute a species distinct from H. flavescens, as highlighted by Rathbun and Cowley (2008) who noted the remarkable difference in pelage colouration between specimens from Angola and Namibia, the lack of comparative data between the two forms in Crawford-Cabral’s papers, and the possible ecological differences between the two forms. Comparative ecological, morphometric and genetic studies of individuals from Namibia and Angola are needed to resolve this taxonomic conundrum. The Kaokoveld Slender Mongoose, alongside other 'small' African Herpestes species, are here retained in the genus Herpestes, although Watson and Dippenaar (1987) included them in the genus Galerella, a classification which is backed up by molecular studies (Rapson et al. 2012, Veron et al. in press).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2015
Date Assessed: 2015-05-17
Assessor(s): Rapson, S. & Rathbun, G.B.
Reviewer(s): Duckworth, J.W. & Hoffmann, M.
Contributor(s): Hoffmann, M.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Do Linh San, E.
It is listed as Least Concern because although this species has a relatively restricted distribution, and is associated with a particular microhabitat, it is believed to be common. There are no known major threats to the species, and it is present in several protected areas.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Individuals with tan or yellowish pelage (hence 'flavescens') are confined to southwestern Angola, whereas those with very dark, nearly black pelage (hence 'nigratus')—yet with a distinctive rufus tinge—occur in northwestern and northcentral Namibia (Crawford-Cabral 1996, Tromp 2011, Taylor 2013, G. Rathbun pers. obs. 2000–2008). These two regions comprise together the entire range of the species.
Countries occurrence:
Angola; Namibia
Additional data:
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:There is little information available on either colour form of this species because there are few specimens in museums. However, it is relatively common in Namibia where it has been studied, and is assumed to be so in arid regions of Angola (Taylor 2013). In Namibia, it is sometimes confused with the Common Dwarf Mongoose (Helogale parvula), which is also nearly black in colour, although this latter is smaller, highly social, and is more of a habitat generalist. This confusion partly hinders understanding of how common Kaokoveld Slender Mongoose really is in this country.
Current Population Trend:Unknown
Additional data:
Continuing decline of mature individuals:Unknown
Extreme fluctuations:UnknownPopulation severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:In northern Namibia, this species is restricted to habitats dominated by large granitic boulders, and the drainages and woodlands connecting these. This results in a fragmented distribution (Shortridge 1934, Rathbun and Cowley 2008, Rapson et al. 2013). There is little information available on Kaokoveld Slender Mongooses from Angola, but because GIS imagery suggests that there are granite outcrops in southwestern Angola, it is likely that Angolan populations have similar habitat preferences to their Namibian counterparts. In Namibia, genetic data suggest that populations of this mongoose are linked, despite the isolation of their preferred kopje habitats (Rapson et al. 2013). Studies of H. flavescens in Namibia revealed that it is predominantly solitary. Home ranges are 0.12–1.5 km2, although they may be up to 4 km2, are often overlapping, and include multiple den sites (Rathbun and Cowley 2008, Tromp 2011). Foraging behaviour of these mongooses in Namibia indicates that they are highly opportunistic (Rathbun et al. 2005). Prey items include insects, scorpions and solifugae, small mammals, birds, lizards and snakes (Rathbun and Cowley 2008, Nakwaya 2009, Warren et al. 2009), suggesting a very catholic diet.
Generation Length (years):3

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: This species is not used.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): There are no known major threats to either the Angolan or Namibian forms of the species. However, high levels of hybridisation occur with its sister species (Common Slender Mongoose H. sanguineus) at Spitzkoppe and Ruacana in Namibia (Rapson et al. 2012). The close contact of these two species may be because of unusually large populations of H. sanguineus that have resulted from local communities unintentionally providing food scraps and chickens, thus increasing the probability of contact between the two mongooses. In addition, the encroachment of local communities with dogs and livestock has led to the disappearance of Kaokoveld Slender Mongoose from several areas in northern Namibia. This could be a result of dog predation and trapping mongooses by local communities in order to reduce chicken losses (Tromp 2011).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: This species is recorded from several protected areas, including the Skeleton Coast Park and Etosha National Park (Tromp 2011). The individuals in Namibia appear to adapt well to low-intensity tourism activities, remaining elusive but relatively common (Rathbun and Cowley 2008, Tromp 2011).

Citation: Rapson, S. & Rathbun, G.B. 2015. Herpestes flavescens. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015: e.T41599A45205933. . Downloaded on 20 June 2018.
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