Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Macroscelidea Macroscelididae

Scientific Name: Petrodromus tetradactylus
Species Authority: Peters, 1846
Common Name(s):
English Four-toed Sengi, Four-toed Elephant-shrew
Taxonomic Source(s): Douady, C.J., Catzeflis, F., Raman, J., Springer, M.S., Stanhope, M.J. 2003. The Sahara as a vicariant agent, and the role of Miocene climatic events, in the diversification of the mammalian order Macroscelidea (elephant shrews). Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 100: 8325-8330.
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: 2015
Date Assessed: 2013-11-25
Assessor(s): Rathbun, G.B. & FitzGibbon, C.
Reviewer(s): Taylor, A.
Contributor(s): Perrin, M., Stuart, C. & Smit-Robinson, H.
This sengi is the second most widespread species, occurring from central and eastern Africa south to the northeastern corner of South Africa. It occupies true forest habitats, dense woodlands, scrub, and riparian areas. It is also able to live in fallow agricultural areas that have suitable cover and leaf litter, invertebrates for food. Although habitat destruction and subsistence hunting may be a problem in localized areas, overall this sengi faces minimal threats. The Four-toed Sengi is listed as Least Concern.
Previously published Red List assessments:
2008 Least Concern (LC)
2006 Least Concern (LC)
1996 Lower Risk/least concern (LR/lc)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: This species is one of the most widespread sengis, occurring in forest, woodland, and thicket habitats in central and eastern Africa from the Democratic Republic of the Congo to northeastern South Africa. Although some generalized distribution maps for this species show the northern form, P. t. tordayi, crossing the Ubangi or Congo rivers into Congo, there is no indication that it actually occurs north of these rivers (Corbet and Neal 1965, Corbet and Hanks 1968). Although P. t. tetradactylus has been reported from the Caprivi Strip of Namibia, apparently there are no confirmed records. There are 10 named subspecies of P. tetradactylus, based only on subtle morphological traits and distribution. Some of these forms, such as P. t. sangi, may be threatened due to a highly restricted distribution and habitat destruction, but an updated taxonomic revision (based on molecular genetics as well as morphology and distribution) is needed to determine the validity of the current systematics.
Countries occurrence:
Congo, The Democratic Republic of the; Kenya; Malawi; Mozambique; Rwanda; South Africa; Tanzania, United Republic of; Zambia; Zimbabwe
Estimated area of occupancy (AOO) - km2: 2485700
Number of Locations: 5700000
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: Although widespread, the species is often only locally common. Little information is available on densities, but there is no evidence that it is abundant. In Afzelia habitat within Arabuko-Sokoke Forest (Kenya), the estimated density was 1.2 animals/ha (FitzGibbon 1995). It often foot-drums and thus attracts the attention of people in suitable habitat, but sightings are almost always of individuals. This species builds and maintains characteristic and distinct paths through the leaf litter that are often composed of a straight series of clean oval patches, which can be used as an indicator of presence.
Current Population Trend: Unknown
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented: No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Occurs in forest, dense woodlands, and thickets (Jennings and Rathbun 2001), where animals probably form monogamous pairs (FitzGibbon 1995, Oxenham and Perrin 2009). Habitats usually with surface leaf litter, which makes it easy to identify their characteristic paths that are usually composed of a straight line of oval bare patches in the leaf litter.
Systems: Terrestrial
Movement patterns: Not a Migrant

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: FitzGibbon et al. (1995) documented subsistence hunting, which is assumed to continue to the present, but it is not known whether numbers taken are increasing or decreasing. Given the increase in the human population in coastal Kenya, one could assume that hunting pressure has increased.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): There are no major identified threats range-wide, although locally habitat loss and subsistence snaring may have impacts on some subpopulations. In Arabuko-Sokoke Forest, Kenya, FitzGibbon et al. (1995) estimated that the subsistence take for food was sustainable at the time of the study.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: The species occurs in protected areas, but these have not been tallied or assessed.

Citation: Rathbun, G.B. & FitzGibbon, C. 2015. Petrodromus tetradactylus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015: e.T42679A21290893. . Downloaded on 06 October 2015.
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