Tachyoryctes macrocephalus 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Rodentia Spalacidae

Scientific Name: Tachyoryctes macrocephalus (Rüppell, 1842)
Common Name(s):
English Giant Mole Rat

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Endangered B1ab(iii) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2016
Date Assessed: 2016-04-06
Assessor(s): Lavrenchenko, L. & Kennerley, R.
Reviewer(s): Amori, G.
Contributor(s): Corti, M.
Tachyoryctes macrocephalus is endemic to Ethiopia. It is assessed as Endangered because its extent of occurrence is approximately 5,140 km², all individuals are in fewer than five locations, and there is continuing decline in the extent and quality of its habitat by overgrazing by domestic livestock.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:This species is restricted to the Bale Mountains of Ethiopia. It has been recorded from 3,000 to 4,150 m asl.
Countries occurrence:
Additional data:
Number of Locations:0-5
Lower elevation limit (metres):3000
Upper elevation limit (metres):4150
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:It is quite common within its restricted range. In Bale Mountains National Park the mean estimated population density was 6,545 animals/km² (Yaba 2007) and in a more recent study 2,000-4,800 animals/km² (Gemechu 2010).
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:It is an inhabitant of alpine grassland habitats. The species has been observed in Erica vegetation which had been affected by fire two or three years previously (Jira et al. 2013).
Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat:Yes

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Overgrazing of its habitat by domestic livestock, both within and outside of the Bale Mountains National Park, is considered to be a threat (Leonid Lavrenchenko pers. comm. 2016). Studies have had mixed results- in a short-term study there was no effect on populations of several species, including Tachyoryctes macrocephalus, in areas where grazers were excluded (Vial et al. 2011), but livestock grazing did effect the species in a more recent study (Fekdu et al. 2015) and other studies have recommended the reduction of grazing (Gemechu 2010).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: The majority of the species' range is within the Bale Mountains National Park. There is a general need to maintain suitable grassland habitat for this species.

Errata [top]

Errata reason: This errata assessment has been created because the map was accidentally left out of the version published previously.

Classifications [top]

4. Grassland -> 4.7. Grassland - Subtropical/Tropical High Altitude
2. Land/water management -> 2.1. Site/area management

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
  Conservation sites identified:Yes, over entire range
In-Place Species Management
In-Place Education
2. Agriculture & aquaculture -> 2.3. Livestock farming & ranching -> 2.3.1. Nomadic grazing
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

2. Agriculture & aquaculture -> 2.3. Livestock farming & ranching -> 2.3.2. Small-holder grazing, ranching or farming
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

1. Research -> 1.2. Population size, distribution & trends
1. Research -> 1.3. Life history & ecology
1. Research -> 1.5. Threats
3. Monitoring -> 3.1. Population trends

Bibliography [top]

Fekdu, A., Bekele, A. and Datiko, D. 2015. Comparative study of species composition, relative abundance and distribution of rodents between exclosure and control sites in the Web Valley of the Bale Mountains National Park, Ethiopia. Punjab University Journal of Zoology 30(2): 057-064.

Gemechu, A. 2010. The Giant Mole Rat, Tachyoryctes macrocephalus (Rüppell, 1942) as Ecosystem Engineer, in Sanetti plateau of Bale Mountains National Park, South Ethiopia. Faculty of Science Graduate studies. Master of Science in Ecological and Systematic Zoology, Addis Ababa University.

IUCN. 2016. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2016-3. Available at: (Accessed: 07 December 2016).

IUCN. 2017. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2017-1. Available at: (Accessed: 27 April 2017).

Jira, G., Bekela, A., Hemson, G., Mundanthra, B. 2013. Rodents in fire affected heather shrublands in Bale Mountains National Park, Ethiopia. Journal of King Saud University - Science 25(4): 289-295.

Musser, G.G. and Carleton, M.D. 2005. Superfamily Muroidea. In: D.E. Wilson and D.A. Reeder (eds), Mammal Species of the World: a geographic and taxonomic reference, pp. 894-1531. The John Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, USA.

Sillero-Zubiri, C., Tattersall, F.H., and Macdonald, D.W. 1995. Habitat selection and daily activity of giant molerats (Tachyoryctes macrocephalus): significance to the Ethiopian wolf (Canis simensis) in the Afroalpine ecosystem. Biological Conservation 72: 77-84.

Vial, F., Macdonald, D.W., and Haydon, D.T. 2011. Response of endemic afroalpine rodents to the removal of livestock grazing pressure. Current Zoology 57(6): 741-750.

Yaba, M. 2007. Ecology of the Giant Molerat, Tachyoryctes macrocephalus (Rüppell, 1842) with emphasis on the feeding ecology from the Sanetti Plateau of Bale Mountains National Park (BMNP), Ethiopia. School of Graduate Studies. Degree of Master of Science in Ecological and Systematic Zoology, Addis Ababa University.

Yalden, D. W. 1985. Tachyoryctes macrocephalus. Mammalian Species 237: 1-3.

Yalden, D.W. and Largen, M.J. 1992. The endemic mammals of Ethiopia. Mammal Review 22: 115-150.

Yalden, D.W., Largen, M.J. and Kock, D. 1976. Catalogue of the mammals of Ethiopia. 2. Insectivora and Rodentia. Monitore zoologico italiano/Italian Journal of Zoology, N.S. Supplemento 8(1): 1-118.

Yalden, D.W., Largen, M.J., Kock, D. and Hillman, J.C. 1996. Catalogue of the Mammals of Ethiopia and Eritrea. 7. Revised checklist, zoogeography and conservation. Tropical Zoology 9(1): 73-164.

Citation: Lavrenchenko, L. & Kennerley, R. 2016. Tachyoryctes macrocephalus (errata version published in 2017). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T21293A115161321. . Downloaded on 24 April 2018.
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