Atherurus africanus 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Rodentia Hystricidae

Scientific Name: Atherurus africanus Gray, 1842
Common Name(s):
English African Brush-tailed Porcupine

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2016
Date Assessed: 2016-09-09
Assessor(s): Hoffmann, M. & Cox, N.
Reviewer(s): Amori, G.
Listed as Least Concern in view of its wide distribution, presumed large population, and because it is unlikely to be declining fast enough to qualify for listing in a more threatened category. The species' prevalence in wild meat markets is cause for concern, and requires careful monitoring.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:This species is distributed from Guinea, Sierra Leone and The Gambia in West Africa eastwards in forested regions to Kenya. It has been recorded from sea level to the Cameroon Highlands. The species is also found on Bioko Island. A record from east of Lake Tanganyika (Kingdon 1974) is not shown in Swynnerton and Hayman (1951) or Kingdon 1997. It has been recorded up to 3,000 m asl.
Countries occurrence:
Benin; Cameroon; Congo; Congo, The Democratic Republic of the; Côte d'Ivoire; Equatorial Guinea; Gabon; Gambia; Ghana; Guinea; Kenya; Liberia; Sierra Leone; Sudan; Togo; Uganda
Additional data:
Upper elevation limit (metres):3000
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:This species is not uncommon, but it is nocturnal and is rarely seen.
Current Population Trend:Unknown
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:It is found in rainforest and in forest along the edge waterways. It lives in holes in the roots of large trees, hollow logs, fallen branches, rock crevices, termite mounds and other similar places. It does not dig its own burrows. The species is a nocturnal, and solitary forager, although it dens communally in parties of two to six (sometimes more) animals.
It has a gestation length of 100 to 110 days, with a single young born (though Haltenorth and Diller [1980] mention up to four), in two to three litters per year. This species has a longevity of 15 years.
Generation Length (years):15

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: It is hunted for food.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): As with other African porcupines, this species can cause damage to crops and agricultural fields, favouring a number of cultivated roots and fruits, such as cassava, sweet potatoes, bananas and other fruits. It is subject to extensive exploitation for human consumption in much of its range (being a ground-dwelling, large-sized rodent, capable of producing up to 2 kg of meat), and in Gabon, Nigeria, Cameroon and Congo this is a favoured species in wild meat markets. (Jori et al. 1998). In Equatorial Guinea, a survey showed that the wild meat trade relied heavily on the Brush-tailed Porcupine and the Blue Duiker (Cephalophus monticola), with these two species accounting for more than one half of all carcasses brought to markets (Fa et al. 1995). Jori et al. (1998) report that the meat of this species is also often the most expensive meat in many African cities

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: It is known to occur in several protected areas, including Comoe National Park in Côte d'Ivoire and National Park of Upper Niger in Guinea. There has been extensive research into harvest levels (see Jori et al. 1998), as well as an investigation into the feasibility of farming these animals in Gabon (Jori et al. 1998). However, the low reproductive rates in captivity pose a problem.

Errata [top]

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

Classifications [top]

1. Forest -> 1.6. Forest - Subtropical/Tropical Moist Lowland
1. Forest -> 1.9. Forest - Subtropical/Tropical Moist Montane
14. Artificial/Terrestrial -> 14.1. Artificial/Terrestrial - Arable Land
14. Artificial/Terrestrial -> 14.3. Artificial/Terrestrial - Plantations

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
5. Biological resource use -> 5.1. Hunting & trapping terrestrial animals -> 5.1.1. Intentional use (species is the target)
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

3. Monitoring -> 3.1. Population trends

Bibliography [top]

Delany, M.J. 1975. The Rodents of Uganda. Trustees British Museum (Natural History), London, UK.

Fa, J.E., Juste, J., Perez del Val, J. and Castroviejo, J. 1995. Impact of market hunting on mammal species in Equatorial Guinea. Conservation Biology 9: 1107-1115.

Grubb, P., Jones, T.S., Davies, A.G., Edberg, E., Starin, E.D. and Hill, J.E. 1998. Mammals of Ghana, Sierra Leone and The Gambia. Trendrine Press, Zennor, St Ives, Cornwall, UK.

Haltenorth, T. and Diller, H. 1980. A field guide to the mammals of Africa including Madagascar. Collins, London, UK.

Happold, D.C.D. 1987. The Mammals of Nigeria. Oxford University Press, London, UK.

Happold, D.C.D. 1996. Mammals of the Guinea-Congo rain forest. Proceedings of the Royal Society of Edinburgh 104: 243-284.

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).

Jori, F., Lopez-béjar, M. and Houben, P. 1998. The biology and use of the African brush-tailed porcupine (Atherurus africanus, Gray, 1842) as a food animal. A review. Biodiversity and Conservation 7(11): 1417-1426.

Kingdon, J. 1974. East African Mammals. Academic Press, London, UK and New York, USA.

Kingdon, J. 1997. The Kingdon Field Guide to African Mammals. Academic Press, San Diego, California, USA.

Pacifici, M., Santini, L., Di Marco, M., Baisero, D., Francucci, L., Grottolo Marasini, G., Visconti, P. and Rondinini, C. 2013. Generation length for mammals. Nature Conservation 5: 87–94.

Swynnerton, G.H. and Hayman, R.W. 1951. A Checklist of the Land Mammals of the Tanganyika Territory and the Zanzibar Protectorate. Journal of the East Africa Natural History Society 20(6): 274-392.

Citation: Hoffmann, M. & Cox, N. 2016. Atherurus africanus (errata version published in 2017). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T2353A115061551. . Downloaded on 26 May 2018.
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