Facts
  • Endemic to Kenya and occurs in fragmented and small patches of forest from Mombasa, north to the Boni Forest near the Somali border.
  • Elephant-shrews are so named because they superficially resemble large shrews with long flexible snouts.
  • The golden-rumped elephant-shrew is one of the largest species of elephant-shrew, being about the size of a small cat. It can be identified by the distinctive golden patch of fur on its rump.
  • Unusually for such a small mammal this species is monogamous, and forms pairs that change only when one individual dies.
  • Recent studies indicate that elephant-shrews are in fact distantly related to elephants.
Threats
  • The species is threatened primarily by habitat destruction. Its forest habitat has become highly fragmented, and most remaining areas are thought to be too small to support viable populations.
  • The only sizeable area of forest in which the species occurs is under pressure from forestry practices such as tree and pole cutting, and encroachment for agriculture.
  • Elephant-shrews are known to shelter from predators in hollow trees. However, many of the trees favoured by the species are being removed by woodcarvers who supply the tourist industry with carvings of African wildlife. The removal of these trees may make the elephant-shrews more vulnerable to natural predators as well as introduced species such as dogs.
  • The animals are also trapped and eaten by local people, which might be affecting their numbers.
Conservation Required
  • Habitat protection
  • Carry out field surveys to determine the status and conservation needs of the species, especially north of the Tana River, Kenya.
  • Monitor the effect of subsistence hunting If trapping is to continue then it must be managed to ensure it is sustainable; otherwise the species should receive complete protection.
  • There is some evidence that elephant-shrews may adapt to altered habitats, provided there is suitable cover, leaf litter and plentiful invertebrates. Such reports need to be investigated as they will have an influence on the development of conservation programmes.
  • If the population of the golden-rumped elephant shrew is found to be critically low then attempts should be made to improve husbandry techniques so that this species may also be bred in captivity.


Proposed Actions

EDGE aims to determine the status and population size of the golden-rumped elephant shrew in Boni Forest on the Kenya/Somali border.

The golden-rumped elephant shrew is one of the largest species of elephant shrew. It is endemic to Kenya and occurs in fragmented and small patches of forest from Mombasa, north to the Boni Forest on the Somali border. It has one of the most restricted ranges of any of the elephant shrews, and is threatened by the destruction and fragmentation of its forested habitat.

The species occurs mainly in the 420 km² Arabuko-Sokoke Forest in Kenya, which is protected and managed by the Forest Department and Kenya Wildlife Service. However, there is also an immediate need for additional field surveys to determine the status and conservation needs of the species in other areas.

EDGE researchers aim to assess the status and population size of the golden-rumped elephant-shrew in the Boni Forest and gather extensive data on the threat processes impacting this population. They will investigate reports that elephant-shrews may adapt to altered habitats, provided there is suitable cover and plentiful invertebrates, as this will have an influence on the development of conservation programmes. The study will conclude with the production of a Conservation Action Plan for the Boni Forest elephant-shrew population.

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Associated Blog Posts
25th Nov 14
Plans to conduct exploratory gas and oil surveys within Arabuko-Sokoke Forest, Kenya, have been suspended following fierce opposition from conservationis...  Read

16th Sep 10
When Kenyan EDGE Fellow Grace Wambui was awarded an EDGE Fellowship to study the golden-rumped elephant-shrew, she had little idea that she would discover a ...  Read

18th Jul 10
EDGE mammal number 46, the remarkable golden-rumped elephant-shrew, is the Species of the Day! Elephant-shrews (or sengi's) are so-named because they have...  Read

16th Jun 08
Our Kenyan EDGE Fellow, Grace Ngaruiya, studies the Endangered golden-rumped elephant shrew (Rhynchocyon chrysopygus). She has carried out transect surveys i...  Read

27th May 08
Grace Ngaruiya, our Kenyan EDGE Fellow who works on the golden-rumped elephant shrew, recently went to Boni National Reserve in Kenya to search for this el...  Read