Its distribution is among the most restricted of any of the elephant-shrews. It is endemic to Kenya and occurs in fragmented and small patches of forest. Recent research indicates the species exclusively inhabits the Malindi area i.e. Arabuko-Sokoke and Gede forests. The former represents the most important site for the species, providing approximately 420 km² of habitat and housing the vast majority of individuals. The Boni forest population is now deemed to consist of a new and un-described species, a subject that requires additional research.
The most recent population estimates, complete in 2007/08 suggest a major population of around 12,750 individuals in the Arabuko Sokoke forest region. An additional small population of just over 20 individuals was recorded within the Gede forest area.
Populations densities in the Arabuko-Sokoke Forest decreased by c. 30% between 1993 and 1996 from an estimated 20,000 to 14,000 individuals. Whilst populations continue to decline within at least two disturbed regions inside the Arabuko forest, increases in the Cynometra zone have been reported due to regeneration of the area after a decade old disturbance. Additionally the Gede forest population, which decreased from around 70 individuals in the 1970s to just 15 in the mid 90s has shown a gradual increase in size to over 20. This has resulted from the construction of new fencing to prevent unmonitored entry to the site.
This project supports in-country EDGE Fellows to help conserve relevant EDGE species
The IUCN has produced a Conservation Action Plan for this species which recommends that the conservation strategy should be aimed primarily at protecting the species’ habitat. There is also an immediate need for additional field surveys to determine the status and conservation needs of the species. The effect of subsistence hunting on the species should be monitored. 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. There have been some recent successes in captive breeding of the black and rufous elephant-shrew (R. petersi), indicating that it is possible to maintain giant elephant-shrews in captivity. 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.
Galen is the Chair of the IUCN SSC Afrotheria Specialist Group
Grace works on the Golden rumped elephant shrew in Kenya.
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