The Golden-rumped sengi is also known as “the elephant-shrew” which refers to the animals’ small size and extraordinarily long, flexible trunks.
Recent studies indicate that they are not closely related to shrews at all, but are in fact distantly related to elephants. Sengis date to at least around 50 million years ago, with 19 extant species in four genera. The golden-rumped sengi is in the Rhynchocyon genus, which is known colloquially as the checkered elephant-shrews, or giant sengis, with three other species.
The golden-rumped sengi is one of the largest species of sengi. It can be identified by the bright yellow patch of fur on its rump. Unusually for such a small mammal this species is monogamous, and mates for life.
It has one of the most restricted ranges of any of the elephant-shrews, and is threatened by the destruction and fragmentation of its forest habitat.
- Order: Macroscelidea
- Family: Macroscelididae
- Population: 12,750
- Trend: decreasing
- Size: 28cm
- Weight: 540g
Endemic to Kenya, the sengi occurs in fragmented and small patches of forest. It exclusively inhabits the Malindi area; the Arabuko-Sokoke and Gede forests. The former represents the most important site for the species, providing approximately 420km2 of habitat and housing the vast majority of individuals.
Habitat and Ecology
The golden-rumped sengi inhabit coastal dens scrub forest and lowland semi-deciduous forest. They are insectivorous, prey species include earthworms, millipedes, beetles and termites, using their long noses to probe the leaf litter and their forefeet to dig out their prey. They are monogamous, and mate for life, throughout the year, producing a single young after a gestation period of 40 days. The life expectancy for the species is around 4-5 years. It is predated by harriers (Circus sp.) and snakes such as black mambas (Dendroaspis polylepis) and forest cobras (Naja melanoleuca). The species appears to have a commensal relationship with red-capped robin-chats (Cossypha natalensis). These birds follow the elephant-shrews through the forest and feed on invertebrates that they leave behind.