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Keywords:

  • elephant-shrew;
  • sengi;
  • new species;
  • Rhynchocyon udzungwensis;
  • Macroscelidea;
  • Eastern Arc Mountains;
  • Udzungwa Mountains;
  • Tanzania

Abstract

A new species of sengi, or elephant-shrew, is described. It was discovered in the northern Udzungwa Mountains of Tanzania in 2005. Sengis (Order Macroscelidea, super-cohort Afrotheria) include four genera and 15 species of mammals that are endemic to Africa. This discovery is a significant contribution to the systematics of this small order. Based on 49 camera trap images, 40 sightings and five voucher specimens, the new sengi is diurnal and distinguished from the other three species of Rhynchocyon by a grizzled grey face, pale yellow to cream chest and chin, orange-rufous sides, maroon back and jet-black lower rump and thighs. The body weight of the new species is about 700 g, which is 25–50% greater than any other giant sengi. The new Rhynchocyon is only known from two populations that cover about 300 km2 of montane forest. It has an estimated density of 50–80 individuals km−2. This discovery has important implications for the conservation of the high biodiversity that is found in the forests of the Eastern Arc Mountains.