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First survey of the small mammal predators of Gabon

13/10/2013 07:17:32
world/Africa_13/wcs_gabon_mongoose

The Cameroon cusimanse (illustrated) and the common slender mongoose were previously undocumented in Gabon. Photo credit WCS

Mongooses, genets and civets
September 2013. Working in the rainforest of Central Africa-a region known for its diversity of wildlife-a team of researchers from Panthera, the Wildlife Conservation Society, University of Stirling, CENAREST, IRET and others has completed the first-ever survey in Gabon on a previously overlooked animal group: small mammal predators.

Camera traps, bushmeat and observations
The team compiled information from camera-trap surveys, direct observations and bushmeat studies, mapped the country-wide distribution of 12 carnivore species, including mongooses, genets, and civets, in the first comprehensive assessment of such animals in the country. The study appeared in the July edition of Small Carnivore Conservation, the journal of the IUCN small carnivore specialist group.

"Many previous studies have focused on the larger species of Gabon's rainforests," said Laila Bahaa-el-Din, lead author of the study. "None of these efforts have focused on the country-wide status and distribution of smaller predators, species that could be disappearing due to the bushmeat crisis sweeping through the region."

The research team collected images and data from 33 wildlife surveys and 16 camera trap studies for the study. Other methods used in the research included bushmeat hunting records with information on specific locations, and fecal DNA records generated from research in Moukalaba-Doudou National Park.

First records for Gabon
Of the 12 small carnivores detected in the study, a few-specifically the Cameroon cusimanse and the common slender mongoose-were previously undocumented in Gabon. The study also produced a range-extension for the Egyptian mongoose. All 12 species are currently listed as "Least Concern" in the IUCN's Red List of Threatened Species.

"This first comprehensive assessment of Gabon's small predators is an important step in understanding the needs of these overlooked but important animals," said WCS researcher Fiona Maisels, a co-author on the paper. "It appears that these species are widespread and not currently threatened, but the proximity of many small carnivores to human settlements and the growing bushmeat trade could potentially impact these populations. These new findings will help inform future management."

The authors include: Laila Bahaa-el-Din of Panthera, Oxford University, and the University of Kwazulu-Natal; Philipp Henschel of Panthera; Rostand Abaa formerly of the Wildlife Conservation Society and now with the Gabon National Parks agency; Kate Abernethy of the University of Stirling and the Institut de Recherche en Ecologie Tropicale; Torsten Bohm of the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research; Nicholas Bout of the Wildlife Conservation Society and the Aspinall Foundation; Lauren Coad of Oxford University; Josephine Head of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology; Eiji Inoue of Kyoto University; Sally Lahm of the Institute de Recherche en Ecologie Tropicale; Michelle E. Lee of Oxford University and the Institute de Recherche en Ecologie Tropicale; Fiona Maisels of the Wildlife Conservation Society and the University of Stirling; Luisa Rabanal of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology; Malcolm Starkey of the Wildlife Conservation Society; Gemma Taylor of Oxford University; Hadrien Vanthomme of the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute; Yoshihiro Nakashima of Kyoto University; and Luke Hunter of Panthera.

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