The scientific community knew Somali sengi elephant-shrews once roamed parts of Africa. There were examples -- some gathered hundreds of years ago -- in museum collections. It's just that no scientist had logged one in the wild since the late 1960s.
Good news for elephant-shrews: The Somali sengi is alive and well in Djibouti, and there's plenty of proof.
GWC released the first scientific documentation of a live Somali sengi in the form of a photo showing the mouse-like animal standing on some rocks. The insect-eater has a trunk-like nose and is more closely related to elephants than actual shrews.
The research team caught an elusive Somali sengi in a trap baited with peanut butter, oatmeal and yeast.
Association Djibouti Nature research ecologist Houssein Rayaleh was aware the Somali sengi was still out there. "For us living in Djibouti, and by extension the Horn of Africa, we never considered the sengis to be 'lost,'" he said in a Q&A with GWC. "But this new research does bring the Somali sengi back into the scientific community, which we value."
The Somali sengis appeared to be safe in their habitat, a range that crosses from Somalia to Djibouti. The research team has recommended the small mammals be granted a "least concern" status on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
"For Djibouti," said Rayaleh, "it is an important story that highlights the great biodiversity of the country and the region and shows that there are opportunities for new science and research here."