Washington, Sept 21 (ANI): Biologists may have discovered a new species of giant elephant shrew in Kenya.
"The new animal has grizzled, yellow-brown sides, shoulders, and back; maroon thighs; and a jet-black lower rump," National Geographic News quoted team member Raj Amin, a conservation biologist at the zoological society, as saying.
Biologist Grace Wambui stumbled across the odd animal in the mostly inaccessible Boni-Dodori coastal forest in northeastern Kenya.
The animal has big ears and eyes, thin legs, and a long, wiry tail. The mammals most likely live on a diet of insects, foraging under the leaf litter of the forest floor with their long noses.
The scientists also think they may have seen nests belonging to the species.
"The nests were usually well hidden beneath trees and shrubs, and [were] comprised of shallow depressions layered with dead leaves to make a small raised bump on the forest floor," Wambui said.
Elephant shrews are divided into two categories - small, soft furred elephant shrews and giant elephant shrews. They have more in common genetically with a group of African mammals that includes elephants, aardvarks, and golden moles.
However, Wambui and Amin are now concerned for the animal's safety, fearing that its habitat will be threatened by forest clearance and illegal logging activities.
"Protection is crucial," Amin said, "and a management plan needs to be developed with all the key stakeholders." (ANI)