By Christine Dell'Amore
For the first time, a team surveyed the west African country for its small carnivores, a group traditionally overlooked by scientists. The investigation turned up 12 species, including badgers, mongooses, civets, and genets.
For their study, the researchers compiled data from animal sightings; studies of bush meat, or wildlife killed for food; and remotely triggered camera traps. (Also read about a National Geographic expedition to Gabon.)
“A lot of the mammals here are quite curious, and all sorts of species come and put their noses up against the cameras,” study co-author Laila Bahaa-el-Din of Panthera, a big-cat conservation group, said by email. (See the best camera-trap pictures of 2012.)
“A honey badger once turned a camera around, and an African golden cat turned one off.”
Badgers, Mongooses, and More
More than 80 percent of Gabon is covered in dense tropical rain forest, and the bigger animals that live in them—such as the great apes, forest elephants, leopards, and African golden cats—have been well documented. Nearly 10 percent of the country’s land is protected. (See pictures of National Geographic Explorer Mike Fay’s “megatransect” of Gabon.)
So the scientists weren’t surprised to find such a high diversity of small carnivores, noted Philipp Henschel, Panthera’s lion survey coordinator, by email.
The most frequently recorded carnivore was the servaline genet (above), which lives throughout the country. More....