By Jeremy Hance
Gabon has lost most of its big meat-eaters including lions, spotted hyenas, and African wild dogs (although it's still home to a lot of leopards), but a new study focuses on the country's lesser-known species with an appetite for flesh. For the first time, researchers surveyed Gabon's small carnivores, including 12 species from the honey badger (Mellivora capensis) to the marsh mongoose (Atilax paludinosus).
The team—made up of scientists from Panthera, the Wildlife Conservation Society, University of Stirling, and other institutions—utilized camera trap photos from 16 different studies, comprehensive field data, and visits to booming bushmeat markets to find out what small carnivores are still found in Gabon.
During the work, the researchers documented two species—the common slender mongoose (Herpestes sanguineus) and Cameroon cusimanse (Crossarchus platycephalus)—never before recorded in Gabon. They also greatly widened the known range for the Egyptian mongoose (Herpestes ichneumon). However, the study, published in Small Carnivore Conservation, wasn't meant to just survey the country but also to see if these smaller predators are imperiled.
"[Small carnivores\ could be disappearing due to the bushmeat crisis sweeping through the region," says lead author, Laila Bahaa-el-Din who has also studied the African golden cat(Profelis aurata) in Gabon, one of the world's least known cat species. About twice the size of a house cat, the African golden cat was not included in this particular research. More....