Good news for animal lovers! The elephant shrew has been spotted in Africa by a team of scientists for the first time in 50 years.
This little known mammal is neither a shrew nor an elephant. However, they are a distant relative of elephants, aardvarks, and manatees.
Steven Heritage, a research scientist at the Duke University Lemur Center in Durham, US, and a member of the expedition to the Horn of Africa in 2019, said he was thrilled to put the species “back on the radar”.
He told the BBC: “We were really excited and elated when we opened the first trap that had an elephant shrew in it.”
“We did not know which species occurred in Djibouti and when we saw the diagnostic feature of a little tufted tail, we looked at each other and we knew that it was something special.”
Now, scientists are working to understand what risks the shrews face, and how they can be better protected.
“Usually when we rediscover lost species, we find just one or two individuals and have to act quickly to try to prevent their imminent extinction,” said Robin Moore of Global Wildlife Conservation.
“This is a welcome and wonderful rediscovery during a time of turmoil for our planet, and one that fills us with renewed hope for the remaining small mammal species on our most-wanted list.”