Overview

Distribution

Dendrohyrax arboreus is found in Africa along the southeastern coast. Its range extends southward from Kenya and Uganda to South Africa, and from eastern portions of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Zambia in the west to the eastern coast of the continent.

Biogeographic Regions: ethiopian (Native )

  • Kingdon, J. 1971. East African Mammals: An Atlas of Evolution in Africa, Volume I. London: Academic Press Inc..
  • Lawes, M., P. Mealin, S. Piper. 2000. Patch occupancy and potential metapopulation dynamics of three forest mammals in fragmented afromontane forest in South Africa. Conservation Biology, 14/4: 1088-1098.
  • Smithers, R. 1966. The Mammals of Rhodesia, Zambia and Malawi. London: Collins Clear-Type Press.
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Range Description

This species has a restricted and patchy geographic range, being limited to montane forests on the slopes of Mt Kilimanjaro and Mt Meru, the Eastern Arc Mountains, and coastal forests of Tanzania, southern Kenya and offshore islands, including Pemba, Zanzibar and Tumbatu (Roberts et al. in press).
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Range Description

Patchily distributed in forested areas of central and eastern mainland Africa, from central Kenya as far south as the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal provinces of South Africa, west to north-east Angola. Not recorded from Botswana, Zimbabwe or the Limpopo Province of South Africa (Milner and Gaylard in press).
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Physical Description

Morphology

D. arboreus has a somewhat marmot-like or guinea pig-like appearance. Long, soft, grey-brown fur covers the body, while the underside is paler. Hairs are lighter near their tips. The ears have a fringe of white hair. A dorsal gland is conspicuous in the middle of the back as it is ringed by creamy white hairs (total length 23-30 mm). D. arboreus lacks an obvious external tail.

These animals weigh about 2.27 kg on average, and have an average length of 520 mm. The BMR for this species is reported to be somewhat low for its size.

Four sub-species are recognized: D. arboreus stuhlmanni, D. arboreus crawshayi, D. arboreus ruwenzorii, and D. arboreus aldofi-friederici. Ranges overlap, although some habitat differentiation has been reported where the sub-species co-occur.

Average mass: 2.27 kg.

Average length: 520 mm.

Sexual Dimorphism: male larger

Other Physical Features: endothermic ; bilateral symmetry

Average mass: 3000 g.

  • Jones, C. 1984. Tubulidentates, Proboscideans, and Hyracoideans. Pp. 523-535 in S Anderson, J Jones, Jr., eds. Orders and Families of Recent Mammals of the World. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons, Inc..
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Type Information

Lectotype for Dendrohyrax arboreus
Catalog Number: USNM 18986
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Mammals
Sex/Stage: Male; Adult
Preparation: Skin; Skull
Collector(s): W. Abbott
Year Collected: 1888
Locality: Mount Kilimanjaro, Kilimanjaro, Tanzania, Africa
  • Lectotype: True, F. W. 1890 Sep 16. Proceedings of the United States National Museum. 13: 228.
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Ecology

Habitat

D. arboreus lives in forested areas that contain a mix of older and younger trees. The variety of forested environments it inhabits ranges from alpine, montane, highland, lowland, and riverine forests. It may be found at elevations up to 4500 m.

Range elevation: o to 4500 m.

Habitat Regions: temperate ; tropical ; terrestrial

Terrestrial Biomes: savanna or grassland ; forest ; rainforest ; scrub forest ; mountains

Other Habitat Features: riparian

  • Milner, J., S. Harris. 1999a. Activity patterns and feeding behaviour of the tree hyrax, Dendrohyrax arboreus, in the Parc National des Volcans, Rwanda. African Journal of Ecology, 37: 267-280.
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Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
Occurs in moist lowland and montane forest, from sea level to 3,070 m (Roberts et al. in press). The species appears to be susceptible to habitat disturbance. In the Udzungwa Mts, logging has a significant impact on population numbers, especially where hunting also occurs (Topp-Jørgensen and Pedersen 2001). In disturbed forests, individuals call less frequently. Overall, high population densities (i.e., based on calling frequency) appear to be linked to isolated, undisturbed forest patches. This would agree with the findings of Kundaeli (1976) on Mt Kilimanjaro: highest densities were estimated at an elevation of 2,310 m, where disturbance from logging was low.

Systems
  • Terrestrial
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Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
The species occurs in forested and well-wooded areas. In South Africa, occurs in Afromontane forests and thickets of the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal provinces (Lawes et al. 2000). At the western coastal limit occurs in milkwood-dominated coastal forests (Gaylard 1994), while further north in central Mozambique it occurs in lowland evergreen forests and in the evergreen riverine forests of the Save River (Smithers and Lobão Tello 1976). In East Africa, in the Ngorongoro Crater, Serengeti National Park and Maasai Mara Game Reserve, they are found in fig trees and in the riverine forests (H. Hoeck pers. comm.); they also occur in drier Acacia woodland and in rocky alpine and sub-alpine habitats. Throughout their range, dependent on tree cavities, epiphytes or dense matted forest vegetation for shelter. A decrease in numbers in southern Africa has been attributed to loss of structure within habitat, rather than forest size (Castley and Kerley 1993). The biology and life-history of the species is summarized by Milner and Gaylard (in press).

Systems
  • Terrestrial
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Trophic Strategy

D. arboreus is generally folivorous. However, other plant parts constitute a large proportion of its diet. It is a selective browser, eating a combination of foods to maintain a delicate energy balance, not necessarily in proportion to the item’s abundance. Nearly 150 individual plant species were identified from fecal remains of D. arboreus in South Africa. The most commonly eaten species may constitute a low of 38% of the total diet, and two dozen species may only constitute 75% of all material eaten.

Different parts of plants are consumed by D. arboreus. These include leaves, petioles (discarding the leaf), twigs, shoots, fleshy fruit, and hard seeds. Individual species are too many to list, but Hagenia abyssinica, Hypericum revolutum, Ficus spp., and Podocarpus falcatus are common.

Plant Foods: leaves; wood, bark, or stems; seeds, grains, and nuts; fruit

Primary Diet: herbivore (Folivore )

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Associations

Southern tree hyraxes disperse the seeds of fruits they eat. Their waste products contain high amounts of calcium carbonate, which eventually form "outcroppings" and may play a role in localized nutrient cycling. As hyraxes generally are the major prey of Verreaux eagles, D. arboreus may have a significant impact on this species. Finally, as cavity-dwellers, they may provide structural components of forests.

Ecosystem Impact: disperses seeds; creates habitat

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Verreaux eagles subsist almost entirely on hyraxes. Additionally, Martial and Tawny eagles, leopards, lions, jackals, spotted hyenas, and snakes prey upon hyraxes. In Rwanda, the most common predators are feral dogs. It has been speculated that the exceptionally limited amount of time D. arboreus spends on the ground at night may be a predator avoidance strategy to avoid the dogs. Humans are also known to eat D. arboreus.

Known Predators:

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Life History and Behavior

Behavior

D. arboreus has a prominent scent-gland, which may be used in marking territory or communicating. The large "latrines" under their den trees clearly demarcate use of a home range.

Throughout their range, southern tree hyraxes are particularly well known for their nighttime screaming. During the dry season, males will call in the early morning hours (between 2 an 4 AM). There appears to be a social communicative function to these calls. "Each animal builds up to a strained crescendo of screams and a calling animal appears to initiate responses from its neighbours so that on a suitable night there may be concert periods of croaking screams ringing out through the forest." (Kingdon 1971, p.328)

A clear interpretation of this behavior has not been made: there was no correlation between frequency, intensity, duration, initiation time of calls, or environmental variables. Breeding activities were not investigated in tandem with calling behavior. One interpretation is that calling follows intense feeding periods but is linked to territoriality and sexual function.

Some tactile communication undoubtedly occurs between mothers and their young, as well as between mates. Although these animals can see, it is not known whether they use any visual signals in their communication.

Communication Channels: tactile ; acoustic ; chemical

Other Communication Modes: choruses ; scent marks

Perception Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; chemical

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Life Expectancy

Hoeck reports the longevity for the genus Dendrohyrax as "10 years plus." A captive female, pregnant when brought into captivity, lived at least four additional years, though her lifespan after the study ended is not reported.

Average lifespan

Status: wild:
10 years.

Average lifespan

Status: wild:
10.0 years.

Average lifespan

Status: captivity:
12.3 years.

  • Hoeck, H. 2001. Hyraxes. Pp. 448-451 in D Macdonald, S Norris, eds. The New Encyclopedia of Mammals. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
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Lifespan, longevity, and ageing

Maximum longevity: 13.6 years (captivity) Observations: One wild born specimen was at least 13.6 years of age when it died in captivity (Richard Weigl 2005).
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Reproduction

Milner and Harris (1999b) reported that they were unable to determine the mating system of D. arboreus, but speculate that it may be facultative monogamy/polygyny, similar to some folivorous marsupial or primate species. Nonetheless, "it was quite apparent that their social system was very different from that of the colonial rock and bush hyrax." (Milner and Harris 1999b, p.292)

During an activity study of radio-collared animals, two male-female pairs had similar activity patterns and ranges, suggesting to the authors that either seasonal or longer-lasting bonds were indicated.

Mating System: monogamous ; polygynous

Breeding may occur throughout the year for D. arboreus, as evidenced by juveniles of several sizes simultaneously present in one population in Rwanda. A captive D. arboreus male-female pair produced offspring in June from a pregnancy that began before captivity and in December each year thereafter. One to two young (more often two) were born each time, and suckling began within a few hours, although the time to weaning steadily decreased from 7 months for the first litter to 3 months for the last birth.

Breeding interval: Captive D. arboreus breeds once yearly.

Breeding season: Breeding seasons have not been observed.

Range number of offspring: 1 to 2.

Average number of offspring: 2.

Average gestation period: 7 months.

Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; year-round breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; viviparous

Average birth mass: 380 g.

Average gestation period: 229 days.

Average number of offspring: 2.

Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)

Sex: male:
365 days.

Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)

Sex: female:
365 days.

There is very limited information on parental investment in D. arboreus. Mothers may nurse for 3 to 7 months, and it is presumed that the young would den with their mother during this time. Individuals with deciduous teeth remaining, presumably juveniles, were observed to be solitary during a radio-collar study. However, one group, consisting of an adult, two sub-adults, and a juvenile were repeatedly found in each other's company also. This may indicate some parental investment once the young leave the den.

One account reported that offspring may eat solid food beginning their second or third day.

Parental Investment: no parental involvement; precocial ; female parental care ; pre-fertilization (Protecting: Female); pre-hatching/birth (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female); pre-weaning/fledging (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female); pre-independence; post-independence association with parents

  • Gaylard, A., G. Kerley. 1997. Diet of tree hyraxes Dendrohyrax arboreus (Hyracoidea: Procaviidae) in the Eastern Cape, South Africa. Journal of Mammalogy, 78/1: 213-221.
  • Milner, J., S. Harris. 1999a. Activity patterns and feeding behaviour of the tree hyrax, Dendrohyrax arboreus, in the Parc National des Volcans, Rwanda. African Journal of Ecology, 37: 267-280.
  • Milner, J., S. Harris. 1999b. Habitat use and ranging behaviour of tree hyrax, Dendrohyrax arboreus, in the Virunga Volcanoes, Rwanda. African Journal of Ecology, 37: 281-294.
  • Rudnai, J. 1984a. Suckling behaviour in captive Dendrohyrax arboreus (Mammalia: Hyracoidea). South African Journal of Zoology, 19/2: 121-123.
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage: Dendrohyrax arboreus

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 1
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

The IUCN lists D. arboreus in South Africa as VU B1+2 status as of 1996, meaning it is vulnerable ("a high risk of extinction in the wild in the medium-term future"), due habitat fragmentation and continued population decline. In fact, there have been recent studies documenting the habitat needs of D. arboreus in an effort to curb its decline.

US Federal List: no special status

CITES: no special status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: least concern

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IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
LC
Least Concern

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2008

Assessor/s
Hoeck, H. & Hoffmann, M.

Reviewer/s
Rathbun, G. (Afrotheria Red List Authority) & Hoffmann, M. (Global Mammal Assessment Team)

Contributor/s

Justification
Listed as Least Concern in view of its presumed large population and local abundance, its occurrence in a number of protected areas, and because it is unlikely to be declining fast enough to qualify for listing in a more threatened category. However, the species is evidently very susceptible to logging, as well as hunting, and the situation needs to be closely monitored to determine if this species should be re-assessed to Near Threatened in the future, based on decline under criterion A.
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IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
LC
Least Concern

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2008

Assessor/s
Barry, R., Bloomer, P., Hoeck, H. & Shoshani, H. (IUCN SSC Afrotheria Specialist Group)

Reviewer/s
Rathbun, G. (Afrotheria Red List Authority) & Hoffmann, M. (Global Mammal Assessment Team)

Contributor/s

Justification
Listed as Least Concern in view of its wide distribution, presumed large population, its occurrence in a number of protected areas, and because it is unlikely to be declining fast enough to qualify for listing in a more threatened category. However, forest habitat in eastern and southern Africa is under severe threat from removal and degradation. The situation needs to be closely monitored to determine if this species should be re-assessed to Near Threatened in the future, based on decline under criterion A.

History
  • 2006
    Least Concern
    (IUCN 2006)
  • 2006
    Least Concern
  • 1996
    Lower Risk/least concern
    (Baillie and Groombridge 1996)
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Population

Population
Locally abundant. They are rarely seen, but can frequently be heard calling. Based on Circular Plot Counts of calls, densities of up to 17 individuals/ha have been estimated in undisturbed, closed-canopy forest on the Udzungwa Mts (Topp-Jørgensen and Pedersen 2001).

Population Trend
Decreasing
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Population

Population
Southern Tree Hyraxes spend long periods inactive in the high canopy or tree holes and so often escape notice. They are locally abundant in the Virunga Mts (13.4/ha; Milner and Harris 1999) and Ruwenzori Mts, where they live at a high density. In southern Africa, where D. arboreus is considered rare (Lawes et al. 2000), relative density has been estimated by means of counts of latrines in cavity trees (i.e. Catch Per Unit Effort; Gaylard 1994): 0.07[rn]0.29 latrines/man hour searching were found in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa.

Population Trend
Unknown
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Threats

Major Threats
The main threats to this species are severe forest loss and fragmentation (mainly due to logging and burning), and hunting. Although individuals can persist in closed-canopy forests of less than one square kilometre, logging, including selective logging of large trees, removes potential shelter trees, destroys arboreal pathways and makes animals more vulnerable and prone to ground trapping (Roberts et al. in press). Eastern Tree Hyraxes are hunted for their meat and skins (to make blankets or karosses, which can still be found for sale in Arusha), and easily trapped using snares set at the head of runnels (pathways through the undergrowth) near the base of a tree. They may also be clubbed, speared, or run down by dogs having been ‘smoked out’ or following the felling of a den tree (a common method employed in the Udzungwa Mts) (Topp-Jørgensen and Pedersen 2001).
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Major Threats
The main threats include forest clearing and snaring for meat and skins (Milner and Gaylard in press). Many forest patches are too small to maintain viable populations (Lawes et al. 2000).
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
Occurs in a number of protected areas across its range, including Udzungwa Mts and Kilimanjaro National Parks, Arusha National Park and several forest reserves in the Eastern Arc Mts of Tanzania, such as Kindoroko and Nguru North Forest Reserves (see Cordeiro et al. 2005; Roberts et al. in press). The taxonomic status of this species relative to D. arboreus requires further investigation.
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Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
The species is present in a number of protected areas across its range, including of course Serengeti National Park.
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

It is possible that D. arboreus may be a minor nuisance to agriculturalists. There is also some chance that this species is part of the life cycle of parasites capable of infecting humans. A species of Dendrohyrax located in Kenya and Ethiopia harbors the leishmaniasis-causing parasites.

Negative Impacts: injures humans (carries human disease); crop pest

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D. arboreus has economic importance to humans in a number of different ways. The crystallized excrement of this species has been used by both Europeans and South African tribes as a medicinal to treat epilepsy, hysteria, St. Vitus's dance, and general injuries. It has also been used as a vitamin supplement. Humans hunt Dendrohyrax spp. for food, and it is said that their large liver is a delicacy. Finally, the fur of this species may have some value, as the pelts of other members of the genus, such as D. arboreus, are used near Mt. Kilimanjaro. The fur of tree hyraxes is generally quite soft.

Positive Impacts: food ; body parts are source of valuable material; source of medicine or drug ; produces fertilizer

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Wikipedia

Southern tree hyrax

The southern tree hyrax(Dendrohyrax arboreus) or also known as the eastern tree dassie, eastern tree hyrax, southern tree dassie is a species of mammal in the family Procaviidae. The southern tree hyrax is mainly found in the south central eastern side of Africa.

Physical Description[edit]

The southern tree hyrax has a guinea pig-like appearance. It has long, soft, grey-brown fur that covers the body, while the underside is paler. Hairs are lighter near their tips and the ears have a fringe of white hair. They weigh about 2.27 kg on average, and have an average length of 520 mm.

Range and Habitat[edit]

It is found in Angola, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe. Its natural habitats are temperate forests, subtropical or tropical dry forests, subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests, subtropical or tropical moist montane forests, moist savanna, and rocky areas. It may be found at elevations up to 4500 m[3][4]

Arboreal Behavior[edit]

The tree hyrax lives in trees and is mostly nocturnal, as opposed to the rock hyrax which lives among rocks and is mainly diurnal. It occurs singly, in pairs or in small groups, favouring hollow trees and dense foliage. Though an extremely able climber, it is awkward on the ground and walks with some difficulty. Its extraordinary call, heard mainly at night, is a series of blood-curdling shrieks building up to a crescendo. These territorial calls are produced mainly by the males.[5]

Predation[edit]

Martial and Tawny eagles, leopards, lions, jackals, spotted hyenas, and snakes prey upon the southern tree hyrax. In Rwanda, the most common predators are feral dogs. It has been speculated that the limited amount of time the hyrax spends on the ground at night may be a predator avoidance strategy to avoid the dogs. Also humans are known to eat the hyrax.[6]

Diet[edit]

The southern tree hyrax is a herbivore. It consumes many different parts of the plants such as the leaves, petioles, twigs, shoots, fleshy fruit, and hard seeds.[7] Individual species are too many to list, but Hagenia abyssinica, Hypericum revolutum, and Podocarpus falcatus are the most common.[4]

Reproduction/Life Cycle[edit]

Milner and Harris reported that they were unable to determine the mating system but speculated that it may be facultative monogamy/polygyny.[4] After a gestation period of 7 months, 1-2 young are born. At birth they are well developed and they weigh approximately 380 g (13.4 oz.). The southern tree hyrax reaches maturity at about 12 months old.

Taxonomy[edit]

The previously recognized Dendrohyrax validus True, 1890 (Schlitter, In Wilson and Reeder 1993), called the mountain forest tree hyrax, is included in Dendrohyrax arboreus until detailed taxonomic research is conducted (Shoshani, In Wilson and Reeder 2005).

References[edit]

  1. ^ Shoshani, J. (2005). "Order Hyracoidea". In Wilson, D. E.; Reeder, D. M. Mammal Species of the World (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 87. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494. 
  2. ^ Barry, R., Bloomer, P., Hoeck, H. & Shoshani, H. (2008). Dendrohyrax arboreus. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Retrieved 29 December 2008.
  3. ^ [Kingdon, J. 1971. East African Mammals: An Atlas of Evolution in Africa, Volume I. London: Academic Press Inc..]
  4. ^ a b c [Milner, J., S. Harris. 1999a. Activity patterns and feeding behaviour of the tree hyrax, Dendrohyrax arboreus, in the Parc National des Volcans, Rwanda. African Journal of Ecology, 37: 267-280.]
  5. ^ http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1306/is_9_69/ai_108694197/
  6. ^ [Hoeck, H. 2001. Hyraxes. Pp. 448-451 in D Macdonald, S Norris, eds. The New Encyclopedia of Mammals. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.]
  7. ^ [Gaylard, A., G. Kerley. 1997. Diet of tree hyraxes Dendrohyrax arboreus (Hyracoidea: Procaviidae) in the Eastern Cape, South Africa. Journal of Mammalogy, 78/1: 213-221.]
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