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Black-and-Rufous Elephant-shrews in Unguja

 

imageThe most charismatic member of the indigenous forest vertebrate community at Unguja Lodge is undoubtedly the Black-and-Rufous Elephant-Shrew.

There are several living in the five acres of regenerating coral rag woodland on the property.

This is an animal species much sought after by the more discerning eco-traveler to Tanzania.

They are easy to see at Unguja Lodge. Probably easier to see well here than anywhere else, because they are unmolested and consequently they have become tame. However, because they prefer rummaging among dead leaves in the deep shade of the forest floor, they are very hard to photograph!

This one was expertly captured by Caroline Langevoord near the giant Baobabs, at the back of the restaurant area, one sunny afternoon in early April 2016.

They are also an important provisioning component of the entire forest ecosystem. Because, as they go about their business, they are frequently followed by two shy, insectivorous, woodland birds the Red-capped Robin-chat and the endemic race (to Unguja and Mafia) of the  Eastern Bearded Scrub-robin.

The birds feed upon those invertebrates that either the Elephant-shrews does not eat, or those that escape the quietly foraging mammal.

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