ASSESSING THE ABUNDANCE AND NESTING BEHAVIOUR OF GOLDEN-RUMPED ELEPHANT-SHREWS (GRES) (Rhynchocyon chrysopygus) IN ARABUKO-SOKOKE FOREST, KILIFI COUNTY, KENYA
NYANCHAMA, ONDORO RAEL NELLY
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he Golden-rumped Elephant-shrew (GRES) (Rhynchocyon chrysopygus) is an insectivorous mammal endemic to Arabuko-Sokoke Forest (ASF) and environs. It is listed as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List. Previous population monitoring studies showed that the GRES population has been decreasing from ASF with the decline attributed to a change in the forest quality resulting from demand for forest products. However, these studies were conducted over a decade ago. This study aimed to assess the abundance, and influence of deadwood volume on nest sightings across the Cynometra, Brachystegia and Mixed Forest vegetation types in ASF. Line transects of 100m length were used to collect data on nesting behaviour while one 10 by 10m quadrat at the centre of each transect was used to collect deadwood data. Distance sampling method, utilizing detection probability data was used to determine the abundance in each of the vegetation types. Linear regression models were employed to examine the association between the number of nests per transect and deadwood volume while means and proportions were calculated to examine the determinants of GRES nesting sites. A total of 44 transects were laid across the three main vegetation types. Findings from this study indicate that the GRES population was estimated to be 19,423. Besides, deadwood volume was not associated with the number of nest sightings. Nests were found in areas with higher canopy cover, litter depth, and vegetation density. Although findings from this study indicate an increase in the GRES population in ASF, there is a need to continue monitoring their numbers to inform guidelines and conservation measures. There should be continued support to the community to improve their livelihoods to reduce the pressure for forest products and degradation which threatens flora and fauna including GRES with extinction.