Abundance, distribution, habitat, activity and conservation of Sokoke bushy-tailed mongoose Bdeogale omnivora in central and north coast forests of Kenya
The Sokoke dog or bushy-tailed mongoose Bdeogale omnivora is poorly known and considered to be endemic to the East African coastal forests. Systematic camera trap surveys, comprising 9229 camera trap days on grids at six study sites, were used to determine the distribution and relative abundance of the Sokoke bushy-tailed mongoose in the two largest Kenyan coastal forests: Boni-Dodori Forest Complex (ca. 4000 km²); and Arabuko-Sokoke Forest Reserve (416 km²). This species was captured in all surveyed forests with significantly more detections in Brachystegia woodland habitat (ca. 71 km2) of Arabuko-Sokoke and the Boni forest sectors (ca. 2000 km2) of the Boni-Dodori Forest Complex. Boni-Dodori Forest Complex, with an estimated occupancy of over 60% for this species, holds a significant population. The study generated over 1000 images of the Sokoke bushy-tailed mongoose in a total surveyed area of approximately 500 km2 providing the first 24-hour activity data for the species. The circadian patterns confirm this species to be strictly nocturnal. This study strongly recommends that its Red List status remains ‘Vulnerable’. The few remaining coastal forests continue to face human pressure. Recent proposals to find and extract hydrocarbons from under the Arabuko-Sokoke Forest, and the planned major development close to Boni-Dodori Forest Complex, raise serious conservation concerns for this exceptionally biodiverse ecosystem.
Keywords: Arabuko-Sokoke forest, Boni forest, Dodori forest, camera trap, status, Bdeogale omnivora