Haiti / Dominican Republic: EDGE of Existence programme

Every forest camapaign needs something that sells its cause,
someitmes that something can evoke so much wonder that it’s certain
they’ll get lots of attention. I bet this particular story will have a
very long shelf life. We’ll see… –Editor, Forest Policy Research


Little is known about the Hispaniolan solenodon, which is found in the
Caribbean. Despite being able to inject its prey with a venom-loaded
bite, the long-snouted mammal is under threat from deforestation,
hunting and introduced species.

It is one of the creatures highlighted
by ZSL’s EDGE of Existence programme, which focuses its efforts on
conservation plans for animals that are both endangered and
evolutionarily distinctive. The footage was taken in summer 2008
during a month-long expedition by Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust
to the Dominican Republic – one of only two countries where this
nocturnal, invertebrate-eating animal (Solenodon paradoxus) can be
found. ZSL EDGE researcher Dr Sam Turvey said: “It is an amazing
creature – it is one of the most evolutionary distinct mammals in the
world – which was recently rediscovered in Haiti by ZSL. Along with
the other species of solenodon, which is found in Cuba (Solenodon
cubanus), it is the only living mammal that can actually inject venom
into its prey through specialized teeth.

“The fossil record shows that
some other now-extinct mammal groups also had so-called dental venom
delivery systems. So this might have been a more general ancient
mammalian characteristic that has been lost in most modern mammals,
and is only retained in a couple of very ancient lineages.”
Researchers from the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust and the
Ornithological Society of Hispaniola were able to take measurements
and DNA before it was released. Dr Turvey and other scientists working
for the EDGE programme recently discovered a population of solenodons
living in a remote corner of Haiti. The research team was surprised to
find them as it had been feared they had become extinct in Haiti
because of extensive deforestation, recently introduced mongoose and
dogs and hunting by humans for food. Conservation efforts are need in
both Haiti and the Dominican Republic and ZSL’s EDGE team is seeking
funds to continue the vital work. The research will be undertaken by
ZSL’S EDGE Programme, Durrell, the Ornithological Society of
Hispaniola, the Audubon Society of Haiti, and the Dominican Republic’s
National Zoological Park and Agency for Protected Areas and
Biodiversity. http://www.zsl.org/conservation/news/rare-footage-of-endangered-venomous-mammal,551,NS.html

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Comments (1)

JohnJune 7th, 2011 at 4:52 pm

I saw a mammal that looks like a Solendon in my backyard this evening in Justus, Pennsylvania 10 miles north of Scranton. What would that be?

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