Rondo Dwarf Galago (Galagoides rondoensis)

Rondo Dwarf Galago (Galagoides rondoensis)

The distinctive and tiny Rondo galago was first described in 1996. It is unique for its bottle-brush tail and call, is endemic to coastal Tanzania. This galago is listed as a Top 25 Most Endangered Primate and is known only from eight small, highly threatened forest patches (with a total area of less than 100 km²). Further the Rondo galago is split into two main subpopulations some 400km apart from each other. The species is small (ca. 60g), primarily insectivorous and occupies the forest under storey but builds daytime sleeping nests in the canopy. Almost all sites are subject to habitat degradation on from agricultural encroachment, charcoal manufacture and/or logging.

Evolutionary Distinctiveness
Order: Primates
Family: Galagidae
Morphological, molecular, fossil and biogeographical data bearing on early primate evolution suggest that the clade containing extant (or 'crown') strepsirrhine primates (lemurs, lorises and galagos) arose in Afro-Arabia during the early palaeogene. Galagos are confined to Sub-Saharan African in almost all wooded habitats. Four genera and 20 species are currently recognised with at least four species yet to be named. The smallest or dwarf galagos (> 200g body weight) from the genus Galagoides comprise of seven species, all of which are primarily forest dwelling species. The Rondo galago was fully described as a species in 1996 but, it was discovered in the 1950s when tiny galagos were collected from the Rondo and Makonde plateaux by the medical researcher R.W. Hayman, and were deposited in the Natural History Museum, London. They were then variously identified as Demidoff’s galago “Galago demidovii” known from the Congo basin and later the Mountain galago “Galago demidovii orinus” (Jenkins 1987) known from the East Arc Mountains of Tanzania and Kenya. Unusually the Rondo galago occurs together with other (larger) dwarf galago Galagoides species these are the Zanzibar galago (Galagoides zanzibaricus) and Grant’s galago (G. granti) depending on the locality. It is hypothesised that the Rondo galago may have evolved out of an ancestral dwarf galago that occurred in the region at a time when the Congolean forest belt extended right across to East Africa in wetter times. The Rondo galago may thus represent a derived and isolated form from an old galago lineage.
Description
Weight: 60 g
Bushbabies are prosimian primates that are small, long-tailed with large mobile ears and large eyes. Bushbabies possess a grooming claw and a tooth comb and a pseudo-tongue. G. rondoensis is one of the smallest of all galago species. The Rondo galago is extraordinary for its bottle brush tail which is reddish when immature and darkens with maturity, reproductive anatomy, and its distinctive “double unit rolling call”.
Ecology
Rondo dwarf galagos have a diet predominantly of insects as well as fruit and flowers. They often feed in the leaf litter and the under storey and move by vertical clinging and leaping. Being nocturnal, they build daytime sleeping nests, which are often in the canopy. It is presumed to give birth to one or two young per year.
Habitat
This species is found in moist evergreen forest patches within the East African coastal forest ecosystem. These forest patches are typically located on east facing slopes and escarpments less than 90km from the sea.
Distribution
This species is known from eight isolated forest patches: Zaraninge Forest within Sadaani National Park, Pande Game Reserve, Pugu/Kazimzumbwe, Rondo, Litipo, Chitoa, Ruawa and Ziwani Forest Reserves at elevations between 50 – 900 m a.s.l.. The known distribution encompasses 92 km² of coastal forest. These eight subpopulations cluster into two broad populations some 400km apart from each other, one in southwest Tanzania near the coastal towns of Lindi and Mtwara, the other approximately 400 km further north, bisected by the Rufiji River, in pockets of forest around Dar es Salaam and one 100 km further north in Sadaani National Park.

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