Aside from the famous big cats of the wild, there are also other animals in South Africa that are already endangered; others are also already approaching the line of being extinct. Mammals in Africa that are endangered include the mountain zebra, African wild dog, dugong, and chimpanzee. But there are smaller mammals, too, that go unnoticed, because of their size, when it comes to noting their plummeting number.
The best example of these small, endangered mammals is the golden moles. They are natives of South Africa and commonly burrow underground to feed on insects, worms, and other invertebrates. However, out of 21 species of golden moles, 11 of these are now threatened with extinction according to the World Conservation Union (IUCN).
Read on to find out why.
- The scientific name of De Winton’s golden mole is Cryptochloris wintoni.
- Just like dogs, golden moles also come in varieties. There are 21 kinds of golden moles that currently exist on earth—that also means 21 different scientific names for this small mammal!
- Golden moles are relatively small, having a minimum size if 8 cm. Larger ones, however, could reach the length of 20 cm.
- Do you know that golden moles could be considered as ancient? They were discovered by the scientist Linnaeus 250 years ago.
- De Winton’s golden moles could really get easily endangered, and there is one major reason for this: they are endemic to the coastal dunes of Port Nolloth in the Northern Capes in Namaqualand. That is, they couldn’t be found anywhere on earth but in there.
- They called are also called ‘lake-shore hedgehogs’ since they reside in sandy coastal areas.
- Because of their choice of food, which are mostly insects, they are called ‘insectivores’.
- The name “golden mole” is actually a colloquial term. Their family name, however, which is Chrysochloridae has been derived from the Greek word that means “green-gold”.
- Even though they are called “golden”, these burrowing mammals are not totally golden-colored. Their fur actually varies from black to orange-brown to yellow-brown in color.
- Since golden moles are burrowing mammals—digging holes underground—you can also use the term fossorial as an adjective for them. It totally means the same!
- Golden moles in general are blind! Yes, you read that right. The sense of touch is the primary sense that they use instead, since this is very useful for them especially underground. Do you know that they can detect approaching dangerous by just feeling the vibrations?
- Humans have fats for insulation, De winton’s moles, on the other hand, have woolly underfurs for that function!
- They detect insects (which they consume for food), however, with the use of their sense of hearing.
- Golden moles are K-strategist. That means they produce a little number of offspring but live longer. This is an exact opposite of an R-strategist, which produce a great number of offspring at one time but has a very short life span.
- As golden moles become older, they become friendlier than when they were young. This is proven by their increased socialization among older members of the same species during adulthood.
- De winton’s golden mole is noted for its ability to kill a lizard almost twice its size!
- These mammals can dig and live underground at a depth of one meter. But it seems that they are really incredible, because they make chambers within their burrows, too. Golden moles use those either for bolt-holes or latrines.
- Have you seen someone who has always been solitary? Well, he shares a characteristic with golden moles—for they are like that, too!
- Golden moles are said to have very efficient kidneys, but this is not because of their drinking a lot of water. Instead, most of the species do not have a need to drink water at all!
- In places where the food is scarce and the temperature is extremely low, golden moles are able to lower their metabolic rate to conserve energy. This is what scientists call as ‘torpor’.
- You know that there are golden moles fighting when you hear high-pitched sqeaks beneath their burrows.
- Like most mammals, golden moles are territorial. Observations have been documented by scientists that one fights another viciously just to preserve his own burrow.
- If sweet nothings are whispered when humans are courting, for golden moles, however, it is totally different. Males do head-bobbing and foot stomping; females, on the other hand, squeak and produce vocalizations that are similar to grating noise.
- Blind as they may be, but golden moles actually have iridescent hairs—i.e., the colors reflected by the hair seem to change when seen from different angles. Scientists once thought it has a role to play in finding mates, but they later found out that these hairs enable golden moles to function efficiently underground.
- Golden moles are commonly confined in remote areas, that is why biologists claim that it is difficult to gather further data about them.
- De Winton’s golden moles live underground, that is their habitat is greatly degraded in areas where diamond mining is rampant and allowed. This has been considered as the main threat in their population.
- Like many endangered species, habitat loss is a great contributory factor why De Winton’s golden moles’ population.
- De Winton’s golden moles are first in the list of the critically endangered species release in the Red List of Threatened Species. This means that this species faces a very high risk of extinction.
- Yet despite of this claim, no recorded sighting of the mole has been done in 50 years. This is a bad thing, but it could mean that this species could possibly be extinct.
- One way that you can help to increase their number is to never let your domesticated pets go out in the wild. Golden moles continually decrease in number because they are also eaten by dogs.
- No conservation actions has been neatly planned yet for the De Winton’s moles, for further research has to be done regarding their distribution and the type of their ecology. However, some species such as Namib golden moles have been kept under husbandry since 1990.
Africa houses the greatest animals of the wild. However, there are wonderful animals that are left unnoticed because of flagrant poaching and even simple gestures made by mankind that interrupts most of the endangered animals’ ecosystem. Krissy Tilla-in of Fly First, writes about them, in hopes of lessening the ill deposition of these animals. Help save the endangered. Help Mother Nature’s fauna.