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Fauna - complementary informations


Mount Hombori is a potential hotspot for vegetal (link botanic?) as well as animal biodiversity. Thanks to its peculiar geographical configuration (tabular mountain), the site has a very special interest for the fauna. The summit of the mount is indeed highly isolated and thus represents an ideal refuge for many animal species.
The goal of the zoological part of the Hombori Project is twofold. We aim first to realize a faunistic inventory of the Mount and of its neighboring sites. The fauna of the region is indeed poorly known, in particular concerning amphibians and insects. The second goal is to assess the importance of the site in terms of biodiversity by comparing the faunistic richness and abundance of the summit and of the surrounding plain.
In order to realize exhaustive inventories, some arthropod and vertebrate groups have been selected according to scientific and practical criteria. Priority has been given to groups presenting a high diversity, convenient trapping methods or a special scientific interest. Competences and interests of the scientists of the Hombori team played a role in the choice of the groups as well.

Taxonomic groups studied and trapping methods

1. Reptiles and amphibians

Mainly night trappings, with nets or by hand

2. Micromammals (rodents and shrews)

Various trapping methods have been used. Pitfall, Longworth, Sherman and mouse traps were placed for several consecutive nights on different sites. Individuals were caryotyped immediately after trapping for identification confirmation.

3. Chiroptera (Bats)

Night trapping with nets

4. Insecta

Insect censuses were done on specific sites, in parallel with botanical inventories. Those sites were chosen for their high floristic diversity. Various trappings were also done during the frequent field excursions.

Trapping methods

- Pitfall traps

A simple plastic cup buried in the ground and filled with some water and detergent. It allows to catch a great variety of walking insects, mainly Coleoptera, Orthoptera, Hemiptera and Hymenoptera.

- Light traps

A gas lamp standing behind a white sheet, allows to catch various night insects (Moth, Diptera, Neuroptera)

- Nets

Capture of flying insects, mainly butterflies (Lepidoptera-Rhopalocera), dragonflies and damselflies (Odonata) as well as various flies (Diptera) and Hymenoptera (wasp, bees, …)

- Bottle trap

A simple PET bottle whose neck has been cut and replaced upside down will attract many flying insects. It has to be filled (just a couple of centimeters) with sweet water or any other liquid attractant for insects.

5. Other

Direct observations during the numerous field excursions (during the day as well as during the night) allowed to identify some of the other animal species present on the summit.


A. Species lists

1. Reptiles and Amphibians

During the expedition, 47 specimens were collected. Seven of them were brought back alive to Switzerland and are actually in Natural History Museum of Geneva (link museum?). Determination is currently in progress. Here is a provisional list:

- 2 (3) Bufonidae species : Bufo cf. mauritanicus, Bufo cf. xeros, Bufo sp. (cf. regularis), Bufo sp.
- 3 Ranidae species : Tomopterna cryptosis, Hoplobatrachus occipitalis, Pyxicephalus edulis.
- 2 Hyperoliidae species : Kassina cf. senegalensis and one other unidentified species from the summit
- 1 Boidae : Gongylophis mulerii (unfortunately, hit to death with a stick by local people)
- 3 Gekkonidae : Hemidactylus cf mabouia, Ptyodactylus ragazzii et Tropiocolotes tripolitanus apoklomax
- 1 (2) Scincidae : Trachylepis quinquetaeniata, Mabuya sp.
- 1 Agama : Agama cf. agama

Four other species were also collected in 1965 by Papenfuss : Sphenops delisei, Hemidactylus brooki, Stenodactylus stenodactylus et Tropiocolotes tripolitanus

2. Micromammals

- Mus setulosus

3. Chiroptera (Bats)

Two species of Rhinopomatidaehave been caught.

- Rhinopoma hardwithei
- Rhinopoma mircophyllum.

4. Insecta

During this field mission, we collected approximately 300 specimens belonging to more than 130 different species. Some of the samples are waiting determination in the Zoological Museum of Lausanne. Here is a provisional list:

- Coleoptera : 40 sp (5 sp of Carabidae, 2 sp of Cerambycidae, 5 sp of Scarabaeniae, 1 sp of Cetoninae, 1 sp of Aphodiinae, 5 sp of Terebrionidae, 1 sp of Buprestidae, 5 sp of Meloidae, 2 sp of Histeridae, 1 sp of Coccinelidae, 3 sp of Curculionidae, 1 sp of Anobinae, 1 sp of Lampiridae et 1 sp of Cantharidae)
- Odonata : 1 sp of zygoptera et 8 sp of anisoptera (of which Philonomon luminans et Trithemis sp)
- Lepidoptera : 25 sp (of which Vanessa carduii)
- Hymenoptera : 15 sp
- Diptera : 15 sp
- Orthoptera : 10 sp
- Neuroptera : 3 sp of Myrmeleontidae
- Hemiptera : 9 sp (of which 1 nepidae)
- Mantidae : 3 sp
- Isoptera : 1 sp
- Other arthropods : 1 sp of solifugae (sun spiders) and 3 sp of scorpions



5. Other (direct observations)



- Stone partridge (Ptihopachus petrosus)
- Chestnut-tailed rock thrush (Monticola saxatilis)
- Lanner (Falco biarmicus)
- Fox kestrel (Falco alopex)
- Alpine swift (Apus melba)
- Rüppell’s vulture (Gyps rueppellii)
- Egyptian vulture (Neophron percnopterus)
- Mocking chat (Myrmecocichla cinnamomeivent)

- Syrian hyrax (Procavia capensis)

The rock hyrax - Procavia capensis

- Olive baboon (Papio hamadryas anubis)

Traces of baboons

The olive baboon has a wide spread distribution from Middle Eastern to Middle Western Africa. This species is found in a variety of habitat types from grassland steppe to tropical rainforests.

Distribution of the olive baboon

The olive baboon is a frugivorous species, but leaves also constitute a major part of the diet. This species also eats flowers, roots, grasses, bark, twigs, sap, tubers, bulbs, mushrooms, lichens, aquatic plants, seeds, shoots, buds, invertebrates, and small vertebrates, such as gazelle. Females with infants mostly feed on the ground for grasses and on low bushes (Estes, 1991). Olive baboons will sit on the ground and shuffle along as they feed for grasses and other food found on the ground (Richard, 1985). Group sizes are variable ranging from 8 to 100 individuals. This is a diurnal species. The olive baboon will sleep in trees or on rocky outcroppings.

- Genet (Genetta sp)

Surrounding plain or cliffs

- Intermediate egret (Egretta intermedia)
- Little egret (Egretta garzetta)
- Black kite (Milvus migrans parasitus) (African subspecies)
- Pied crow (Corvus albus)
- Little swift (Apus affinis)
- Grey hornbill (Tokus nasutus)
- Hoopoe (Upupa epops)
- Cabanis’ bunting (Emberiza cabanisi)
- Red-billed firefinch (Lagonosticta senegala)
- Senegal coucal (Centropus senegalensis)
- Arabian bustard (Ardeotis arabs)

B. Comparison summit-plain

Data collected during the 2003 and 2005 missions are being currently analyzed. Nevertheless, we can draw several conclusions from the provisional data.
First, it seems that the mount represents a refuge for some mammals that are seldom found in the surrounding plain (baboons, hyrax, genet, …). Concerning the entomofauna, levels of diversity are probably similar between the summit and the plain but many species are more abundant on the top of the Mountain. Given the high dispersion potential of many insect species and the geographical configuration of the site, it is highly probable that the summit represents a source of diversity for the highly anthropized surrounding plain. It is whereas difficult to draw conclusion about the micromammals inventory because of the very low trapping efficiency (only one species caught!). We thus aim to develop more efficient trapping methods during a future mission. Finally, it is highly probable that the mountain, and its inaccessible cliffs in particular, shelters many bird species that are sensible to human disturbance (for example raptors like the Lanner or the Fox kestrel and many other passerine species).

Future aims

- To supplement the entomological inventory
- To develop a photo trapping method in order to have precise data about medium sized mammals present on the summit (in particular genets and baboons)
- To develop new trapping methods for micromammals
- To monitor animal biodiversity of the summit on the long- and medium-term



Birds, reptiles and small mammifers are abundant on the top of the mountain. Keeping in mind the rich and particular environment of the top insects should also be a particularly interesting group.


On the Mount Hombori a few mammals can be directly observed: among those the olive baboon (Papio hamadryas anubis ) and the rock hyrax (Procavia capensis). At the time of the first mission, we observed quite a lot of hyrax (photo) and we saw some traces of baboon (photo) we also brought an hyrax skull.

In the next mission we hope to collect rodents and insectivores: principally gerbils, mouse and shrews. Our goal is to capture the giant shrew, Crocidura flavescens .

Estes, R.D. 1991. The Behavior Guide to African Mammals . University of California Press.

Newman, T.K. 2004. Mitochondrial Phylogeny and Systematics of Baboons (Papio) , American Journal of Physical Anthropology 124:17-27

Richard, A.F. 1985. Primates in Nature . W.H. Freeman and Co., NY.


Update: 28 February 2011