Secrets of tree hyraxes in Kenya uncovered with new research techniques
Tree hyraxes (Dendrohyrax sp.) of Taita mountain forests of Kenya are medium-sized nocturnal mammals. Credit: Hanna Rosti

Medium-sized mammals called tree hyraxes are found in tropical forests. They are shy and only move at night, which is why there is no information about their living habits or behavior so far.

The life of a local tree hyrax species in the fragmented mountain forests of Taita Hills in Kenya has been observed by researchers from the University of Helsinki.

The movements of nocturnal tree hyraxes were monitored. The camera showed which tree and vine species the tree hyraxes preferred, which leaves they preferred, and which hiding places they preferred. The new data shows that tree hyraxes are social. They don't sit in a fork of a tree.

In the dark hours of the night, the automated acoustic recorders placed in the forests inhabited by tree hyraxes collected diverse information on communication between the animals and their other activities. It was possible to estimate the number of tree hyraxes thanks to the recordings. The population is not more than 2000 people.

In small forest patches, the calls of tree hyraxes were only heard in the early hours of the morning. According to a researcher from the Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences, these few surviving animals are making every effort to avoid detection and attention.

The hyrax forests were scanned from the air. The models of forest structure produced using airborne laser scanning equipment confirmed that tree hyraxes prefer dense forests and where the largest trees reach heights of more than 45 meters.

The results of this research will move tree hyrax preservation forward in Taita Hills and other parts of Africa. The methods used can be applied to other nocturnal animals that are difficult to get close to.

The research findings will be used to promote the protection and preservation of endemic species in Taita Hills, as attempts will be made to boost reforestation efforts.

More information: Hanna Rosti et al, Habitat preferences, estimated abundance and behavior of tree hyrax (Dendrohyrax sp.) in fragmented montane forests of Taita Hills, Kenya, Scientific Reports (2022). DOI: 10.1038/s41598-022-10235-7 Journal information: Scientific Reports Citation: Secrets of tree hyraxes in Kenya uncovered with new research techniques (2022, May 25) retrieved 25 May 2022 from This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.