Mammal endemism in the highlands and escarpments of Angola and Namibia
Keywords:Afromontane forest, Angola, endemism, escarpments, highlands, mammals, Namibia
The highlands and escarpments of Angola and Namibia (HEAN) consist of a series of high-elevation plateaus, escarpment ridges and inselbergs. They are known for their increased capacity to promote speciation and species persistence, but the importance of this area as an endemism centre for mammals remains poorly documented. Here we describe the endemic and near-endemic mammalian taxa occurring in the HEAN. Based on a literature search, we were able to confirm 12 endemic, 13 possible endemic and 20 near-endemic mammalian taxa, of which 28 are species, 10 are possible undescribed (new) species, and 7 are subspecies. Rodents showed the highest endemism (28 taxa), followed by bats (6 taxa), with only a few other mammalian orders being represented by endemic species here: two carnivores, two bovids, one odd-toed ungulate, two shrews, one sengi, two primates and one hyrax. Most of these endemic mammals have their distribution concentrated in the Angolan section of the HEAN. However, there are considerable knowledge gaps due to the lack of mammal surveys in large parts of the region, in addition to a lack of taxonomic studies utilising modern techniques. As such, new species of bats, rodents and shrews are expected to be documented in the years ahead. Given the alarmingly rapid loss of native habitats in the region, and to avoid losing the unique biological heritage of the HEAN, we recommend the enforcement of regulations protecting native habitat relicts.
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