Due to extensive hunting and forest clearance, the Abbott's Duiker is probably Africa's rarest forest antelope. It is also the least known, with the first photograph of a wild individual being acquired only in the last decade.
Since the Kipunji was discovered in 2003, intensive work has been conducted to understand the evolutionary biology, behavioural ecology and conservation status of this new genus of monkey.
Direct threats to Kipunji come from habitat destruction and hunting, the latter in the forest where individuals are trapped in snares, and in surrounding farmland during retribution for crop raiding. Fewer than 1200 individuals exist in just 17% of the available Livingstone and Rungwe forests, with range restriction due to a combination of ecological factors and the intensity of human impact (hunting, charcoal production and timber).
Meanwhile, local human population growth is rising by nearly 50% every 20 years, adding further pressure on natural resources and highlighting a serious and growing risk of increased habitat destruction, and thus significant impacts on these species.
This SOS - Save Our Species project aimed at combating the threats to both species, implemented by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), consists in a series of measures carried out in and around Mount Rungwe and the Livingstone Mountains forests. The project will support protected area authorities with training and equipment to conduct ecological monitoring and antipoaching, in addition to direct assistance with reforestation.
A research and monitoring project will be conducted into approaches to deter crop raiding by Kipunji - with the immediate employment of seasonal crop protection officers at strategic locations at the forest / cropland boundary. The project staff will also work with local communities and protected area authorities to establish 5,000 hectares of snare-free forest through a snare removal scheme and an environmental education initiative conducted through Village Environmental Committees.
Geo-referenced biological and human impacts data will also be collected in the field and analysed with satellite imagery in geographic information systems on a 6-monthly cycle.
The main objective of this project is to bring to a halt the direct threats to both the Kipunji and Abbotts' Duiker in and around the Mount Rungwe and Livingstone Mountains forests. This will hopefully allow population and range expansion for both species in the long term.