Date:November 26, 2020

In Africa, a Tiny Elephant Shrews Has Been Rediscovered – After Being Classified as a ‘Lost Species’ for the Last 50 Years

It might sound shocking, but 2020 hasn’t been all terribly wrong. Because of that, below we’d like to show you some light on a thing that happened this year and was actually pretty damn great. And the thing we’re talking about has something to do with the tiny cutie you can see in the photos below.


This cutie is called the Somali elephant shrew (or Somali sengi) and after 50 years of obscurity, he has been rediscovered in Africa. He was found safe and sound in Djibouti, a country in the Horn of Africa, by a group of scientists. The scientists had heard reports of mysterious sightings in Djibouti, so they decided to go there and see for themselves.

Steven Heritage, a research scientist at the Duke University Lemur Center, told BBC: “We did not know which species occurred in Djibouti and when we saw the diagnostic feature of a little tufted tail, we looked at each other and we knew that it was something special.

Researchers set up more than 1,000 traps at 12 locations, in order to catch these Somali elephant shrews, and to lure these cuties in, they used a mixture of peanut butter, oatmeal, and yeast.

Smithsonian’s National Zoo

Smithsonian’s National Zoo

And it should be mentioned that the people living in Djibouti never considered these sengis to be missing. “This is a welcome and wonderful rediscovery during a time of turmoil for our planet, and one that fills us with renewed hope for the remaining small mammal species on our most-wanted list, such as the DeWinton’s golden mole, a relative of the sengi, and the Ilin Island cloud runner,” Steven Heritage told BBC.

Finding that the Somali sengi exists in the wild is the first step in conservation. Now that we know it survives, scientists and conservationists will be able to ensure it never disappears again,” Kelsey Neam of Global Wildlife Conservation told BBC.

In the whole world, there are 20 species of elephant shrews and the Somali sengi is one of the most mysterious ones.

Also, this animal looks pretty weird. At first sight, it looks kind of like a mouse, but there’s also this tiny trunk-like nose that resembles an elephant’s. Apparently, some of the Somali sengi’s closest living relatives are the aardvark, elephant, and manatee.

Smithsonian’s National Zoo

Josh More

Mallory Lindsay

Here’s what people are saying about this rediscovery: