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Animal World: Our Co-inhabitants

The Elephant Shrews: The Swift Little Gems of Africa

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Across this vast African continent live 19 species of elephant shrews or sengis, including us, the round-eared elephant shrews. We are quite small, about the size of rodents. Each species has their own territory, and we can be found in various regions except for Western Africa and the Sahara Desert. Our name comes from our elongated noses which are like an elephant’s trunk, and our small, round bodies which are similar to a shrew’s body. Our hind legs are long and slender for our size, but they are very strong, so we can run at speeds of up to 28.8 kilometers per hour; that’s really fast for our size! Our powerful hind legs also enable us to hop like rabbits and jump as high as one meter in the air!

All of our elephant shrew family like to make homes in warm places, and we round-eared elephant shrews are no exception. Some species build nests out of leaves on the forest floor, some construct complicated trails through leaf litter, and some use natural crevices as their shelters. We are very well adapted to all kinds of environments. Even when the temperature is high, we can use a technique called evaporative water loss to maintain our body temperature at 35°C. We elephant shrews are very loyal to our partners. Once we find our mate, we bond with them for life. We raise our babies and protect our shared home and territory together. However, we don’t act too clingy and give each other space. We know that the family is connected through our love and caring actions towards each other. That is true love! Female sengis give birth to one or two babies after a gestation of 56 days and may produce several litters a year.

We elephant shrews have been living on this beautiful land in Africa for countless generations. Nevertheless, we are facing the threat of the fragmentation of our habitats by logging and clearing land for agricultural use and urban development. This makes it more and more difficult for us to find mates and suitable homes. We hope that people can conserve our homeland and stop destroying our habitats, so that we can continue to live our lives and play our roles in the ecosystems of the beautiful Earth.
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