Unique Colombian Porcupine Species Threatened With Extinction

A unique South American porcupine species of which little is known is sadly at risk of extinction.

The brown hairy dwarf porcupine (Coendou vestitus) is found in the Andean region of Colombia and possibly also Venezuela.

Little is known about the species and its conservation status was previously listed as ‘vulnerable’ but is now thought to be on the brink of extinction.

Elkin Noguera Urbano, of the Alexander von Humboldt Biological Resources Research Institute, told local media about the seven species of porcupine found in Colombia: “They’re all difficult to see, but they can be heard, as some of the species emit sounds at night like human babies crying.

“Depending on the species, they feed on fruits and tend to seek their food on the forest floor and in the high tops of trees, so their survival depends on the condition of the forests.”

The brown hairy dwarf porcupine, which measures from 22 to 23 centimetres (8.7 to 9.1 inches) in length, appears soft but its spines are actually capable of piercing, allowing it to defend itself against cougars and foxes.

In the institute’s recent report on the species, Noguera writes: “Some of the records we obtained are very old, dating back to 1925. What most caught our attention is that after 100 years the existing records are so few, which only confirms its rarity when considering the species’ habitat in central Colombia corresponds to one of the country’s best-known areas.

“In which case, the next question is ‘do they need to be conserved?’ Without a doubt.”

The challenge is enormous, according to the institute’s report, as the rodent’s potential habitat is in the areas of greatest forest loss in the central Andes of Colombia.

The brown hairy dwarf porcupine is currently designated as ‘data deficient’, but Noguera has recommended its conservation status to be updated to ‘endangered’.

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Story By: William McGeeSub-EditorJoana Mihajlovska, Agency: Newsflash

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