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Comparative ecology of two African forest mongooses, Herpestes naso and Atilax paludinosus

African journal of ecology 1997 v.35 no.3 pp. 237-253
Herpestes, arthropods, carnivores, diet, foods, forests, habitats, radio telemetry, social dominance, streams, swamps, Central African Republic
During a two-year period, two mongoose species (Herpestes (Xenogale) naso and Atilax paludinosus) were studied in the Dzanga-Sangha forest of south-western Central African Republic by live-trapping, radio-telemetry, tracking and scat analysis. Clear separation with respect to habitat, activity patterns and food habits was observed. Herpestes naso, previously thought to be rare and known only from a few museum specimens, was the most abundant species in the carnivore community; in total, eleven individuals were trapped. Radio-collared Herpestes naso spent most of their time in upland forest, but a high degree of range overlap was observed in stream-side habitat. They were strictly diurnal and the location of their nocturnal resting sites varied from day to day. Atilax paludinosus was restricted to the swamp forest immediately adjacent to streams. A radio-collared male exhibited a crepuscular activity pattern, and the distribution of day-beds along the length of its home range was highly clumped. Mean travelling speeds of Atilax exceeded those of Herpestes, most likely because of the near linear shape of its home range and greater distance between borders. The diets of both carnivores were dominated by arthropods, with Atilax consuming more aquatic prey than Herpestes. It is suggested that the higher degree of habitat specificity exhibited by Atilax in the study area compared with other parts of its range was a result of the absence of otters from the smaller tributaries of the Dzanga-Sangha forest or perhaps to the social dominance of Herpestes naso.