The giant Vangunu rat is real
For the first time, researchers have been able to provide video evidence of giant rats in the South Seas. This species has only been observed for a few years and is considered barely under-researched. However, it could be one of the last images of animals.
FResearchers have used camera traps to photograph one of the world’s rarest and least studied animal species for the first time on a remote island in the South Pacific. Giant Fanjuno mouse (Oromis Vika), named after the Solomon Islands of the same name, was not even known to science until a few years ago. The only documented animal so far was discovered dead next to a downed tree in 2015. This was the first new species of rodent discovered in the Solomon Islands east of New Guinea in more than 80 years. However, the first images of mice in their natural habitat could also be the last.
Due to the deforestation of their habitat in the tropical forests of Fanguno, rodents are facing extinction, according to an article in the specialized magazine “Environment and evolutionPublished study. The fact that they fell into a camera trap is a credit to the locals: the people of Fangunu – contrary to science – have deep traditional knowledge about giant rats, write researchers led by Tyrone H. Lavery of the University of Melbourne.
“Using camera traps and guided by this knowledge, we aimed to capture images of Uromys vika in the last large block of Vangunu primary forest,” she said. The animals were attracted to the bait containing sesame oil. A total of 95 images were generated for four different samples. “The rodents have been indisputably identified as Uromys vika due to their large body size, long tails, and very short ears.”
Zaira forests are the last suitable habitat
According to the study, the forests near the town of Zaira represent the last suitable habitat for this species, as it builds its nests in ferns that grow on lowland trees. Not much is known about their lifestyle, but it is said that Vangunu rats are so strong that they can even crack coconuts.
The researchers are convinced that “the recent approval of deforestation around the Zaira will lead to its extinction.” They hope their stunning images will help draw attention to the rare rodents and protect their habitat.
“The results presented here come at a critical time for the future of Zaira forests,” Lavery wrote. Residents have been struggling for 16 years to protect their tribal lands from commercial exploitation. However, the Solomon Islands government opened the area to logging in November 2022.
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