African Small Carnivore Research Initiatives 

  • ASCaRIs Head Office, University of Fort Hare, Zoology Building, King William's Town Road, Alice, Eastern Cape, 5700, South Africa
  • ascaris.org@gmail.com

Yellow mongooses 

Telperion Nature Reserve (South Africa)

© E. Do Linh San

Banded Mongooses

Etosha N. P. (Namibia)

© N. Devos

Small-spotted Genet

Ngorongoro Conservation Area (Tanzania)

© J.-M. Weber

Slender Mongoose

Kruger N. P. (South Africa)

© E. Do Linh San

Black-backed Jackal

Mountain Zebra N. P. (South Africa)

© E. Do Linh San

Meerkat pups drinking

Kalahari Trails (South Africa)

© E. Do Linh San

Honey Badger

Kgalagadi T. P. (South Africa)

© E. Do Linh San

Fossas mating

Kirindy Forest (Madagascar)

© www.nickgarbutt.com

African Wildcat

Kgalagadi T. P.  (South Africa)

© E. Do Linh San

WHAT IS ASCARIS?

ASCaRIs is a non-profit scientific organization aiming at promoting research, disseminating new knowledge and ultimately funding research projects on African small carnivores – based on much needed donations.

WHY ASCARIS?

Contrarily to large carnivores such as Lion, Leopard, African Wild Dog or Spotted Hyaena, African small carnivores have received very little attention from the scientific community. Yet, they also play important roles in the ecosystem. They can control some prey populations (e.g. rodents and insects) – which are often considered as agricultural pests by humans – or transport and disseminate the seeds of several plants (a phenomenon called zoochory), among other functions. In addition, some small carnivore species are highly social and therefore constitute interesting models to study the processes underlying the evolution of sociality in mammals.

WHY DO WE NEED YOUR HELP?

With so much emphasis put on larger, more charismatic, and sometime more endangered carnivores, it is often difficult for researchers interested in studying the smaller species to obtain enough funding to really make a difference. Yet, almost everything still needs to be discovered about the biology, ecology and behaviour of a majority of the 80+ species of small carnivores living in Africa. Your precious donations will therefore assist us in developing and funding new projects in multiple regions of this fascinating continent. These funds will be used to acquire research material, cover basic running costs (e.g. fuel for field vehicles) and pay tuition fees of postgraduate students from disadvantaged backgrounds. 

­­latest news
School of Floristry Florance

Publication of a comprehensive book on Mongooses of the world!

By Andrew Jennings & Géraldine Veron


  • The first book for over 50 years entirely devoted to all mongooses.
  • Provides a comprehensive and thorough overview.
  • Describes the most up-to-date and scientifically-sound information about all 34 mongoose species.
  • Highlights the current conservation status of each mongoose species, and describe the threats that they face.
  • Describes the role that mongooses have played in human culture, mythology and folklore.
 
CURRENT PROJECTS

 We currently have a few research projects running. Click on the respective projects to learn more about them. Please do not hesitate to contact us if 1) you have ideas and/or funds for other projects, and would like to collaborate with us, or 2) you work on African small carnivores and would like to join ASCaRIs and showcase your important research work on this website.

<span style="font-weight: bold;">Tunisia</span>
Tunisia
PhD student Firas Hayder (University of Fort Hare) just started a project on the spatio-temporal ecology of a Libyan Striped Weasel (Ictonyx libycus) population living in a semi-natural habitat, with the aim to infer whether the species is affected by human activities. Hence, the information that will be obtained in this research project will help to understand the ecological requirements and establish conservation measures for this small carnivore. As an awareness programme, Firas will organise some courses for students in schools, and simply demonstrate how radio-tracking is working. Furthermore, Firas will involve the local people at different stages of the work (e.g. capture of weasels, monitoring by radio-telemetry, etc.). These actions will hopefully constitute a first step in helping to raise awareness about Ictonyx libycus in particular, and small carnivores in general.
Ecology, behaviour and conservation of Libyan Striped Weasel in Tunisia

ASCaRIs wholeheartedly thank the generous sponsors who made Firas's dream come true: The Rufford Foundation (running costs and small research material), IDEA WILD (trapping and radio-tracking material), Holohil (radio-collars) and the University of Fort Hare (PhD bursary).

<span style="font-weight: bold;">Kalahari (South Africa)</span><br>
Kalahari (South Africa)
PhD student Keafon Jumbam (University of the Free State, Qwaqwa Campus) is completing her project on the social, ecological and personality factors affecting the foraging behaviour of the Bat-eared Fox (Otocyon megalotis). She aims to contribute information on their dietary habits, on correlations between exploration and foraging behaviours and the consequences of different parenting styles within a population. Given the rarity of long-term studies on nocturnal meso-predators such as the Bat-eared Fox, she hopes her research will offer important insight on the complexity of carnivore behaviours in the wild.
Foraging behaviour of the Bat-eared Fox
<span style="font-weight: bold;">KwaZulu-Natal&nbsp; (South Africa)</span>
KwaZulu-Natal  (South Africa)
PhD student Jarry Streicher (University of Swaziland) – in the center –  is currently investigating how land-use changes affect aspects of the ecology (especially spatio-temporal) of two co-inhabiting small carnivores (Water Mongoose Atilax paludinosus and Large Grey Mongoose Herpestes ichneumon) using GPS cell telemetry. He is also performing scat analysis and in-depth questionnaires to gain a holistic understanding of the anthropogenic pressures on these small carnivores and the human perspectives of them. Furthermore, he will be contrasting his findings across a land-use gradient from the fragmented natural farmlands mosaic of the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands to urban areas of the greater eThekwini Durban Metropolitan Open Space System (D'MOSS) to evaluate the different anthropogenic pressures these two mongoose species face.
 Spatio-temporal ecology of two mongoose species
<span style="font-weight: bold;">South Africa and Swaziland</span><br>
South Africa and Swaziland
PhD student Rabelani Marikhele (University of the Witwatersrand) is currently... 
Diets of genets in Southern Africa
<span style="font-weight: bold;">Dullstroom &amp; Drakensburg (South Africa)</span>
Dullstroom & Drakensburg (South Africa)
MSc student Tshepiso Majelantle (University of Pretoria) is currently evaluating the effect of anthropogenically disturbed landscapes on African Clawless Otter (Aonyx capensis) behaviour and stress endocrine correlates. In a time of increasing environmental change caused by anthropogenic disturbance, the need for understanding animal adaptations to man-made environments increases. Fresh faecal samples were collected from two natural areas (Veloren Vallei Nature Reserve; Cobham Nature Reserve) and one transformed/anthropogenically disturbed area (Millstream Farm).
Evaluation of anthropogenic disturbance on African Clawless Otter
<span style="font-weight: bold;">Telperion Nature Reserve&nbsp;&nbsp;(South Africa)</span>
Telperion Nature Reserve  (South Africa)
MSc student Nicola Saayman (University of the Witswatersrand) is currently conducting a detailed study on the nocturnal sleeping sites of this species. She aims at describing the spatial distribution (within individual home ranges), characteristics and selection of sleeping sites. She also aims at determining sleeping site fidelity and which factors may promote fidelity or switch.
    Sleeping site ecology of Slender Mongoose
<span style="font-weight: bold;">Telperion Nature Reserve&nbsp; (South Africa)</span>
Telperion Nature Reserve  (South Africa)
MSc student Diana Moyo (University of Fort Hare) is currently carrying out an 18-month radio-tracking study on the spatio-temporal ecology of this species. She is focusing on describing the activity patterns, home range size and movements of mongooses; and establish whether they are affected by sex, season and weather conditions. She is also collecting data on resting site ecology for a joint project (see details on the right-hand side).
Spatio-temporal ecology of Slender Mongoose
<span style="font-weight: bold;">Great Fish River Reserve (South Africa)</span>
Great Fish River Reserve (South Africa)
Post-doctoral researcher Filipe Carvalho (University of Fort Hare) is conducting a 3-year study on the mechanisms underlying competition and co-existence in sympatric carnivores. He will investigate the possible spatial and temporal overlap or segregation between these two genet species, while some MSc and Honours students will complement the study by collecting information on diet, latrine site selection and resting site selection.
Spatio-temporal ecology of sympatric Cape and Small-spotted Genets
<span style="font-weight: bold;">Great Fish River Reserve (South Africa)</span>
Great Fish River Reserve (South Africa)
MSc student Masibulele Xhobani (University of Fort Hare) is currently using camera-trapping to study the use of latrines by Genetta tigrina and Genetta genetta. He is interested to know how many individuals visit the latrines, at what time of the night, how frequently this takes place, what behaviours are performed, and finally whether some latrines are possibly used by both genet and other carnivore species.
Latrine use by sympatric Cape and Small-spotted Genets
<span style="font-weight: bold;">Great Fish River Reserve (South Africa)</span>
Great Fish River Reserve (South Africa)
MSc student Axola Plaatjie (University of Fort Hare) is currently carrying out a 1-year comparative study on the diet of the sympatric Genetta tigrina and Genetta genetta. He is interested to know what they eat and whether their respective diets vary seasonally and whether these two species potentially compete for food.
Comparative diets of sympatric Cape and Small-spotted Genets
<span style="font-weight: bold;">Great Fish River Reserve (South Africa)</span><br>
Great Fish River Reserve (South Africa)
BSc Honours student Gift Speelman (University of Fort Hare) is currently carrying out a field study to first determine the species richness and distribution of small carnivores in a provincial game reserve. In a second step, his objectives are to evaluate the naïve occupancy, relative abundance and activity patterns of the smaller mammalian predators.
Occupancy, relative abundance and activity of small carnivores
<span style="font-weight: bold;">Great Fish River Reserve (South Africa)</span>
Great Fish River Reserve (South Africa)
MSc student Margarida Franco (University of Évora) is currently carrying out a 1-year radio-tracking study on the resting ecology of both genet species. She aims at describing the spatial distribution, characteristics and fidelity to diurnal resting sites; whether these variables vary between sexes and seasons; and whether genets select specific macro- and/or micro-habitat features for their diurnal resting sites.
Resting site ecology of Cape and Small-spotted Genets
<span style="font-weight: bold;">Tswalu Kalahari Reserve (South Africa)</span><br>
Tswalu Kalahari Reserve (South Africa)
MSc student Roxanne Collins (University of South Africa) is attempting to determine the effects of apex predator (such as Lion Panthera leo) loss on community dynamics, with specific reference to mesopredators such as Caracal (Caracal caracal) and Black-backed Jackal (Canis mesomelas). Indeed, changes in predator community structure or losses of specific carnivores may alter community and intraguild relationships, resulting in changes in mesopredator communities and trophic cascading. With the use of camera-traps, Sherman traps, and an array of sampling techniques, she is determining the mesopredator, small mammal and wild bird densities and abundances across two areas (with and without Lion) at Tswalu Kalahari Reserve. The study predicts that the cascading effects due to changes in mesopredator guilds alter small mammal and bird community dynamics.
Response of mesopredators to different apex predator regimes
 
RECENTLY COMPLETED PROJECTS
<span style="font-weight: bold;">Mbuluzi Game Reserve&nbsp; (Swaziland)</span>
Mbuluzi Game Reserve  (Swaziland)
Researchers at the University of Swaziland and the University of Fort Hare (South Africa) have just completed a collaborative project aiming at studying the spatial and temporal ecology of this widely distributed genet species in a low-lying Savannah habitat. Two MSc students and several field assistants (here Mr Fana Masango radio-tracking) were working on this exciting project.
Spatio-temporal ecology of Rusty-spotted Genet 
<span style="font-weight: bold;">Mbuluzi Game Reserve&nbsp; (Swaziland)</span>
Mbuluzi Game Reserve  (Swaziland)
MSc student Gcinile Ndzinisa (University of Swaziland) – on the left-hand side – conducted a 6-month radio-tracking study on the spatio-temporal ecology of this species. Her objectives were to describe the activity patterns and home range charcteristics and establish whether they are affected by sex, season and weather conditions.
 Activity and home range of Rusty-spotted Genet
<span style="font-weight: bold;">Mbuluzi Game Reserve&nbsp; (Swaziland)</span>
Mbuluzi Game Reserve  (Swaziland)
MSc student Innocentia Seyama (University of Swaziland) – second from the left –carried out a 6-month radio-tracking study on the resting ecology of this species. She aimed at describing the spatial distribution, characteristics and fidelity to diurnal resting sites; and whether these variables vary between sexes and seasons.
Resting site ecology of Rusty-spotted Genet
<span style="font-weight: bold;">Great Fish River Reserve (South Africa)</span>
Great Fish River Reserve (South Africa)
BSc Honours student Zonke Mrubata (University of Fort Hare) analysed a 1-year dataset to evaluate whether camera-trapping and monthly latrine checks and scat counts provide similar information on the annual latrine use patterns by two sympatric genet species. Her study has interesting implications in terms of research costs vs. scientific accuracy.
A comparison of two techniques to study genet latrine use
<span style="font-weight: bold;">Great Fish River Reserve (South Africa)</span>
Great Fish River Reserve (South Africa)
BSc Honours student Bantony Ziko (University of Fort Hare) carried out a field study on the selection of latrine sites by Cape and Small-spotted Genets. His objectives were to characterise the micro- and macro-habitat around latrines sites;  to determine whether those habitat features differ from that of random points in the reserve; and whether both species differ in their selection of latrines sites.
Latrine site selection by two sympatric genet species
<span style="font-weight: bold;">Central Karoo farmland and Anysberg Nature Reserve (South Africa)</span><br>
Central Karoo farmland and Anysberg Nature Reserve (South Africa)
PhD student Marine Drouilly (University of Cape Town) used camera-traps, GPS collars, scat analysis and in-depth questionnaires with small-livestock holders to study the socio-ecological mechanisms behind farmer–mesopredator conflict in the Central Karoo. She was interested in Black-backed Jackal (Canis mesomelas) and Caracal (Caracal caracal) diet and spatial ecology on farmland where they are heavily persecuted, along with farmers’ attitudes towards mesopredators and their management practices.
Socio-ecological mechanisms behind farmer–mesopredator conflict
<span style="font-weight: bold;">Kibale National Park (Uganda)</span><br>
Kibale National Park (Uganda)
PhD student David Mills (University of KwaZulu-Natal) used camera-trapping to study niche partitioning within a tropical forest small carnivore community. Leopards (Panthera pardus) have been extirpated from this forest, leaving the African Golden Cat (Caracal aurata) as the largest terrestrial, mammalian predator. In addition to Golden Cats, his main study species included the Serval (Leptailurus serval), African Palm Civet (Nandinia binotata), African Civet (Civettictis civetta), Servaline Genet (Genetta servalina), Rusty-spotted Genet (G. maculata), and Marsh Mongoose (Atilax paludinosus). He investigated spatio-temporal niche preference, looking for evidence of spatio-temporal release due to the absence of apex predators, and assessing their respective adaptability to human-altered landscapes.
Niche partitioning of small rainforest carnivores
<span style="font-weight: bold;">The southern coastline and the greater Dullstroom area (South Africa)</span><br>
The southern coastline and the greater Dullstroom area (South Africa)
MSc student Rowan Jordaan (University of Pretoria) used stable isotope techniques to compare diet and visual observations to investigate the diving behaviour of the African clawless (Aonyx capensis) and spotted-necked (Hydrictis maculicollis) otters occupying different habitats in South Africa. He was interested in behavioural plasticity and how these species vary their foraging ecology in relation to habitats that vary in climatic condition, prey availability and human disturbance.
The foraging ecology of South Africa’s two otter species
<span style="font-weight: bold;">Mpala Research Centre (Kenya)</span><br>
Mpala Research Centre (Kenya)
BSc student Lilian Gakuhi (Karatina University) used capture-mark recapture data to estimate seasonal densities of Slender Mongooses (Galerella sanguinea) on Mpala Research Centre. She was interested to find out whether densities change across seasons or differ from those estimated from a previous study at the same site conducted nearly two decades ago.
Density of Slender Mongooses
<span style="font-weight: bold;">Mau Forest (Kenya)</span><br>
Mau Forest (Kenya)
MSc student Aaron Onserio (Maasai Mara University) used camera-trapping, interviews, and dietary studies to examine the potential for conflict between small carnivores and humans living in the Mau Forest. He was interested to know if small carnivore diets from this region support local views on conflict related to small carnivores inhabiting the region.
Small carnivore–human conflict in the Mau Forest
<span style="font-weight: bold;">Laikipia Plateau (Kenya)</span><br>
Laikipia Plateau (Kenya)
MSc student Aaron Onserio (Maasai Mara University) examined fecal samples collected from White-tailed Mongooses (Ichneumia albicauda) and Common Genets (Genetta genetta) in central Kenya to compare dietary niche space between the two species, among sexes, and across seasons.
Comparison of diets between White-tailed Mongooses and Common Genets
PROJECTS IN NEED OF FUNDING

 We showcase here projects which are in the planning phase and which will require your generous support in order to become a reality. 

 

<span style="font-weight: bold;">South Africa</span>
South Africa
We are about to launch a long-term project to learn more about the ecology and behaviour of selected small carnivore species which live in the semi-desertic Kalahari region. Funding is needed to purchase lots of radio-collars, buy a cheap but reliable second hand field car, and cover fuel and other running costs. [Photo by E. Do Linh San]
Ecology and behaviour of Kalahari small carnivores
HAVE SOME FLAIR!

 Please donate to assist our research efforts and help us reaching our goals!

Sponsors donating $100 and above will be listed on this website*.

Sponsors donating more than $1,000 will be acknowledged in scientific papers and conference presentations* emanating from the corrresponding projects.

Private donors willing to fund the entirety of a research module (from $5,000) will be given the opportunity to visit the corresponding field project and assist the research team with data collection (e.g. live-trapping, radio-collaring,  radio-tracking, setting up camera-traps, etc.) during 1-2 week stays, as per arrangement and local conditions.

ASCaRIS adopts a full transparency policy and annual financial reports will be made available to sponsors and private donors on demand.

WE THANK YOU WHOLEHEARTEDLY FOR YOUR PRECIOUS AND GENEROUS ASSISTANCE!

*Kindly contact us per email if you want to remain anonymous.

JOIN OUR TEAM!

 Are you passionate about small carnivores too? Then do not hesitate to contact us in order to inquire how you can assist us. Join our team by carrying out a field or a lab project (students); by proposing, supervising and/or funding some new projects (project leaders); or by gathering information on small carnivores in specific countries (informants and country representatives). Kindly use the electronic form below to contact us. We are already looking forward to hearing from you!