Schouteden's Genets (Genetta schoutedeni): Ringtails of Central, East, and West Sub-Saharan Africa

by DerdriuMarriner

Rusty-spotted panther genets have many subspecies. They range widely in sub-Saharan Africa. But Dr Philippe Gaubert's data show the Schouteden subspecies to be a separate species.

Uneasy goes the life of a genet specialist.
• The career in question leads its mammalogists into dusty museums and remote wildernesses.
• It may tax researchers with dust and pollen allergies since it involves examining old skins and skulls and wading through weighty tomes.
• It necessitates graveyard-shift hours in the wild since genets forage during the late evening and early night.
• It prioritizes patience in the age of camera-trapping, niche-modeling, and radio-telemetry since genets lead cautious, elusive life cycles and natural histories as conflict avoiders and escape artists.

But it revives the age of exploration.
• For example, the discovery of a new species, Schouteden's genet, rewards the diligent intelligence of genet specialists Drs. João Crawford-Cabral and Philippe Gaubert.

Feline Genet (Genetta felina): in elite group of genets -- along with Schouteden's Genets and Letabae Genets -- to be promoted from subspecies to new species

Wroclaw Zoo (Ogród Zoologiczny we Wrocławiu), Lower Silesia, southwestern Poland
Wroclaw Zoo (Ogród Zoologiczny we Wrocławiu), Lower Silesia, southwestern Poland

 

Nocturnal biology and unfrequented terrain sometimes account for some of the mystery in elusive mammalian life cycles and natural histories. Smithsonian National Natural History Museum mammalogist Dr. Kristofer M. Helgen's announced discovery in 2013 of South America's olinguito (Bassaricyon neblina) near savvy but unsuspecting locals attests to that deep truth. Other times reclusive mammals go detected but misclassified. For example, the first formal description of Schouteden's genets (Genetta schoutedeni) to specialists outside Africa originates in 1902 with the identification by Georg Friedrich Paul Matschie (August 11, 1861 – March 7, 1926), as:

  • Brandenburg an der Havel-born German mathematician and natural scientist;

  • Museum für Naturkunde (Berlin Zoological Museum) curator, mammalogist, professor, and second director;

  • Säugethiere (“Mammals”) publisher.   

 

Georg Friedrich Paul Matschie is credited with first description of Schouteden's genet.

1901 image: Zeitschrift "Berliner Leben", Heft 09 ("Berliner Leben" magazine, issue 9)
1901 image: Zeitschrift "Berliner Leben", Heft 09 ("Berliner Leben" magazine, issue 9)

 

Sixty-eight years after the Matschie description comes the formal identification in 1970 of a genet specimen by Dr. João Crawford-Cabral, as:

  • Centro di Zoologia do Instituto de Investigação Científica Tropical (Zoology Center of the Tropical Science Research Institute) director at Rua Junqueira 86, Lisbon, Portugal;

  • Specialist in the distribution, ecology, and systematics of Angola's mammals;

  • Specialist in genet taxonomy.

Thirty-five years later, genetic advances and scientific breakthroughs confirm the identicalness of the suahelica specimen from 1902 and the schoutedeni specimen from 1970 and the likelihood of the genet in question constituting a separate species. The conclusion and the recommendation represent the diligent intelligence of Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle (“National Natural History Museum”) mammalogist Dr. Philippe Gaubert.  

 

Common European Small-Spotted Genets (Genetta genetta): one of most dispersed of genet species

Deux genettes communes (Genetta genetta), parc animalier des Pyrénées, Argelès-Gazost, Hautes-Pyrénées, France.
Deux genettes communes (Genetta genetta), parc animalier des Pyrénées, Argelès-Gazost, Hautes-Pyrénées, France.

 

The two most dispersed and familiar genets are the African – Eurasian common small-spotted (Genetta genetta) and the rusty-spotted panther (G. maculata). Individually and together, they also claim the most number of genet subspecies. Multiple subspecies and wide-ranging bio-geographies demand regularly subjecting specimens to re-scrutiny. For example, the computer capabilities and the genetic analyses available in the twenty-first century help scientists to move from the domain of what appears to be true into the realm of what is true. It therefore is possible to examine whether a species really has a number of similar appearing and behaving subspecies populating vast tracts or whether some subspecies express different, previously undetected attributes which nevertheless warrant upgrading to species status. 

 

Schouteden's Genet's Belgian namesake: Henri Schouteden brought his expertise as zoologist and Congo specimen collector to Musée du Congo belge (renamed in 1960 as Musée royal de l'Afrique centrale [MRAC]), sited near Belgium's capital of Brussels.

Musée royal de l'Afrique centrale: Tervuren municipality, Flamish Brabant province, north central Belgium
Musée royal de l'Afrique centrale: Tervuren municipality, Flamish Brabant province, north central Belgium

 

The world's known wildlife ideally answers to two types of names:

  • Common, popular, trivial or vernacular designations from local usage;

  • Latin, scientific or taxonomic identifications per scientific consensus.

Common names can involve one word or many. Scientific names do not limit themselves to Latin but also may include Greek and mixed Greek and Latin terminologies. They follow binomial (“two-name”) and trinomial (“three-name”) nomenclatures according to whether the classification ends with the genus and the species or whether it extends to the subspecies. For example, the rusty-spotted panther genet's binomial classification is Genetta maculata, which literally means “large-spotted genet.” The trinomial classification may be illustrated by any of the rusty-spotted panther genet's subspecies, such as Genetta maculata schoutedeni

Schouteden's genets honor Henri Schouteden (July 9, 1881 – November 15, 1972), as:

  • Brussels-born Belgian natural scientist;

  • Congo specimen collector;

  • Musée d'Histoire NaturelleMusée du Congo belge, and Université coloniale de Belgique zoologist.

 

Giant Forest Genet (Genetta victoriae): one of eight genet species with overlapping homelands with Schouteden's Genets

illustration by colonial administrator-explorer-linguist-naturalist Sir Harry Johnston (June 12, 1858 - July 31, 1927)
Oldfield Thomas, On the More Notable Mammals Obtained by Sir Harry Johnston (1901), Vol. II, Plate V, opp. p. 85
Oldfield Thomas, On the More Notable Mammals Obtained by Sir Harry Johnston (1901), Vol. II, Plate V, opp. p. 85

 

They live semi-sympatrically (“same-rangingly”) with 8 genet species. Their bio-geographies overlap with:

  • Abyssinian genets (G. abyssinica): Ethiopia, Sudan;

  • Common genets: Angola, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda;

  • Giant genets (G. victoriae): Congo-Kinshasa, Uganda;

  • King genets (G. poensis): Congo-Brazzaville, Ghana;

  • Letabae genets (G. letabae): Mozambique;

  • Miombo genets (G. angolensis): Angola, Congo-Kinshasa, Mozambique, Tanzania;

  • Panther genets: Angola, Burundi, Cameroon, Centrafrique, Congo-Brazzaville, Congo-Kinshasa, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda;

  • Servaline genets (G. servalina): Cameroon, Centrafrique, Congo-Brazzaville, Congo-Kinshasa, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda. 

 

Servaline Genets (Genetta servalina): one of eight genets sharing homelands with Schouteden's Genets.

Cameroon
Cameroon

 

Bio-geographical overlaps sometimes accommodate similar habitats and other times articulate different niches. For example, Abyssinian genets alone claim:

  • High-altitude grass- and moor-lands;

  • Less arid pockets within deserts;

  • Steppes.

Only miombo genets consider as home Brachystegia tree-dominated woodlands. But unlike Abyssinian genets, they do not reject other terrestrial configurations. So Schouteden's genets never merge territorially with Abyssinian genets. But they sometimes overlap with miombo genets. They in fact share preferences for :

  • Forest – savannah mosaics, along with giant, letabae, miombo, panther, and servaline genets;

  • Montane forests, along with panther and servaline genets;

  • Rainforests, along with giant, king, panther, and servaline genets;

  • Woodland savannahs, along with letabae, panther, and servaline genets. 

 

Miombo Genet (Genetta angolensis): one of eight genet species in sympatry with Schouteden's Genets

Genetta angolensis
Genetta angolensis

Conclusion: A same-ranger with eight genet species transcends superficial likenesses to garner promotion as a new species

 

All nine semi-sympatric species customize the genet's spotted body and striped tail look. For example, Abyssinian genets do not have chin-area striping. Common genets display bright tail-bands super-wider than dark. King genets exhibit all-dark upper fore-limbs. Miombo genets have dark-backed fore-paws. Servaline genets juxtapose 9 – 11 each of dark and light tail-stripes. But letabae, panther, and Schouteden's genets superficially look alike, with:

  • Continuous mid-dorsal/mid-tail line;

  • Dark-backed hind-paws and upper-limbs;

  • Dark-tipped tail;

  • Light fore-paws;

  • Short tail-hairs;

  • Super-large spots;

  • Thin-striped chin;

  • Unmerged upper-limb spots.

Further research may uncover identifiers as subtly pivotal as the wider interorbital constriction and the more inflated caudal entotympanic bone by which scientists respectively differentiate letabae and Schouteden genets from panther genets. 

 

Rusty-Spotted Panther Genet (Genetta maculata):

Schouteden's Genet's superficial likenesses influenced placement as subspecies of Panther Genets.
Little Kwara camp on Okavengo Delta, northwestern Botswana
Little Kwara camp on Okavengo Delta, northwestern Botswana

Acknowledgment

 

My special thanks to:

  • Talented artists and photographers/concerned organizations who make their fine images available on the Internet;
  • Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University for superior on-campus and on-line resources.

 

Schouteden's Genet's floral landscapes: Angola's palm savannahs on Kwanda Island

mouth of Congo River: Kwanda Island, near Soyo, northwestern Angola
mouth of Congo River: Kwanda Island, near Soyo, northwestern Angola

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Schouteden's Genet's human synecology and landscape in Democratic Republic of the Congo

Typical Bandundu savanna village, Bandundu Province, west central Democratic Republic of Congo
Typical Bandundu savanna village, Bandundu Province, west central Democratic Republic of Congo
the end which is also the beginning
the end which is also the beginning

Schouteden's Genet's Angolan landscape: Luanda, Formerly Named São Paulo Da Assunção De Loanda, Angola, Africa

Luanda, Formerly Named São Paulo Da Assunção De Loanda, Angola, Africa in t

Schouteden's Genet's Congo landscape ~ Aerial view of Africa Mount Nyiragongo, Virunga Volcanoes, Democratic Republic of Congo: photo by Adrian Warren

10x14 Photo Puzzle with 252 pieces. Packed in black cardboard box 5 5/8 x 7 5/8 x 1 1/5. Puzzle image 5x7 affixed to box top.
Photo Jigsaw Puzzle - Ardea Wildlife Pets

Jungle Eyes: Green t-shirt

As with all jungle cats, Schouteden's Genets and other genets observe, quietly and invisibly, happenings and visitors from behind the screen of foliage and trees in forests and rainforests.
Jungle Eyes
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DerdriuMarriner, All Rights Reserved
DerdriuMarriner, All Rights Reserved
Updated: 10/01/2014, DerdriuMarriner
 
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