de winton's golden mole
The 21 species of golden moles, most of which occur only in South Africa, show many unique traits. They have an oily secretion that lubricates the fur with an iridescent sheen and gives rise to the name "golden mole," even though most are not golden in color. They have distinctive skeletal characteristics that enhance hearing underground so they can detect prey (since they are blind) and very unusual brain anatomy suggesting advanced navigation abilities based on a "sixth sense" that allows them to remember muscular activity patterns, known as "kinesthesia."
De Winton's Golden Mole is particularly threatened because it occurs in a very small area where natural habitat is threatened by large-scale alluvial diamond-mining operations. Re:wild has partnered with South Africa's Endangered Wildlife Trust to use new techniques in search of the lost mole, including eDNA, thermal imaging and scent detection using a trained sniffer dog. In 2021, the team collected more than 100 soil samples from different sites in Port Nolloth on the northwest coast of South Africa. They are testing the samples for environmental DNA (eDNA), hoping to discover if the golden mole they have detected is De Winton’s Golden Mole or a new species to science.