In 2020, scientists published a paper in PeerJ announcing the rediscovery of the little Somali Sengi, one of Re:wild’s original top 25 most wanted lost species, which made headlines around the world. The year before, a team of scientists including Steven Heritage, the late Galen Rathbun, and Houssein Rayaleh set out to Djibouti in search of the eccentric insectivorous mammal. Using interviews with local communities and results from scat analysis, the team set a total of 1,259 live traps at 12 locations. They caught a Somali Sengi in the very first trap they set, saw 12 sengis in total, and took the first-ever photos and video of live Somali Sengis. The species had not been documented since before 1968 in Somalia.
This sengi species was among the least well-known of the world’s 20 species of sengis, making it one of the last big mysteries of African mammalogy. It was previously known to science only from 39 individuals collected up to hundreds of years ago and stored today at museums.
Sengi are very swift small mammals that don’t belong to the family of true shrews, but are in their own family that is more closely related to elephants than shrews. They have long noses (thus the elephant part of their name) that they use to probe for insect prey.