Tree gyros are medium-sized mammals that live in the canopies of tropical forests. They are shy and move only at night, so little is known so far about their lifestyle or behavior.
However, researchers at the University of Helsinki have now been able to combine the combination of different techniques to observe the life of a local wood hyacinth species living in the fragmented mountain forests of Taita Hills, Kenya.
The movements of the night tree gyros were monitored using a thermal camera. The camera revealed which species of trees and vines were preferred by tree herbs, which species of leaves they ate, and which species provided them with suitable hiding places for the day. New data revealed, among other things, that tree gyros are social. They do not growl in the fork of a tree, as has been previously assumed.
Automatic acoustic recorders housed in forests inhabited by tree gyros collected diverse information about communication between animals and their other activities during the dark hours of the night. Thanks to the recordings, it was possible to estimate the number of tree herds in different forest locations in the Taita hills. The estimated population is a maximum of 2000-4000 individuals.
“In small forest fires, the cries of woodpeckers were seldom heard and only in the early morning. These few surviving animals do their best to avoid detection and the attention of potential poachers,” says Dr. Hanna Rosti. Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences, which has long studied wood gyros.
The trees ’hybrid forests were previously laser scanned from the air. The structural models of the forest made with airborne laser scattering equipment (lidar) confirmed that tree gyros are particularly favorable in places where the forest is dense and multi-structured and where the largest trees are more than 45 meters high.
“The results of this study will significantly advance the protection of tree hyrax not only in Taita Hills but also elsewhere in Africa. The methods used can be applied to other nocturnal animals that are difficult to get close to,” the professor rejoices. Jouko Rikkinen Museum of Natural History from the University of Helsinki.
All the research results will be of valuable practical benefit in trying to intensify afforestation efforts in the Taita hills by promoting the protection and conservation of numerous endemic species.