, Volume 97, Issue 12, pp 1107–1112 | Cite as

Sticky snack for sengis: The Cape rock elephant-shrew, Elephantulus edwardii (Macroscelidea), as a pollinator of the Pagoda lily, Whiteheadia bifolia (Hyacinthaceae)

Short Communication


Following the recent discovery of rodent pollination in the Pagoda lily, Whiteheadia bifolia (Hyacinthaceae) in South Africa, now the Cape rock elephant-shrew, Elephantulus edwardii (Macroscelidea, Afrotheria) is reported as an additional pollinator. Elephant-shrews, live-trapped near W. bifolia plants, were released in two terraria, containing the plants. The animals licked nectar with their long and slender tongues while being dusted with pollen and touching the stigmas of the flowers with their long and flexible noses. The captured elephant-shrews had W. bifolia pollen in their faeces, likely as a result of grooming their fur as they visited the flowers without eating or destroying them. The animals mostly preferred nectar over other food. This is the first record of pollination and nectar consumption in the primarily insectivorous E. edwardii, contributing to the very sparse knowledge about the behaviour of this unique clade of African mammals, as well as pollination by small mammals.


Cape rock elephant-shrew Elephantulus edwardii Macroscelidea Pollination Therophily Whiteheadia bifolia 



Thanks go to Haffie Strauss for friendly permission to work on her property, Connie Krug for providing traps, Anton Pauw for support (funding from the National Research Foundation of South Africa), him and two anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments on the manuscript, the Claude Leon foundation for awarding a research fellowship as well as the Ethics Committee of the University of Stellenbosch and CapeNature (Western Cape Nature Conservation Board, South Africa) for the necessary permits.

Supplementary material

114_2010_723_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (6 mb)
Slides 1–12 (PDF 6,097 kb)
114_2010_723_MOESM2_ESM.pdf (7.1 mb)
Slides 13–26 (PDF 7,238 kb)
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Slides 27–42 (PDF 8,177 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Botany and ZoologyUniversity of StellenboschStellenboschSouth Africa

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