Tuesday 21 May
Riverine rabbit (Bunolagus monticularis)
What’s the World’s Favourite Species?Find out here.
Riverine rabbit fact file
- Find out more
- Print factsheet
Riverine rabbit description
This elegant rabbit is one of the most endangered terrestrial mammals in Southern Africa. It has very long ears, a soft and silky coat and a uniformly brown, woolly tail. A distinctive black stripe runs from the corner of the mouth over the cheeks (2), and it has white rings around the eyes (3). The belly and throat are cream in colour and the short limbs have particularly thick fur (2).
- Also known as
- boshaas, bushman hare, doekvoet, pondhaas.
- Length: 34 – 47 cm (2)
- Male weight: 1.5 kg (2)
- Female weight: 1.8 kg (2)
- Weight at birth: 40 – 50 g (2)
Riverine Rabbit Conservation Project:
EDGE of Existence:
- Relating to the sediment deposited by flowing water, as in a riverbed, flood plain, or delta.
- A species or taxonomic group that is only found in one particular country or geographic area.
- Active at night.
- In animals, a pattern of mating in which a male has more than one female partner.
IUCN Red List (December, 2004)
Animal Diversity Web (December, 2004)
Animal Info (December, 2004)
Karoo Hoogland Municipality (December, 2004)
African Fauna (December, 2004)
Riverine Rabbit Working Group (June, 2007)
- view the contents of, and Material on, the website;
- download and retain copies of the Material on their personal systems in digital form in low resolution for their own personal use;
- teachers, lecturers and students may incorporate the Material in their educational material (including, but not limited to, their lesson plans, presentations, worksheets and projects) in hard copy and digital format for use within a registered educational establishment, provided that the integrity of the Material is maintained and that copyright ownership and authorship is appropriately acknowledged by the End User.
Riverine rabbit biology
Differing from the usual rapid breeding of most rabbit species, the riverine rabbit produces just one kitten a year. In a polygynous mating system, males make use of their large home ranges to mate with every female in their territory (2). Between August and May (3), the females will make a nest in a burrow lined with grass and fur, and blocked with soil and twigs (4). They give birth to a helpless, blind and hairless kitten 35 days after mating (5). This underdeveloped offspring will remain will its mother for some time before dispersing (2).
The riverine rabbit is nocturnal, spending the night feeding on flowers, leaves and grasses, and the day in shallow depressions under bushes, hiding from predators such as black eagles. At night the droppings are firm, but during the day they are soft and are immediately eaten after deposition. This behaviour is known as coprophagia and occurs in rabbits as their digestive system is basic, and re-ingestion allows further extraction of calcium and phosphorous, as well as the absorption of vitamin B that is produced by the bacteria of the hind gut during the initial ingestion (2).Top
Riverine rabbit rangeTop
Riverine rabbit habitat
Inhabits areas alongside seasonal rivers with a thick cover of riverside vegetation (1).Top
Riverine rabbit status
The riverine rabbit is classified as Critically Endangered (CR) on the IUCN Red List 2004 (1).Top
Riverine rabbit threats
During the last 100 years, over two thirds of the riverine rabbit’s habitat has been lost, and today, only 250 mature riverine rabbits are estimated to exist in the wild. The majority of the land in the Karoo Desert is very unfertile, but the riverine rabbit occupies the flood plains of the seasonal Karoo rivers and its tributaries, which are fertile and have therefore been ploughed extensively in some areas. Removal of the natural vegetation along the rivers and streams prevents the rabbit from constructing stable breeding burrows, due to the loss of the soft alluvial top soils, and from feeding and escaping predation (1). Overgrazing by domestic herbivores also poses a threat to the rabbits’ habitat and results in habitat degradation and fragmentation (2). As rabbits and hares are adding to the menu of farm workers, they are shot or trapped with gin traps (1).Top
Riverine rabbit conservation
The Endangered Wildlife Trust’s Riverine Rabbit Working Group (EWT-RRWG) was established in August 2003, with the aim of establishing and conserving an ecosystem and socioeconomic conditions in the Karoo that can support a stable population of riverine rabbits. The EWT-RRWG achieves this through surveys, research and monitoring, environmental education and awareness, habitat management and rehabilitation, and conservation stewardship programmes. At present, none of the riverine rabbit habitat is protected, and the species only occurs on private Karoo farmland. Therefore, the establishment of Riverine Rabbit Conservancies is an important aim for the EWT-RRWG. Conservancies are areas established by a voluntary agreement with private landowners who have riverine rabbits and potentially suitable habitat on their properties. So far, three have been established in the Karoo. The conservation and management of riverine rabbit populations and their habitat is outlined in the conservancy constitution, and landowners strictly control or prohibit any hunting with dogs, and the use of gin traps (7). With the EWT-RRWG raising awareness of the riverine rabbit’s threatened status, and coordinating conservation efforts, it is hoped that the risk of extinction to this rare species can be reduced.Top
Find out more
For further information on this species, see:
Authenticated (11/06/07) by Dr Vicky Ahlmann, Riverine Rabbit Working Group, Endangered Wildlife Trust.
MyARKive offers the scrapbook feature to signed-up members, allowing you to organize your favourite ARKive images and videos and share them with friends.
Terms and Conditions of Use of Materials
Copyright in this website and materials contained on this website (Material) belongs to Wildscreen or its licensors.
Visitors to this website (End Users) are entitled to:
End Users shall not copy or otherwise extract, alter or manipulate Material other than as permitted in these Terms and Conditions of Use of Materials.
Additional use of flagged material
Green flagged material
Certain Material on this website (Licence 4 Material) displays a green flag next to the Material and is available for not-for-profit conservation or educational use. This material may be used by End Users, who are individuals or organisations that are in our opinion not-for-profit, for their not-for-profit conservation or not-for-profit educational purposes. Low resolution, watermarked images may be copied from this website by such End Users for such purposes. If you require high resolution or non-watermarked versions of the Material, please contact Wildscreen with details of your proposed use.
Creative commons material
Certain Material on this website has been licensed to Wildscreen under a Creative Commons Licence. These images are clearly marked with the Creative Commons buttons and may be used by End Users only in the way allowed by the specific Creative Commons Licence under which they have been submitted. Please see http://creativecommons.org for details.
Any other use
Please contact the copyright owners directly (copyright and contact details are shown for each media item) to negotiate terms and conditions for any use of Material other than those expressly permitted above. Please note that many of the contributors to ARKive are commercial operators and may request a fee for such use.
Save as permitted above, no person or organisation is permitted to incorporate any copyright material from this website into any other work or publication in any format (this includes but is not limited to: websites, Apps, CDs, DVDs, intranets, extranets, signage, digital communications or on printed materials for external or other distribution). Use of the Material for promotional, administrative or for-profit purposes is not permitted.