|Keywords||Mammals, endemic, Endangered species, introduced and invasive|
Morocco has 92 species of wild terrestral and non-introduced Mammals, divided over 8 Orders, and of very variable specific wealth: ‘Rodents, Chiropter, Carnivores, Insectivores, Artiodactyles, Lagomorphes, Maroscelides, and Primates (Table 20).
The Order of Rodents, with 32 species, is the most important numerically. The most represented family is that of the ‘Gerbillides’ with 16 species, of which three are endemic. They have colonized the whole country, forsaking only the most anthropic biotopes, to the profit of commensal species (rats and mice). The ‘Murides’ regroup 8 species. The five other families are not represented by only one ‘taxa’. One family of Ctenodactylides is endemic to North Africa; the Dipodides are essentially forms which have adapted to arid areas.
The Chiropters, communally called bats, count 26 species: their distribution appears heterogenous. The four families making up this Order are unequally represented on the national territory.
The Carnivores, with 17 species actually, used to be better represented in Moroco, but the most remarkable representatives, such as the Atlas Lioin Panthera leo leo are extinct today.
The Insectivores are well represented with 8 species of which 5 belong to the genus Crocidura.
The Ungulates, represented by the only Artiodactyles, and after the extinction of the last great antilopes in the course of the middle of the century, are represented only but a relictual population (5 species) composed of fragmented populations, with the exception of the Wild Boar Sus scrofa which is present in all of Atlantic Morocco.
The Lagomorphes count only two species which belong both to the family Leporides.
The Mascroscelides, a homogenous group of 15 African species, are represented by only one species in Morocco: the Macrosclide ‘De Rozet’ Elephantulus rozeti, endemic to North Africa.
The Primates are represented by a monospecific Order in Morocco, with the ‘Macaque’ of Barbary Macaca sylvanus as the only species.
Remains found have permitted us to establish that only 18 species of Mammals (of which 15 are Ungulates and 3 are Carnivores) have disappeared during the period between the year -12 000 and the end of the 19th century. Thus, the first half of the twentieth century saw to it alone the disappearance of 6 species (of which 4 were Ungulates and 2 were Carnivores). The rhythm of extinction has therefore been multiplied by 32 for the Ungulates (see 39 in the case of the extinction of the dama Gazelle) and 91 for the Carnivores (see 182 in the case of the extinction of the Panther and Leopard). The 6 species which have recently disappeared, among are most notable are:
- The Atlas Lion lived in the entirety of the country (with the incursions in the high mountains up to 3200 m. of altitude), with the exception of Saharan regions too distant from water points. The species disappeared from the country in the 1920’s, the last individual having been seen in 1930 near Ouiouane in the Middle Atlas.
- One must note that the North African sub-species is irreparably extinct: in effect, the last lions of this sub-species, which can be found in the zoos of Temara, Francofort and Washington, have been hybrid with animals coming form sub-Saharan Africa.
- The ‘Serval’ Serval constantina lives normally in dense vegettaion and its presence in our country has never been proven in an indisputable manner. Its existence on the other hand has been irrefutably documented in Algeria, where survive perhaps the last animals of North Africa.
- The leptocere Gazele (Gazella leptoceros), endemic species to the Sahara, survives still in Algeria, though extremely rare. The only mention of this species is that of a male beaten near Boumia (High Moulouya), in 1954.
- The Oryx (Oryx dammah), endemic species to the Sahara, lived uup until the last century in pre-Saharan and Saharan steppes in the south of the Atlas (except Souss), avoiding the poorest region, the domain of the Addax. The introduction of modern firearms and of cars has been fatal to this species.
- The Addax (Addax nasomaculatus), another endemic species of the Sahara, was observed during the period between 1926 and 1941, in the region north of Bir Anzarane, which seemed to the northern limit of the species.
- The Bubale Buselaphus buselaphus, the largest of Moroccan antelopes, populated the entirety of plains and hills, avoiding the fully Saharan regions, at least until the seventeenth century. At the beginning of the century, the species still lived in the high plateaus of the east as well as, most probably, in the High Oriental Atlas and in the pre-Saharan edges. The last ‘Bubale’were killed in 1925 in the region of Missour and of Outat Ouled Al Haj, in the bassin of the Oued Moulouya: the species was observed towards 1945 in the region east of Foum Zguid. The species still survives in the Sahel, in eastern and southern Africa but it is a different sub-species of North African specific ‘taxon’ that, like the Atlas Lion, is irremediably extinct.
Most of the species who survive still in our territory have become considerably rare. Among the principle dangers which weigh on our Mammals: increasing demographic growth and pressures which result on natural ressources, deforestation for agricultural ends or for other activities of development, intensification and modernization of agricultural and pastoral activities, excessive deductions (commerce of trophees), climactic changes with the augmentation of the frequency of droughts and the advance of desertification…
The most endangered species belong to 4 Orders: Carnivores, Artiodactyls, Primates and Rodents (Table 21): it concens especially species of large Mammals characterized generally by a diurnal activity and easy to hunt down. It is certain that, if the measures of efficient protection are not put into action, numerous species are destined to disappear in the near future.
The Mammals present a relatively small endemism (Table 22). The Rodents, a very well represented Order in Morocco, counts 6 strictly endemic species. The Insectivores, notwithstanding their specific diversity, are represented only by one endemic species of the national territory. Certain species of Mammals present a regional endemism, especially on the scale of North Africa. It concerns particularly the “Macacque’ and two species of Insectivores. Nonetheless, and despite the extension of the area of distribution on the scale of the Maghreb, these species present themselves under forms of locacl populations with a restricted area of distribution even on dispersed islands.