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Rare Crab Species Rediscovered After More Than a Century

An extremely rare crab, known as the Louisea yabassi, identified by its brown and rusty colour, has been rediscovered in Southwest Cameroon after been thought extinct for over 110 years.

During 2019 and 2020, Dr. Pierre A. Mvogo Ndongo, a carcinologist and lecturer at the University of Douala in Cameroon, set off his with his team in the forests of Ebo, in search for the species, after previously locating other species of crab in the same area. The expedition was divided into two separate field surveys, in hopes they could confirm the species continued existence. Doing this also allowed the team to collect and identify other types of freshwater crustaceans.

Much to the teams delight, during their 2019 expedition, they managed to discover over 20 individuals in and around two streams flowing into the Dibamba River in Cameroon’s Littoral region. A further 15 were located in the same area in the 2020 expedition.

Image of female crab of Louisea yabassi. Photo Credits - Pierre A. Mvogo Ndongo

To confirm their findings, the team compared the physical characteristics of the new individuals with the original ones, as well as their DNA. These two expeditions marked the first sighting of this rare crab species in over a century, which was once believed to of been extinct.

“It was fantastic – it felt very good to rediscover the specimens of Louisea yabassi and to be the first scientist to see this species for well over 110 years,” says Mvogo Ndongo, who also rediscovered the Sierra Leone Crab, one of Re:wild’s most wanted lost species. “Honestly, we thought that L. yabassi might well be extinct.”

One of Mvogo Ndongo’s next projects plans to point focus on the continued protection of the species of the Louisea yabassi species, and other endangered freshwater crabs. To do this, Ndongo will study population levels, ecology, habitat requirements and dangers to conclude how to best protect them from harm.  

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