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Endangered Blind Sand Mole Rediscovered.

Scientists are making a mountain out of a mole hill after finding a rare breed of sightless burrowing mammal not seen for the better part of a century.

Researchers spent two years searching the sand hills of South Africa for a critically endangered blind mole that navigates burrows using its sharp hearing and sensitivity to vibrations, the mole hunt team said recently.

De Winton's golden mole was last seen 87 years ago at a 2 km long sandy stretch of South Africa's northwest coast. Its survival is threatened by diamond mining in the coastal sands of its habitat, according to the IUCN Red List.

The team of scientists from the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) and the University of Pretoria that rediscovered the mole hope their findings will help turn Port Nolloth beach into a protected area.

"The search for De Winton’s golden mole was not easy by any means," Christina Biggs, a manager for the campaign which helped find De Winton's mole, said in the release. "They left no sandhill unturned and now it’s possible to protect the areas where these threatened and rare moles live."

The scientists searched up to 11 miles of dune habitat a day to find the mole, Esther Matthew, a senior field officer with the EWT, said in the release.

The "golden" part of the mole's name comes from the iridescent appearance of its fur coat, which secretes oil to make it easier for the mole to almost "swim" through sand.

The rediscovery of the mole is part of a campaign to search for lost species launched in 2017 by the nature charity Global Wildlife Conservation, which has been renamed Re:Wild.

The project won a Guinness World Record in 2020 for the number of species it is looking for: Over 2000 species of animals, plants and fungi that have not been seen in at least 10 years.


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