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Tehuantepec Jackrabbit

Central America

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Lepus flavigularis

Endangered

  • The change in land use that occurs with the increase in human settlements has led to bad management and lack of control of productive activities.
  • The extent of occurrence of Tehuantepec Jackrabbits is jeopardized by habitat alteration and degradation by introduction of exotic grasses, human-induced fires, agriculture, cattle-raising activities, and human settlements in savannas.
  • These activities have resulted in fragmentation of the habitat of the Tehuantepec Jackrabbit, so that their existing populations are almost completely isolated, and most possess low genetic viability.

The Tehuantepec jackrabbit (Lepus flavigularis) is easily distinguished from other species of jackrabbits by two black stripes that run from the base of the ears to the nape, and by its white flanks. Underparts are white, upperparts are bright-brown washed with black, rump is gray, and the tail is black. This leporid is one of the largest jackrabbits and has large ears and legs. Adults weigh about 3500 to 4000 grams.

The Tehuantepec jackrabbit is a rare endemic of Oaxaca, México, and is only found along savannas and grassy dunes on the shores of a salt water lagoon connected to the Gulf of Tehuantepec in the Istmo de Tehuantepec Region. Three small populations persist isolated from each other. The former distribution of the Tehuantepec jackrabbit is not documented in detail, but it is estimated that the leporid's historic geographic range along the Mexican Pacific Coast on the Isthmus of Tehuantepec from Salina Cruz in Oaxaca to Tonalá in Chiapas, an area of perhaps only 5000 km sq.

The Tehuantepec jackrabbit has a polygynous mating system. The length of the breeding season may extend from February to December, with a peak in reproduction during the rainy season (from May to October). Litter size is one to four embryos, but the number of litters produced per female per year remains to be investigated.