On a recent trip to Sierra Leone, Cameroonian scientist Pierre Mvogo Ndongo found a species of fresh water crab that had not been seen by scientists for more than 200 years.
The Afzelius’s crab of the Afrithelphusa afzelii was first identified in the 18th Century, he told the BBC‘s Focus on Africa radio programme.
On a research visit, Prof Ndongo headed for the Moyamba district where sightings had been reported.
With the help of locals he found several Afzelius crabs, which have a brown shell and are about 20mm in size, he said.
“I feel very good to be the first to find the crab alive after 230 years,” Prof Ndongo told Focus on Africa.
He also found the Sierra Leone crab, which hadn’t had a confirmed sighting since 1955.
Camapign group Re:Wild says the lost species are land-living crabs that live in burrows on the rainforest floor, often far from permanent water sources.
They have specially adapted lung-type structures that allow them to breathe air, and some of their close relatives elsewhere in West Africa can even climb trees.