West African oyan

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West African oyan

Temporal range:

Middle Miocene-Present

Scientific classification Red Pencil Icon.png
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Suborder: Feliformia
Family: Viverridae
Genus: Poiana
P. leightoni
Binomial name
Poiana leightoni
(Pocock, 1908)
Leighton's Linsang area.png
Distribution of Leighton's linsang

The West African oyan (Poiana leightoni), also known as the West African linsang, is a linsang species native to the Upper Guinean forests in West Africa. [1] It is one of the least known small carnivores in Africa. [2]



The West African oyan's body is slender and long, with an elongated head and a pointed muzzle. Its fur is yellowish to reddish brown with dark oval shaped spots on the neck, and small spots on the back and legs. Its throat, chest and belly are lighter in colour and without spots. Its tail has 10 to 12 dark rings. Its body is 30–38 cm (12–15 in) long, with a 35–40 cm (14–16 in) long tail. [2]

Distribution and habitat

The West African oyan inhabits the canopy of tropical forests in West Africa. Two known records in the Ivory Coast date to the 1960s and 1970s. In Liberia, it was recorded in ten localities between the 1960s and late 1980s. Its presence in Sierra Leone and Guinea is uncertain. [2] [1]


The West African oyan is probably affected by habitat loss due to logging of tropical forests, and by hunting for bushmeat. [1]


The West African oyan was first described in 1907 by Reginald Innes Pocock based on a zoological specimen collected in Liberia. Pocock considered it a subspecies of the Central African oyan. [3] Since 1974, it is regarded as a distinct species. [4]

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  1. 1 2 3 4 Gaubert, P. & Do Linh San, E. (2015). "Poiana leightoni". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species . 2015: e.T44165A45220840. Retrieved 30 October 2018.
  2. 1 2 3 Van Rompaey, H. & Colyn, M. (2013). "Poiana leightoni West African Linsang (West African Oyan)". In Kingdon, J. & Hoffmann, M. (eds.). The Mammals of Africa. V. Carnivores, Pangolins, Equids and Rhinoceroses. London: Bloomsbury. pp. 251−252.
  3. Pocock, R. I. (1907). "Report upon a Small Collection of Mammalia brought from Liberia by Mr. Leonard Leighton". Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London (November): 1037–1046.
  4. Rosevear, D. R. (1974). The Carnivores of West Africa. London: Trustees of the British Museum (Natural History).