Snakes

Snakes

Snakes are a huge family, with the msot recent count suggesting there are 4038 species around the world. These are split into 30 families. They are all carnivores and their predatory methods are wide ranging. As well as their adaptions for attack, they also have some effective defences. 

The picture above, shows a spitting cobra. This is a fascinating species, which has developed what amounts to 2 water pistols in its mouth, which it fills with venom and shoots at animals eyes. While its venom could cause problems or death if  injected, it is not set up to inject venom. The problem with many snakes defences, is that if you have got close enough to inject your venom you may kill the animal, but it is also likely to kill or injure you. The spitting cobra deals with this, by spitting at the threat from a distance. Not only is it incredibly painful if the venom goes in your eyes, but if it is not washed out rapidly, you are likely to loose your eyesight. We have been lucky enough to encounter spitting cobras twice. The first time, it was in a stables, and was being killed for the safety of the horses. However, the above photo comes from the second encounter, which occurred on our last trip into the Kruger national park.

In the first place, I am not going to try to list all species around the world (should this website make significant progress, I may do this in the future, but not for now) but instead to list some of the most fascinating. 

These are likely to be continually added to. If there is a specific species that interests you do fill in a species page, and help expand this list

Porcupine

African Porcupine

Photo credit: Eric Kilby from Somerville, MA, USA

Porcupine family

The porcupine family is a highly varied thing. There are a total of 11 species of old world porcupines (Africa and Asia and Europe) and a total of 20 species in the Americas (new world)

Firstly the old world Porcupines: Family Hystricidae

African brush-tail porcupine

This is a species of rat-like porcupine, found in a broad belt of Equatorial Africa, right across the continent from Guinea to Kenya. 

40-50cm long and weighing 3kg, with short legs and long body, it does look like a very large rat (without a long tail). It has webbed feet, and light small quills, which are thinner and more like a brush on the tail. It makes a rattling noise when it moves.

Living in family groups of around 8 (they are not territorial and will share ranges with other groups) they defend themselves, like other porcupines by charging backwards. They are herbivorous, eating leaves, flowers and fruits from the forest floor. They also eat roots and palm nuts. They are happy to eat from carrion (dead animals) be it the remains of a kill, or simply deceased animals. They will also happily invade crops of maize, cassava and bananas to feed, when these are close to the forest. Pregnancy lasts 110 days, and young are fully developed at 2 years old, and can live to around 13 years.

Despite it being used extensively for bushmeat – it is popular, the International Union for Conservation of Nature has rated its conservation status as being of “least concern”. At the current time, it appears that the bushmeat trade is not overly pressuring the population, as it has not apparently gone even locally extinct. Still, the population should be watched, as if the amount consumed were to increase, this chould change quickly.

 

Asiatic brush-tail porcupine

It is a nocturnal (and a good digger, spending much of its time under ground) occurring in subtropical and tropical montane forests. It is found on the forest floor, often in areas with profuse undergrowth.

It makes burrows, which may be occupied by up to three animals. The female produces one or two litters a year, of a single young, after a gestation period of around 100 days.

Known to be one of the rarest porcupines in South Asia, the species is protected under Schedule II of the Indian Wildlife Protection Act, though bizarrely not listed in CITES. It has been recorded from Namdapha National Park in India. It is present in a number of protected areas in Southeast Asia.

Studies have found that while it usually looks for food at night (usually for 3 hours after midnight) this behaviour is affected by other animals, which if present in its vicinity, will mean it will only be active at dawn and dusk. They eat similar things to their African cousins (species to the left.

They are hunted for both bushmeat and their quills, but again are currently listed as least concern. This population should also be watched to make sure that this does not change.

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Below is a video of this species in the wild

Cape porcupine

The Cape porcupine (also called Cape crested porcupine or South African porcupine, is a species of Old World porcupine) found in central and southern Africa. These are the largest porcupine species, as well as the largest African rodent.

They avoid dense jungle swampland, and driest of desert, and are not found above 2000m,but short of this they are widespread.

Cape porcupines eat mostly plant material including fruit roots, bulbs and bark. They have a long small intestine and large caecum, employing hindgut fermentation to break down the tough materials in their food, which includes bones and carrion, which they have been known to consume where they encounter it. They are often considered pests by local farmers, because they can feed on crops and damage trees, though in savannahs their debarking of trees may also be helping to prevent the development of denser forested environments. 

Within national parks, they are not generally seen often (partly as a result of being nocturnal). I have only seen them once in the Kruger, during a night drive. They are clearly more common than this, we have encountered their quills lying on the ground, all over the place.

Home range varies from around 2/3 -2 square km. 

Its first defence is to freeze, but it will charge backwards, if the threat continues. They can live for 10 years in the wild and even up to 20 in captivity.

Crested porcupine

The crested porcupine,  (also called the African crested porcupine) is native to North Africa (though it may be locally extinct in Egypt) and sub-Saharan Africa. It is also found in Italy, where the romans introduced it as an extra food source. While accurate estimates on the population size are not seemingly easy to find, Tuscany has a large enough population for it to be one of the more often sighted species when active (at night). Below, I have embedded some footage of an Italian Porcupine

It rarely climbs trees, but can swim well.

If disturbed, as other porcupine species, it will eventually charge backward. Given quills are not particularly clean, it can cause infection. Quill injuries have killed lions leopards and hyenas, as well as humans.

They are classed as least concern in the wild.

 

Below is a video of the crested porcupine in their native habitat. The video shows an African leopard trying to take a baby porcupine, however the parents are more than a match on this occasion

Indian porcupine

The Indian  porcupine is a rodent species native to southern Asia and the Middle East. It weighs 11-18kg and is 70-90cm long. It has similar looking quills to the African Porcupine, and has a similar diet.

 crested

While its lifespan in the wild is unknown, a captive female lived to 27 years.

It is listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List, and in parts of its range is common enough to be considered a pest.

 

 

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Long-tailed porcupine

The long-tailed porcupine is a species of rodent like other porcupines. It is found in Brunei, Indonesia, and Malaysia.

Usually weighing between 1.7kg and 2.3kg, they can weigh less. They are 28-48cm long, with a tail of around 24cm. They can drop their tail to save themselves from predators, though it will not regrow. They have large paws, and they are good climbers, allowing them to browse at the top of bushes and trees. While they are good seed dispersers, their feeding on trees can kill them. They are also considered nuisance by humans, as they can destroy crops.

They are listed as least concern.

 

Malayan porcupine

The Malayan porcupine or Himalayan porcupine is a species of rodent. The head and body measurement are around 56-74 cm and the tail is about 6–11 cm. They weigh around 10 kg-18 kg. They normally feed on roots, tubers, bark and fallen fruits. They also eat carrion, insects, and large tropical seeds. They forage at night and rests during the day. It may be found singly or in pairs. It can also swim and gnaw. The sow usually has one, but twins have also been recorded.

They are hunted for meat and traditional medicine, but currently have a conservation status of least concern.

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Sumatran porcupine

Found only on the island of Sumatra in Indonesia, this species is hunted for food. This appears to be yet to have any impact on the population as a whole, as it is still listed as least concern. This does require the scientific community to keep an eye on it, and make sure that the consumption of this species does not start causing its extinction.

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It can weigh up to 30kn and measure up to 1m in length.

 

Sunda porcupine

The Sunda (or Javan) porcupine  is a species of rodent. It is endemic to Indonesia. Due to the popularity of the hunting and consumption of the Sunda porcupine as an aphrodisiac, the Ministry of Environment and Forestry in Indonesia has listed this species as a protected animal as of June 2018.

As of yet, the IUCN listing stays at least concern.

A short video, little choice, just some facts (sorry about the music)

 

Thick spined porcupine (borneon Porcupine)

The thick-spined  porcupine  is a species of rodent It is endemic to the island of Borneo. it is found in a wide variety of habitats ranging from natural forest to agricultural land and from sea

 level up to 1200m. Although this porcupine is hunted for food, it is not  considered a concern due to its wide distribution and high tolerance for habitat changes.

In 1996, the species was Near Threatened, but by 2008, this had improved to Least Concern.

Philippine porcupine

The Philippine porcupine (also called Palawan porcupine) is a species of rodent endemic to the island of Palawan in the Philippines. It is known locally as durian or landak.

Its population is claimed to be stable, butkilled farmers. Common in some areas, the species is found in primary and secondary forest in the mountains and in the lowlands. This species also lives in caves and under tree buttresses or in rock crevices. It endemic and restricted to the Palawan Faunal Region. 

This mammal appears to have no natural enemies.  It’s 40–90cm long, with tail 2.5–20cm  and weighs 3.8–5.4 kg.It is listed as vulnerable by the IUCN

Andean porcupine

The Andean porcupine or Quichua porcupine is a species of rodent. It is found in the Andes of northern Ecuador and Colombia as well as in Panama. This porcupine is little known, but is probably arboreal, nocturnal and solitary like its relatives. The species is thought to be uncommon to rare and the population decreasing. It is threatened by deforestation, habitat fragmentation and agriculture. It is 60-80cm long (including tail), and weighs 2kg when fully grown. The ecology of this species is little known. Its behaviour is likely to resemble that of its close relatives in being nocturnal and arboreal, and feeding on fruit and leaves.

Although it looks different, it has sometimes been described as a subspecies of the bicolored-spined porcupine, however, genetic studies have shown it to be closest to the stump-tailed porcupine . Rothschild’s porcupine of Panama was formerly considered a distinct species, but phylogenetic evidence indicates that both are synonymous.

Its IUCN rating is data deficient, but given the destruction of its forest home, it is unlikely to be doing well. It is rarely seen, making it hard to study.

Bahai hairy porcupine

The Bahia porcupine, is a New World porcupine species endemic to the Atlantic Forest of south-eastern Brazil.  Sphiggurus pallidus was formerly considered a separate species but known from two young specimens only, is a synonym of this species.

Its conservation status is least concern.

Bicoloured spiney porcupine

The bicolored-spined porcupine (Coendou bicolor) is a species of nocturnal and arboreal rodent in the family Erethizontidae.

The head and body of Coendou bicolor measure about 543 mm, and another 481 mm is tail. The body is covered with dense spines, pale yellow at the base and black-tipped, and significantly darker on the midback. The bicolored-spined porcupine has a fully prehensile tail that is primarily free of spines.

Its conservation status is least concern

Black dwarf (Koopmans) porcupine

The black dwarf porcupine also called Koopman’s porcupine, is a porcupine species from the New World and is endemic to northern Brazil. It occurs in the Amazon rainforest east of the Madeira River and south of the Amazon River. It inhabits primary forest and possibly second growth. It was described as Coendou koopmani by Charles O. Handley Jr. and Ronald H. Pine in 1992, but was subsequently found to be identical to a species described in 1818. It is nocturnal and herbivorous.

Black tailed hairy porcupine

The black-tailed hairy dwarf porcupine is a porcupine species, found in Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Suriname and Venezuela.

This species was formerly sometimes assigned to Sphiggurus, a genus no longer recognized since genetic studies showed it to be polyphyletic. Its closest relatives are the frosted hairy dwarf porcupine, the brown hairy dwarf porcupine  and the streaked dwarf porcupine.

Brown hairy dwarf porcupine

The brown hairy dwarf porcupine is a species of rodent in the family Erethizontidae. Found in the Andes in Colombia and Venezuela, its natural habitat is subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests. It is not easy to study as it is only known from a few specimens and wasn’t recorded from 1925 until the 2000s. The porcupine is nocturnal and arboreal, feeding on leaves, shoots, and fruits. Habitat loss severely threatens it and it may even be extinct. Formerly listed as vulnerable, it is now designated data deficient. It is not known from any protected areas or conservation measures.

This species was formerly sometimes assigned to Sphiggurus, a genus no longer recognized since genetic studies showed it to be polyphyletic. Its closest relative is the frosted hairy dwarf porcupine.

Its conservation status is data deficient.

Paraguaian hairy dwarf porcupine – Coendou speratus ,

The Paraguaian hairy dwarf porcupine is a porcupine species from the family Erethizontidae. It is found in Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay.

They have a short tail and grey brown quills and feed on fruits, ant pupae, vegetables and roots.

This species was formerly sometimes assigned to Sphiggurus, a genus no longer recognized since genetic studies showed it to be polyphyletic. The population formerly recognized as the orange-spined hairy dwarf porcupine has been reclassified to this species. Its closest relatives are the bicolored-spined porcupine and the black dwarf porcupine.

Frosted hairy dwarf porcupine

The frosted hairy dwarf porcupine is a porcupine species in the family Erethizontidae from Colombia and northern and eastern Venezuela. It was formerly sometimes assigned to Sphiggurus, a genus no longer recognized since genetic studies showed it to be polyphyletic. The species lives in lowland tropical rainforest and cloud forest at elevations from 50 to 2,600m. Its closest relative is the brown hairy dwarf porcupine.

It is listed as least concern

Mexican hairy dwarf porcupine

The Mexican hairy dwarf porcupine or Mexican tree porcupine is a species of rodent. It is found in Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama, Mexico, Nicaragua and Belize.  Its closest relatives are the Andean porcupine, and the stump-tailed porcupine.

This porcupine has a pale head and a dark-coloured body. The length of head and body is 32cm-45cm, with a tail ranging from 20-36cm. The maximum weight is about 2.6 kg.

 This porcupine is covered with short yellowish spines but these are hard to see, due to the long black hair covering the body. Sometimes the spines on the shoulders and back are visible projecting through the hairs. By contrast, the head is hairless, revealing the yellowish spines. The snout is pink, broad and bulbous, and the eyes are small. The tail is prehensile, spiny and broad at the base, tapering to a point. This porcupine differs from Rothschild’s porcupine in that Rothschild’s is more obviously spiny and lacks the hairy coat.

Living in the trees, it uses its prehensile tail to hold onto branches. It is nocturnal and is usually more active on dark nights. The day is spent in a hollow tree, concealed on a leafy branch, or in highland areas, in a clump of bamboos. As it uses the same hiding place each day, a pile of droppings accumulates which produces a strong odour. The diet consists of buds, young leaves, fruits and seeds. It particularly favours fruiting trees such as Inga, Cecropia, Ficus and Brosimum.

Individuals normally live alone and are silent, but in the breeding season it is more vocal, emitting screams and yowls. The female usually bears a single offspring.

Its conservation status is least concern.

 

North American Porcupine

The North American porcupine, also known as the Canadian porcupine, is a large quill-covered rodent in the New World porcupine family. It is the second largest rodent in North America after the North American beaver. The porcupine is a caviomorph rodent whose ancestors crossed the Atlantic from Africa to Brazil 30 million years ago, and then migrated to North America during the Great American Interchange when central America became a bridge between the two continents. There are 7 recognized subspecies.

  • E. d. dorsatum
  • E. d. bruneri
  • E. d. couesi
  • E. d. epixanthum
  • E. d. myops
  • E. d. nigrescens
  • E. d. picinum

It has 30,000 quills all over its body (these are modified hair. It can raise and lower them as reqiured.

It also has a strong odour, which warns away predators. It is also a good climber. Natural predators of this species include fishers (a cat-sized mustelid), wolverines, coyotes, wolves,[American black bears, and cougars, as well as humans. The only known avian predators of this species are golden eagles and great horned owls. All the quills have barbs on them, which means that even if the porcupine is killed by the predator, they often die afterwards, from infection transmitted from the quills.

They can live for 30 years, but death is usually a result of starvation, predation, falling out of a tree or being run over.

As a species, it is least concern however areas like Mexico have an alarmingly low population.

Roosmalens dwarf porcupine

Found in northern Brazil,  it has not been assessed properly, and only a few specimens have been found

It is listed as data deficient

Rothschild porcupine

The Rothschild’s Porcupine is a mysterious animal in many ways. An uncommon and nocturnal species, it has barely been studied in the field and its behavior and ecology remain poorly known. Its taxonomic status is also in dispute. Most interestingly for our purposes, the Rothschild’s Porcupine has never been recorded with certainty outside of Panama and so is officially regarded by many sources as a Panamanian endemic. With some luck, these porcupines can be found on nighttime excursions, or even at daytime roosts, at or around all three Canopy Family properties, although they are most often seen near the Canopy Tower.

The Rothschild’s Porcupine is almost entirely covered with black and yellowish-white spines, excepting its underbelly and its bulbous pink nose. Its tail is prehensile, as its lifestyle is mostly arboreal. It is active at night. Its diet includes fruits and leaves, and Canopy Family guides have observed that it is especially fond of Membrillo fruits.

The natural predator most often hunting it, is the Ocelot.

 

Santa Marta Porcupine

The Santa Marta porcupine is a rodent . It is known from dry forests on the lower slopes of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta and Serranía del Perijá mountains of northern Colombia, at altitudes below 500 and 1100 m, respectively, and intervening lowlands, and may also be present in nearby parts of Venezuela.

There is some debate as to whether it is a subspecies, or not, we will leave this conversation to finish before deciding.

Spine tailed porcupine

Streaked dwarf porcupine

Stump tailed porcupine

Brazilian or Prehensile tailed porcupine

Red Colobus Group

The Red colobus group (genus Piliocolobus)

The red colobus group is one which has had a surprising number of new species discovered in recent decades. Being primates, they are usually fascinating and you can sit and watch them for lots of time. There are many groups that have been isolated in small fragments of forest, which makes conservation hard.

Little clear information is there on many of these species, perhaps unsurprisingly, given how long they managed to stay under the radar. I have attempted to include a video with each. Some are short clips of the animal, one is the search for a close to extinction (miss waldrons) and several is simple some information over images.

As with similar groups of animals, as the links for each of these species start arriving, they will be given an entire page of their own. Help this be required as soon as possible.

Bouviers red colobus monkey: 

Not having been seen for 4 decades until 2015, they are restricted to 3 small areas (this map is the DRC) in purple highlighted. First described in 1887 it was considered a subspecies of Pennants colobus, but was reassessed as separate species in 2007.

In 2008 and 2016 it was assessed as critically endangered, and none have been seen in the wild since 1970. A few possible sightings in the 2000 were further south than previously known.

In 2019 the IUCN reclassified it as endangered because of “known populations in norther DRC”. It is still rarely sighted despite many surveys

Ugandan red colobus monkey: 

Also known as the ashy red colobus, it was recognized as a separate species (up from being a subspecies of the western red colobus monkey) in 2001, though there are still plenty of experts who disagree with this change. It is found in 1 regions of Uganda (17,000 alone) and 4 regions of Tanzania.  Possible it may be found in Rwanda, Burundi and the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. Males weigh around 10kg, with the females weighing 7kg.

As you will see, it is one of the possible subspecies of the Central Africa red colobus. Time will tell.

 

There are thought to be around 20,000 left in the wild, and are classed as endangered, though it is listed as having declined my 89% (presumably since 2001 when it was declared a separate species.

Central African red colobus monkey:  

This species does not appear to be an individual species, rather a general name that many of the above species have at one time been grouped with. These include

  • Foa’s red colobus 
  • Lang’s red colobus 
  • Oustalet’s red colobus 
  • Lomami red colobus 
  • Tana River red colobus 
  • Semliki red colobus 
  • Ugandan red colobus 
Due to these species being listed here, they will not be covered separately (unless their status changes).

Niger Delta red Colobus monkey: Found in Southern Nigeria, it was originally considered a subspecies of the western red colobus, then considered a subspecies of Pennants red colobus. There are only thought to be 50 left. Below is a 4 minute video from its habitat which shows it in the wild – makes me want to be there.

Pennants colobus monkey: 

Preuss red colobus monkey: 

Tholon (or Tshuapa) red colobus monkey: 

Western red colobus monkey: 

Zanzibar red colobus monkey: Found on the southern half of the main island of the Zanzibar archipelago (Unguja), it is also known as the Kirk redo colobus, after the discoverer. Classified as endangered in the mid 1990s, its population is still decreasing. It is believed to have been isolated when sea levels rose after the last ice age – however, as with other species trapped like this, they can evolve fast. Genetic analysis suggests a split 600,000 years ago.

The local word for it means poison monkey, due to its bad smell, this has lead to some targeting. 1600-3000 survive, with about half in protected areas.

Udzungwa red colobus monkey: (other names include the Uzungwa red colobus or Iringa red colobus) It is endemic to riverine and montane forest in the Udzungwa Mountains in Kilolo District of Iringa Region in Tanzania. It is threatened by habitat loss, though most of the land it is found on is protected (90% falls within the Udzungwa national park, I have seen one while visiting). Of course the problem with this, is that its range is not large, so it can never have a large population. 

The current population is roughly 15,400. The IUCN ranks this species as endangered

Miss Waldrons red colobus monkey: Native to west Africa, it was previously considered a subspecies of the wester red colobus monkey. It has not been officially sighted since 1978 and was considered extinct in 2000, however, new evidence suggests that a very small number of these monkeys may be living in the southeast corner of Côte d’Ivoire. The IUCN Red List notes Miss Waldron’s red colobus as critically endangered.

High-canopy forests (rainforests) in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire serve as the exclusive habitat of Miss Waldron’s red colobus. The monkey usually formed large family groups of 20 or more. It is a social and highly vocal animal, frequently communicating with others using loud calls, shrieks and chattering. It eats fruit seeds and canopy leaves, and is eaten in turn, by western chimpanzee leopard and python.

It was the first primate classed as extinct in the 21st century. However, evidence collected are highly compelling.

However, primatologist W. Scott McGraw from Ohio State University has been collecting evidence of the monkey’s continued existence during his expeditions to Côte d’Ivoire over the past several years:

  • In 2000, McGraw was given a black monkey tail which DNA tests proved to be from a red colobus. The hunter who gave McGraw the tail claimed he had shot the monkey the previous year.
  • In 2001, an Ivorian hunter gave McGraw a piece of reddish monkey skin also believed to have come from Miss Waldron’s red colobus.
  • Also in 2001, McGraw received  a photograph of what appeared to be an adult Miss Waldron’s red colobus which had been killed. Experts who have examined the photograph attest to its likely authenticity. 

Presumably, a relict population of the monkey still is found in the Ehy Forest (also Ehi or Tanoé Forest) near the mouth of the Tano River into Ehy Lagoon, at the border between Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana. Miss Waldron’s Red Colobus is among the 25 “most wanted lost” species that are the focus of Re:wild’s “Search for Lost Species” initiative. 

Whether a surviving population will be found, or if there are just a handful left, we will have to wait and see. The Below video is from this area, while it is in Hindi, it is worth watching with the subtitles on.

Hyrax

Rock hyrax

Hyrax

The Hyrax is a family of species. All falling in the Order Hyracoidea, and the family Pracaviidae. While their look would not suggest it, this family is very closely related to the elephant

Within this family, there are 3 Genus, 2 with just one species, and one with 4. You will see labeled pictures below. Click on any to find out more.

                          Heterohyrax                                                                                                                                                 Dendrohyrax

                         Procavia

It should be noted, that the Benin tree hyrax was only decided in recent years, as such it is still debated as to whether it is a separate species, or just subspecies.

As many as 50 subspecies have been described. As destinations for these different species start to get added, I will add these to the grid above. As with all species on this website, we are eager to work with people on the ground, to allow tourism to see this species. given how well hyraxes do outside reserves, it may well be a species easier seen in areas of local population. Get in touch if you have a destination to list (link at the top of the main page. While fascinating to watch (we watched one eat a whole banana skin) they are often overlooked. They have less status than lions and elephants, but can also be found in more places

Yellow-spotted hyrax, has a recognized 25 subspecies, though given the vast range of this species, this is perhaps not a surprise. They generally live in rocky areas and rock Kojes, that can be seen littered across savannah

It is (in some areas) hunted by humans, which has caused local problems. They are browsers, eating leaves twigs and other edible things it comes across (I have seen one eat a banana skin.

It is listed as least concern

 

Southern tree hyrax It is  found in temperate forests, subtropical or tropical dry forests, subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests, subtropical or tropical moist montane forests, moist savanna, and rocky areas.

It may be found at elevations up to 4,500m across a wide range of countries. It is largely nocturnal. The males call is an alarming series of shrieks.

It is listed as least concern.

Western tree hyrax, also known as the western tree dassie or Beecroft tree hyrax,

Western tree hyraxes tend to be solitary, and only occasionally are found in groups of two or three. They are nocturnal and generally feed at night. It has been noted that this species is an especially adept climber. The gestation period is about eight months with a litter size one or two young.

It is listed as least concern

Rock or cape hyrax has 5 recognized subspecies, again, unsurprising given its vast range. Generally having a hide within a natural rock cavity, Rock hyraxes are social animals that live in colonies of up to 50 individuals. They sleep in one group, and start the day, warming up in the sun

They are also listed as least concern

Eastern tree hyrax is the most localized of the tree hyrax species, only found in places within a narrow band of lowland and montane forests in Kenya and Tanzania and close-by islands. A solitary species, it lives in tree cavities, and communicates with others, through scent marking and high pitched calls. 

They are classed as near threatened by the IUCN, with poaching being a big threat, particularly on Mount Kilimanjaro and throughout the Eastern arc mountains.

Benin tree hyrax is found in the region between the Niger and Volta Rivers in West Africa, hence the name.

It can be distinguished from neighbouring Dendrohyrax dorsalis by its night-time barking vocalizations, its shorter and broader skull, and its lighter pelage.

This is a species that is not currently agreed. However, if/when it is, it has been assessed by the IUCN as being least concern

Manatees and the Dugong

Dugong and Manatees

The family Sirenia consists of 2 genus, the Dugongidae (only extant species is the Dugong)  and  Trichechidae which contains the 3 Manatee species.

The Dugong is the species in the top left (if you cannot pick it out). The Steller sea cow was a close relation of the Dugong

The big difference, is that unlike Manatees with a paddle shaped tail, where as Dugongs have fluked tails.

As always, as links are made to help with tourism, these will either appear below, or each species will be spun off to have its own page. Ecotourism need not have a big impact on the species and its natural behaviour, however, by giving them financial value to the local population you greatly increase the liklihood of survival as well as increasing the standard of living for local people.

 Should you work in tourism dealing with these species, do get in touch, there is a link at the top of the home page, with a simple form.

Dugong– The only surviving Dugongidae after the stellers sea cow (described in 1741 and hunted to extinction by 1768 for hide meat and fat) was lost.

It is found in the waters of around 37 countries in the Indo-west Pacific. It has recently become functionally extinct in Chinese waters, and may well be lost entirely in the near future. Its thought that while their current range is highly fractured, it is probably still a similar limit to before. These countries between them, give around 140,000km of coastline, and this area maps with where the correct species of sea grasses grow. The worldwide population is thought to have declined 20% in the last 90 years, though this is pretty good compared to many other species.

There are currently thought to be 100,000, with its conservation status being Vulnerable

Amazonian Manatee-Found in parts of the Amazon basin, throughout parts of Brazil, Colombia Peru and Ecuador.

It is the smallest of the surviving Manatees. Weights fall between 7,5kg and 350kg, with a 75cm-225cm length.  Given that it is likely decreasing, it is going to be below this now.

They are exclusively herbivorous, feeding on water lettuce and hyacinth. During a day, they can consume around 8% of their bodyweight. This mostly occurs during the wet season, during the dry season they return to the main river and survive on their fat reserves. They have a prehensile snout (like a less developed trunk) for feeding

They are considered Vulnerable, with the last count giving an upper limit of 10,000, however, this was in 1997. 

West-Indian manatee- So named,  because they were first sighted amongst a group of Islands called the West-Indies in the Caribbean – it is no-where near India (as you can see).  They live in shallow coastal areas. They have a prehensile snout (like a less developed trunk) for feeding. Unlike elephants, they are not limited to 6 sets of teeth, but only having molars (24-36) it is a simpler layout. As their range includes Florida (well known from the Everglades) this species is well known in places. They are hard to count, living in murky water,

Listed as vulnerable, the whole population is not thought to be greater than 10,000. The 2 subspecies are the Florida manatee (around 2500) and the Antillean Manatee which is found off the Atlantic coast of Mexico and central south America (particularly in the waters of greater Antilles) potentially, historically found along the coast of Texas (and as far north as Dennis, Tennessee).

African Manatee- (or West African Manatee) Although found both on the coast and inland, there is no significant genetic difference between these populations. African Manatees can be found in West African regions which include a wide range of countries – requiring cross nation action to save them. Manatees are found in brackish waters to freshwater: in oceans, rivers, lakes, coastal estuaries, reservoirs, lagoons, and bays on the coast.

The areas with the highest manatee populations are Guinea-Bissau, the lagoons of Côte d’Ivoire, the southern portions of the Niger River in Nigeria, the Sanaga River in Cameroon, the coastal lagoons in Gabon, and the lower parts of the Congo River. Alone amongst manatee species, the African manatee is Omnivorous, eating clams and molluscs as well as fish found in nets (can make up 50% of diet). They are more adaptable than other manatees, being able to survive in salt water (though they need access to fresh water to drink).

They are nocturnal, but many countries, a dead manatee is worth a lot to hunters. They are listed on CITES Appendix 1 with a population under 10,000. Cote d’Ivoire has a population of 750-800. Some of the biggest populations still live in Gabon, status is unknown in many areas. There is much tourism potential – worth a lot in Florida.

 

Pangolin Family – Manoidea

Pangolins or the family Manidae

Pangolins are a strange group of animals. There is little other animals that look like them. Oddly, they are in the same supergroup as Bears dogs cats and other carnivores, though given that they eat insects they are carnivores. Indeed, in the past there was an order Insectivora, however this order has been abandoned, as it turns out some insect-eaters are not closely related (indeed, while often looking similar it appears that this is generally a case of convergent evolution – i.e. similar habits and similar requirements requiring the same body parts, so you end up with a similar animal.

Anyway, in this instance, it is not surprising, as all of the pangolins are part of the same tribe – sister genera essentially. There are quite a few ” cousins” species at one point but all these have gone. I would hope, that at some point people would stop believing that Keratin (a pangolin scales is made of the same substance as human nails, yet while chewing your own nails is seen as bad manners, for some reason pangolin scales, like items like rhino horn, are claimed to be able to cure everything from headache to erectile difficulties. Of course, there is no scientific case for this belief, but that has not stopped the price of these scales has reached $3000 dollars per kg, with an animal holding about half a kg (the most scaly is the Philippines pangolin, which holds almost a kg – this is the equivalent of almost a year of a local salary, unfortunately making it well worth it, to spend months looking for this rare animal)

The Manidae (in ancient roman religions this was meaning spirits- chthonic deities of deceased loved ones )  includes 3 genera.

Manis contains all of the surviving Asian Pangolins known as the Asian Clade, though the last 3 are in Subgenus: Paramanis – southeast asian pangolins

Please note, I have not included Manis .sp which is a proposed fifth Asiatic species of this family, and this is still a long way from being confirmed.

Due to their cryptic nature, and current hunting pressures, there is little tourism around these species, and little likelihood of any in the near future. As such, while I would like to separate these species out into their own pages, it is unlikely to ever be necessary within the scopes of this website. Having said this, I am looking for partners, should anyone be working with tourism of these species, do get in touch through the link at the top of the page – we can mask the location, but are keen to help give living pangolins a worth as soon as possible.

Below is a list of each species, with a video of them. We hope to add links to go see them, and support their long-term future, we will have to see if tourism of these strange animals every takes off.

Chinese Pangolin

The Chinese pangolin is listed as critically endangered, having had an 80% decline in its population in 21 years (or 3 generations). Its threat is poaching for the illegal wildlife trade.

It is thought that at most 10,000 remain now. Given the huge number poached from elsewhere each year, it is highly unlikely that poaching for this species has stopped. They may well be hunted into extinction in the near future.

Indian (thick tailed) pangolin

The Indian pangolin (also known as >thick-tailed pangolin and scaly anteater) is a species found on the Indian subcontinent. It is listed as endangered, and CITES appendix 1

The size of the population is unclear (generally all estimates are very vague as they are usually secretive nocturnal animals rarely seen by humans

Philippine (Palawan) Pangolin

The Philippine pangolin (also known as the Palawan Pangolin) is only found in the Palawan district. Its habitat includes primary and secondary forests, as well as the grasslands that surround it.

It is listed as critically endangered by the IUCN, though with no idea of the former population, and no idea of the current one, it is hard to have any idea. People estimate that the population has fallen by 95% in the last 40 years.

Sunda (Malayan or Javan) Pangolin

The Sunda Pangolin (also known as Malayan & Javan pangolin) is found throughout Southeast Asia, including Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, and the islands of Borneo, Java, Sumatra and the Lesser Sunda-Islands. It lives in forests (including plantations) and spends much time in trees.

It is listed as critically endangered, with a  further 80% decline expected in the next 20 years unless something changes. Positive news, is that unlike elsewhere, where locals don’t see pangolins anymore (because there are so few) here they are still seen. The video is a rescued baby of this species.

In the African Clade, there are 2 subfamilies each containing 1 genus, and each containing two living members 

                 Smutsiinae (large african pangolins )                                                                                                             Phatagininae (Smalll african pangolins)                                                         Genus: Smutsia  (African ground pangolin)                                                                                                    Genus: Phataginus  (African tree pangolin) 

Giant pangolin

Found from west Africa to Uganda, it weighs 30-40kg and can grow to 1.8m long (including the tail, which is almost as long as its body). It is found in savannah, forest and rainforest, anywhere with large termite populations and a source of water.

They are threatened by foolish beliefs about the medicinal value of pangolin scales – education does help, and much work is being done to deal with the demand in Asia. Demand has dropped dramatically in China, though places like Vietnam have recently developed a desire for similar things.

The penalty needs to be huge, in order to stop the slaughter before we loose these unique species.

The giant pangolin is CITES appendix 1, meaning all trade is banned. It is thought to be extinct in Rwanda. Part of the problem with trying to conserve a species like this, is that it is so hard to see in the wild – without expertise, you could share land with large numbers of pangolins and never see one – as such estimates of the size of the population are hard to come by.

Ground (Temminck) pangolin

Found throughout Southern and Eastern Africa, the ground pangolin has a length between 56cm and 1.6m, with the tail measuring up to 70cm.

It is also known as the Temmink pangolin. They are classed as vulnerable, and prefer savannah woodland, with plenty of scrub. It is given a vulnerable rating, as it has declined by more than 10% in the last 9 years and are expected to have declined by a further 30% or so in the next 18 years – a decline of 30-40% over 3 generations is the definition.

While conservative estimates, suggest that just 10,000 are trafficked each year, a more reasonable estimate would be 250,000 ever 2 years, or more than 10 times the original estimate.

Unfortunately, being shy and nocturnal, it is rarely seen making it very hard to know how many are left in the wild. This obviously makes it hard to know which areas have healthy populations, and which have been poached out.

We need to do better. Finding more out about this fascinating animal (and assuming we can end the poaching) these weird creatures might be capable of providing large tourism income, even in relatively small reserves. Having a density (in good parts of South African lowveld) of as high as 0.12km squared (0.3 per square mile). While this is low, it does suggest that even a small reserve might have 100 of these animals.

Long-tailed (black bellied) pangolin

Also known as the black-bellied pangolin, its name comes from its appearance. It has a long tail, and black hair on its stomach.

It is usually 30-40cm long with a tail 60-70cm, and generally weights between 2 and 2.5kg. The tip of this species tail is bare, and slightly prehensile, allowing it to feel around and hold onto branches as the animal works its way around the treetops.

Interestingly, unlike other pangolin species this one is diurnal or active during the day (though this may be an adaption to not be in competition with the tree pangolin, which shares a similar range). They communicate with other individuals through scent. Found in moist, tropical riverine and swamp forest environmentsthey have been found in partially cleared forests bush, as well as farm-land, generally former lowland rain forests. They are almost exclusively found in trees, and at that, high in the forest canopy. They prefer to live deep in the interior part of the forests, avoiding areas too near the outside.. They are capable swimmers, and are usually found near water, often dropping off branches into the water below.

Their scales have become relatively good camouflage, as well as an extremely good defence mechanism (not only does a predator find it hard to get inside, once it has rolled up, but each scale can also be sharp. 

Given their ability to live in disturbed habitat, it is really only the poaching that threatens this species.

Tree (white bellied) pangolin

Also known as the white bellied pangolin, or the three-cusped pangolin, they are more common than the long-tailed pangolin. Measuring 33-43cm long, with a tail 49-62cm, they are smaller than some of the other species. There are 2 recognized subspecies, one confined to Uganda and another everywhere else.

Also relatively tolerant of changes to the environment, they can do reasonably well on plantations. It is the most common pangolin found as bushmeat, and its population is thought to have declined 20-25% between 1993 and 2008 (3 generations). As a result, its conservation status has moved from least concern in 1996 to becoming officially endangered in 2019. 

Further rare footage of a Pangolin (and an aardvark) looking for food, from the BBC documentary 7 worlds one planet. We will add links to go and see each of these as we get them. They will appear at the bottom of the page

3.4.5 Peleinae, Alcelaphinae, Hippotraginae

Subfamilies 3. Peleinae, 4. Alcelaphinae, 5. Hippotraginae

The subfamily 3. Peleinae (one species)

Grey Rhebok

Grey Rhebok

The grey rhebok or grey rhebuck, locally known as the vaalribbok in Afrikaans, is native to South Africa, Lesotho, and Eswatini (Swaziland). The specific name capreolus is Latin for ‘little goat’. Generally confined to the higher areas of Southern Africa, they typically inhabit grassy, montane habitats – for example, sourveld – usually 1,000 metres (3,300 ft) above sea level, and carry a woolly grey coat to insulate them from the cold. They are not strictly limited to this habitat as they can be found in the coastal belt of the Cape, almost at sea level.

The grey rhebok is listed as “Near Threatened”, with a population of between 10,000-18,000

4. Subfamily Alcelaphinae - Sassabies, Hartebeest, Wildebeest (6 species)

Hirola

The HIrola ( also known as the Hunters hartebeest or hunters antelope) is a critically endangered species. It was named by H.C.V Hunter (a big game hunter and zoologist) in 1888. It is the only member of the genus Beatragus, and it currently has 300-500 individuals living in the wild (there are none in captivity).

It is a widely known fact, that should the Hirola be lost from the wild, it will be the last species in its genus, and therefore the first mammal genus to go extinct in Africa in the modern era. Locals have got behind this species, with 17 conservancies protecting much of the area. There are even efforts to make some of this area devoid of predators, so as to help this species bounce back faster.

Hirola

Tsessebbe, other names regularly used include Topi Sasseby and Tiang

Tsessebbee

The Tsessebbe is part of a group of so called species, which are actually subspecies (there are 5 or 6 subspecies recognized

It is closest related to the Bangweulu Tsessebe, Less so, but still very close to the Topi, Korrigum, Coastal Topi and teh Tiang subspecies. Even the Bontebok is very closely related.

  •  Tsessebbes have around 300,000 living wild
  • Korrigum (Senegalese Hartebeest) in 2004, it was numbered 2650, split between 2 national parks. They situation has not improved
  • Topi are doing well with over 100,00
  • Currently, the Tiang still number very high.

Bontebok

Found only in Southern Africa, its range includes South Africa, Lesotho and Namibia

There are 2 subspecies:

  • Bontebok, found around the western cape -2500-3000 (vulnerable IUCN)
  • Blesbok, found in the high-veld. Closely related to the Tsessebe has a population of around 120,000 (Least concern IUCN)
The majority of this is in protected reserves, meaning that the current threat is low and this species should keep growing
Bontebok

Hartebeest

Hartebeest

The Hartebeest – as many as 70 subspecies, local variants and similar have been suggested, however there is only one currently recognized species.

Overall, the species is listed as least concern with a population of around 360,000. The red hartebeest has a population of 130,000, but at the other end the Swaynes hartebeest in Ethiopia is only thought to number 800 in the wild. The Bulbul hartebeast (light blue) is extinct. The Lelwel Hartebeest(green) is considered endangered and has around 70,000 members. The western or Major hartebeest has around 36,000. What is clear, is that if you are travelling to an area where the local hartebeest is struggling, it would be we worth paying to see them, so as to give a value to them

Blue Wildebeest

  • Other names include common wildebeest, white-bearded gnu or brindled gnu.

There has been five subspecies recognized:

 

  • C.t.taurinus (Burchell, 1823), the blue wildebeest, common wildebeest, or brindled gnu Inhabits the dark brown range

  • C. t. johnstoni (Sclater, 1896), the Nyassaland wildebeest, inhabit orange (Tanzania, Mozambique Malawi)
  • C. t. albojubatus (Thomas, 1912), the eastern white-bearded wildebeest, found in the Gold (beside the Yelow)
  • C. t. mearnsi (Heller, 1913), the western white-bearded wildebeest, its range is shown in yellow
  • C. t. cooksoni (Blaine, 1914), Cookson’s wildebeest, is restricted to the Luangwa Valley in Zambia. This is the mighter brown

In addition, the distinctive appearance of a western form, ranging from the Kalahari to central Zambia, suggests that subspecies mattosi (Blaine, 1825) may also prove distinct from subspecies taurinus. The western form can be recognised even at a distance by its upright mane, long beard, and minimal brindling.

There are around 1.5 million of this species living in the wild – so they are not endangered. Having said this, given that 1.3 million (almost 90% of them live in the Serengeti ecosystem), were something to happen, we could be in a very different position..

Blue wildebeest

Black Wildebeest

Black wildebeest

The Black wildebeest is the black wildebeest or white-tailed gnu is one of the two closely related wildebeest species.  It was first described in 1780 by Eberhard August Wilhelm von Zimmermann. It came surprisingly close to extinction, having been hunted as a pest and for its meat and hide.

The current population is now thought to be around 18,000, though 7000 of this is in Namibia (outside their natural range) where they are farmed. Their conservation status is least concern

5. Subfamily Hippotraginae

Addax

The addax , also known as the white antelope and the screwhorn antelope, is an antelope found in the  Sahara Desert. The only member of the genus Addax, it was first described scientifically by Henri de Blainville in 1816. As suggested by its alternative name, the pale antelope has long, twisted horns – typically 55 to 80 cm  in females and 70 to 85 cm in males. Males stand from 105 to 115 cm at the shoulder, with females at 95 to 110 cm. The females are smaller than the males (sexually diamorphic). The colour of the coat depends on the season – in the winter, it is greyish-brown with white hindquarters and legs, and long, brown hair on the head, neck, and shoulders; in the summer, the coat turns almost completely white or sandy blonde.

The addax mainly eats grasses and leaves of any available shrubs, leguminous herbs and bushes and can survive with no more water than that in the plants they eat for long periods of time. Addax form herds of 5to 20 members, consisting of both males and females, but they are led by the eldest female. Due to its slow movements, the addax is an easy target for its predators: humans, lions, leopards, cheetahs and African wild dogs. Breeding season is at its peak during winter and early spring. The natural habitat of the addax are arid regions, semideserts and sandy and stony deserts.

The addax is a critically endangered species of antelope, as classified by the IUCN (though the USFWS lists them as endangered, as the population is thought to have gone from under 100 to around 500 in the last few years) . Although extremely rare in its native habitat due to unregulated hunting, it is quite common in captivity. The addax was once abundant in North Africa; however it is currently only native to Chad, Mauritania, and Niger. It is extirpated from Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Sudan, and Western Sahara, but has been reintroduced into Morocco and Tunisia. On the map, they green areas are where they still live, while the red represent places that they have been reintroduced

Addax

Sable Antelope

Known for its impressive back curving horns, the sable antelope is a large antelope which inhabits wooded savanna in East and Southern Africa, from the south of Kenya to South Africa, with a separated population in Angola.

There are 4 subspecies

  • The southern sable antelope (other names include the common sable antelope, black sable antelope, Matsetsi sable antelope or South Zambian sable antelope) was the first to be described in 1838 and so is considered the nominate subspecies. Often referred to as the black sable antelope because it tends to have the darkest coat, this subspecies occurs south of the Zambezi River, particularly in northern Botswana and in large numbers in the Matsetsi Valley of Zimbabwe, but it is also found in South Africa. Currently, only about 15% pure Matsetsi sable antelopes are thought to exist in South Africa. The Matsetsi sable antelope population in Zimbabwe is only 450 (down from 24,000 in 1994). The sable antelope population in South Africa is about 7,000 (commercial and in reserves). Therefore, the Matsetsi sable antelope population apparently is less than 1,500 and declining. However, most of the sable antelope in the reserves are pure Matsetsi sable antelope. Anglo-American recently started a program of breeding pure Matsetsi sable antelope commercially and keeping them pure.
  • The giant sable antelope (also known as the royal sable antelope) is so named because both sexes are larger and their horns are recognizably longer. It is found only in a few remaining localities in central Angola. It is classified as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List and is listed on Appendix I of CITES. There are thought to be less than 1000 left in the wild. Given a war raged for 27 years (ending in 2002), there is little tourism to the country. If this changes it is likely to give impetus for protecting what wildlife that remains.
  • The Zambian sable antelope (also known as the West Zambian sable antelope or West Tanzanian sable antelope) has the largest geographic range of the four subspecies, which extends north of the Zambezi River through Zambia, the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo and Malawi into southwestern Tanzania. It is classified as Vulnerable (I cannot find a population estimate.
  • The eastern sable antelope (also known as the Shimba sable antelope) is the smallest of the four subspecies. It occurs in the coastal hinterlands of southern Kenya, particularly in the Shimba Hills National Reserve, and ranges through the region east of Tanzania’s eastern escarpment and into northern Mozambique.

In English “great sable antelope”, “sable” or the Swahili name mbarapi are sometimes used. An archaic term used in accounts of hunting expeditions in South Africa is “potaquaine”; the origin and exact application are unclear. Local names include swartwitpens (Afrikaans), kgama or phalafala (Sotho), mBarapi or palahala (Swahili), kukurugu, kwalat or kwalata (Tswana), ngwarati (Shona), iliza (Xhosa), impalampala (Zulu) and umtshwayeli (Ndebele).

Roan Antelope

Roan Antelope

The roan antelope is a large savanna-dwelling antelope found in western, central, and southern Africa. Named for its roan colour (a reddish brown), it has lighter underbellies, white eyebrows and cheeks and black faces, lighter in females. It has short, erect manes, very light beards and prominent red nostrils. It is one of the largest antelope, measuring 190–240 cm  from head to the base of the tail, and a 37–48 cm  long tail. Males weigh 242–300 kg and females 223–280 kg . Its shoulder height is around 130–140 cm.

It was first described by French naturalist Étienne Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire in 1803. It is listed as least concern by IUCN, while CITES places them on appendix 3 (I have been unable to find conservation of the subspecies, but these will be added if/ when I do.

Six subspecies are recognised:

  • H. e. bakeri (Heuglin, 1863): Occurs in Sudan (East Africa). Vulnerable 
  • H. e. cottoni Dollman and Burlace, 1928: Occurs in Angola, Botswana, the southern Democratic Republic of the Congo, central and northern Malawi, and Zambia (Southern Africa).
  • H. e. equinus É. Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, 1803: Occurs in Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe (Southern Africa).
  • H. e. koba (Gray, 1872): Range extends from Senegal to Benin (West Africa).
  • H. e. langheldi Matschie, 1898: Occurs in Burundi, the northern Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda (East Africa).
  • H. e. scharicus (Schwarz, 1913): Occurs in Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Chad and eastern Nigeria (Central Africa).
Roan antelopes can be found in woodland, grassland, and savannah; mainly in the tropical and subtropical grasslands, savannas, and shrublands biome, which range in tree density from forest with a grassy understory (such as the central Zambezian Miombo woodlands) to grasslands dotted with few trees, where they eat mid-length grasses.
 
They live in small groups and form harem groups of 5 to 15 animals with one dominant male. Males commonly fight among themselves for dominance of their herd, brandishing their horns while both animals are on their knees.

Gemsbok

The gemsbok or South African oryx, is a large antelope in the genus Oryx. It is endemic to the dry and barren regions of Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and (parts of) Zimbabwe, mainly inhabiting the Kalahari and Namib Deserts, areas in which it is supremely adapted for survival. Previously, some sources classified the related East African oryx, or beisa oryx, as a subspecies.

The name gemsbok is from Afrikaans, which itself is from the Dutch word of the same spelling, meaning “male chamois”, composed of gems (“chamois”) + bok (“buck, male goat”).

It is on the Namibian coat of arms, as there are roughly 373,000 in the country. They are listed as least concern. Being a desert species, they are only found in South African reserves in the west, and are not found in the Kruger. The closely related East African Oryx lives (unsurprisingly) in east Africa.

Belsa Oryx - Also known as the East African Oryx

Belsa Oryx

The East African oryx  inhabits eastern Africa. The East African oryx has two subspecies;

  • the common beisa oryx (O. b. beisa)
  • the fringe-eared oryx (O. b. callotis).

In the past, both were considered subspecies of the gemsbok. The East African oryx is an endangered species, with 11,000-13,000 mature individuals in the wild.

Scimitar Oryx

The scimitar oryx, also called the scimitar-horned oryx (Oryx dammah), of North Africa used to be listed as extinct in the wild, but it is now declared as endangered. Unconfirmed surviving populations have been reported in central Niger and Chad, and a semi-wild population currently inhabiting a fenced nature reserve in Tunisia is being expanded for reintroduction to the wild in that country. Several thousand are held in captivity around the world.

Schimiter Oryx

6. Subfamily Aepycerotinae (1 species)

Impala

Impala

There are currently around 2 million Impala roaming across Africa.  About one quarter of these live in protected areas in Botswana, Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. Around 1000 of the Black faced Impala live in the green area in the west of Africa.

In some reserves such as the Kruger, they are the most common antelope.

7. Subfamily Antilopinae

Dama Gazelle

The Dama Gazelle is a small antelope, species with a handful of small populations acros central and western north Africa. It lives in the Sahara and the Sahel desert. 

In Niger, the Dama Gazelle has become a national symbol.

There are 3 subspecies, however the Mhorr gazell is extinct in the wild (though zoos have a number) , the dama gazelle is only kept in captivity one zoo and is very rare in the wild. 

The species is critically endangered with only 100-200 left in the wild. Given that this small population is spread over a number of areas. The number of wild semi wild and captive is around 2900, so it is just the need to save the species in the wild which is the current problem.

Schimiter Oryx

1. Tragelaphini – spiral-horned antelope

1. Tragelaphini - spiral-horned antelope

Bushbuck

Bushbuck

The Cape bushbuck , also  known as imbabala is a common, medium-sized and a widespread species of antelope in sub-Saharan Africa. It is found in a wide range of habitats, such as rain forestsmontane forests, forest-savanna mosaic, savanna, bushveld, and woodland. Its stands around 90 cm at the shoulder and weigh from 45 to 80 kg. They are generally solitary, territorial browsers.

Although rarely seen, as it spends most of its time deep in the thick bush, there are around 1 million in Africa

Select a shortcode

Common Eland

 The common eland (southern eland or eland antelope) is a large-sized savannah and plains antelope from East and Southern Africa. An adult male is around 1.6 m  tall at the shoulder (females are 20 cm  shorter) and can weigh up to 942 kg with a typical range of 500–600 kg. Only the giant eland is (on average bigger). It was described by Peter Simon Pallas in 1766. Population of 136,000, can form herds of 500

Common Eland

Giant Eland

Giant Eland

The giant eland, (also known as Lord Derby’s eland and greater eland) is an open-forest and savanna antelope.

 It was described in 1847 by John Edward Gray. The giant eland is the largest species of antelope, with a body length ranging from 220–290 cm (87–114 in). There are two subspeciesT. d. derbianus and T. d. gigas.

The giant eland is a herbivore, living in small mixed gender herds consisting of 15–25 members. Giant elands have large home ranges. They can run at up to 70 km/h.  They mostly inhabit broad-leafed savannas and woodlands and are listed as vulnerable and have a wild population of 12,000-14,000

Greater Kudu

The greater kudu  is a large woodland antelope, you can see its distribution on the map. Despite occupying such widespread territory, they are sparsely populated in most areas due to declining habitat, deforestation, and poaching. 

The spiral horns are impressive, and grow at one curl every 3 years – they are fully grown at 7 and a half years with 2 and a half turns. Three subspecies have been agreed (one described has been rejected) :

 

  • T. s. strepsiceros – southern parts of the range from southern Kenya to Namibia, Botswana, and South Africa
  • T. s. chora – northeastern Africa from northern Kenya through Ethiopia to eastern Sudan, Somalia, and Eritrea
  • T. s. cottoni – Chad and western Sudan
They are listed as near threatened with 118,000 in the wild
Greater Kudu

Lesser Kudu

Lesser Kudu

The lesser kudu  is a medium-sized bushland antelope found in East Africa.  It was first scientifically described by English zoologist Edward Blyth (1869).It stands around 90 cm at the shoulder and weigh from 45 to 80 kg. They are generally solitary, territorial browsers.

While currently rated not threatened, its population is decreasing. It currently stands at 100,000, but it is loosing territory to humans

Common Bongo (and mountain Bongo)

The bongo  is a large, mostly nocturnal, forest-dwelling antelope, native to sub-Saharan Africa. Bongos are characterised by a striking reddish-brown coat, black and white markings, white-yellow stripes, and long slightly spiralled horns. It is the only member of its family in which both sexes have horns. Bongos have a complex social interaction and are found in African dense forest mosaics. They are the third-largest antelope in the world.

The Common (western or lowland bongo), faces an ongoing population decline, and the IUCN considers it to be Near Threatened.

The mountain bongo (or eastern) of Kenya, has a coat even more vibrant than the common version. The mountain bongo is only found in the wild in a few mountain regions of central Kenya. This bongo is classified by the IUCN  as Critically Endangered (where it breeds readily). (this is not on the map above). Only 100 live wild, split between 4 areas of Kenya

Common Bongo

Nyala

Nyala

The Nyala is a spiral horned species

 found in Southern Africa. The nyala is mainly active in the early morning and the late afternoon. It generally browses during the day if temperatures are 20–30 °C  and during the night in the rainy season. The nyala feeds upon foliage, fruits and grasses, and requires sufficient fresh water. It is a very shy animal, and prefers water holes to the river bank. Not territorial, they are very cautious creatures. They live in single-sex or mixed family groups of up to 10 individuals, but old males live alone. They inhabit thickets within dense and dry savanna woodlands. The main predators of the nyala are lion, leopard and African wild dog, while baboons and raptorial birds prey on juveniles. Males and females are sexually mature at 18 and 11–12 months of age respectively, though they are socially immature until five years old. They have one calf after 7 months of gestation. Its population is stable, with the greatest threat coming from habitat loss as humans expand. There are thought to be 36500 and the population is stable.

Mountain Nyala

 The mountain Nyala (also known as the Balbok) is a large antelope found in high altitude woodlands in just a small part of central Ethiopia. The coat is grey to brown, marked with two to five poorly defined white strips extending from the back to the underside, and a row of six to ten white spots. White markings are present on the face, throat and legs as well. Males have a short dark erect crest, about 10 cm (3.9 in) high, running along the middle of the back. Only males possess horns.

The mountain nyala are shy and elusive towards human beings. They form small temporary herds. Males are not territorial. Primarily a browser. They will grazing occasionally. Males and females are sexually mature at 2 years old.. Gestation lasts for eight to nine months, after which a single calf is born. The lifespan of a mountain nyala is around 15 to 20 years.

Found in mountain woodland -between 3000m and 4000m. Human settlement and large livestock population have forced the animal to occupy heath forests at an altitude of above 3,400 m (11,200 ft). Mountain nyala are endemic to the Ethiopian highlands east of the Rift Valley. As much as half of the population live within 200 square km (77 sq mi) area of Gaysay, in the northern part of the Bale Mountains National Park. The mountain nyala has been classified under the Endangered category of the  (IUCN). Their influence on Ethiopian culture is notable, with the mountain nyala being featured on the obverse of Ethiopian ten cents coins.

Mountain Nyala

Situnga Antelope

Situnga

The sitatunga  (or marshbuck)is a swamp-dwelling medium-sized antelope found throughout central Africa (see the map to the right. The sitatunga is mostly confined to swampy and marshy habitats. Here they occur in tall and dense vegetation as well as seasonal swamps, marshy clearings in forests, riparian thickets and mangrove swamps.

The scientific name of the sitatunga is Tragelaphus spekii. The species was first described by the English explorer John Hanning Speke in 1863.

It is listed as least concern with 170,000-200,000, and are found in 25 countries. However 40% live outside reserves, so the situation could get worse fast.

Note: these animals have been dealt with in less detail than others. Should you be interested in finding out if I have written on these animals or what exactly I said, you can find a list of articles about each below its information.

2. Subfamily Reduncinae: rhebok reedbuck and Waterbuck

2. Reduncinae - Rhebok, Reedbuck, Waterbuck

Boher Reedbuck

Boher Reedbuck

The bohor reedbuck  is an antelope native to central Africa.

The head-and-body length of this medium-sized antelope is typically between 100–135 cm. Females are smaller. This sturdily built antelope has a yellow to grayish brown coat. Only the males possess horns which measure about 25–35 cm long. There are 5 subspecies:

  • R. r. bohor Rüppell, 1842: Also known as the Abyssinian bohor reedbuck. It occurs in southwestern, western and central Ethiopia, and Blue Nile (Sudan).
  • R. r. cottoni (W. Rothschild, 1902): It occurs in the Sudds (Southern Sudan), northeastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, and probably in northern Uganda.
  • R. r. nigeriensis (Blaine, 1913): This subspecies occurs in Nigeria, northern Cameroon, southern Chad and Central African Republic.
  • R. r. redunca (Pallas, 1767): Its range extends from Senegal east to Togo. It inhabits the northern savannas of Africa. 
  • R. r. wardi (Thomas, 1900): Found in Uganda, eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo and eastern Africa. 
The total population of this species is 100,000, and while it is decreasing, it is not currently low enough to justify a near threatened rating, though this might change in the near future. At the current time, I cannot see any of the subspecies being in a worse position but can change this if I find out more.

Mountain Reedbuck

 The mountain reedbuck has 3 subspecies. The western mountain reedbuck only has 450 individuals still living wild, (shown on the map in red) also known as the Adamwa mountain reedbuck which is restricted to the highlands of Cameroon. The Eastern mountain reedbuck (or Chanlers) has 2900 wild individuals, is found in parts of Kenya and Ethiopia. The Southern moutnain reedbuck, blue, (33,000) is found in the Drakensburg mountains of South Africa.

Mountain Reedbuck

Southern Reedbuck

Southern Reedbuck

The Southern, or common Reedbuck is found in Southern Africa. It is a midsized  antelope, standing 134-167cm tall

 It was described in 1785 by Pieter Boddaert. Southern reedbucks live in pairs or alone, though occasionally they will form herds of up to 20. They prefer to lie in grass or reed beds in the heat of the day and feed during sunrise and sunset, or sometimes even at night. Old reedbucks are permanently territorial, with territories around 35-60 hectares, and generally live with a single female, preventing contact with rival males. Females and young males perform an ‘appeasement dance’ for older males.  Within this territory, it is active all the time in summer, but it is nocturnal in the wet season. It regularly uses paths to reach good sites to rest, graze, and drink water. They are hunted by all the top predators in the area, including Lion, Leopard, Cheetah hyena and wild dog, as well as animals like snakes.

They are easily hunted, and combined with loss of territory to human expansion, the population is down. About 60% occur in protected reserves, but in some countries like Gabon and the DRC are though to almost be locally extinct.

Kob

The puku  is a mid-sized antelope found in wet grasslands in Southern Democratic Republic of Congo, Namibia, Tanzania, Zambia and more concentrated in the Okavango Delta in Botswana.

Nearly one-third of all puku are found in protected areas, zoos, and national parks due to their diminishing habitat (though this still leaves 2/3 of Puku living outside all protected areas.

Kob (queen Elizabeth national park)

Red Lechwe

Red Lechwe

Red Lechewe is a species of antelope found in the south of eastern African. The red lechwe is native to Botswana, Zambia, southeastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, northeastern Namibia, and eastern Angola, especially in the Okavango Delta, Kafue Flats, and Bangweulu Wetlands. They are found in shallow water, and have a substance on their legs which allows them to run pretty fast. Total population is around 160,000

Four subspecies of the lechwe have been recognized

  • Common red lechwe (Gray, 1850) – Widely distributed in the wetlands of Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia and Zambia. (80,000)
  • Kafue Flats lechwe  (Haltenorth, 1963) – It is confined within the Kafue Flats (seasonally inundated flood-plain on the Kafue River, Zambia). (28,000)
  • Roberts’ lechwe  (Rothschild, 1907) – Formerly found in northeastern Zambia, now extinct. Also called the Kawambwa lechwe.
  • Black lechwe (Kobus leche smithemani(Lydekker, 1900) – Found in the Bangweulu region of Zambia. (50,000)

In addition, the Upemba lechwe (1000)  and the extinct Cape lechwe are also considered subspecies by some authorities. Although related and sharing the name “lechwe”, the Nile lechwe (below) is consistently recognized as a separate species.

Nile Lechwe

The Nile lechwe or Mrs Gray’s lechwe  is an endangered species of antelope found in swamps and grasslands in South Sudan and Ethiopia.

Nile lechwe can visually signal and vocalize to communicate with each other. They rear high in the air in front of their opponents and turn their heads to the side while displaying. Females are quite loud, making a toad-like croaking when moving. Known predators are humans, lions, crocodiles, cheetahs, wild dogs, hyenas and leopards. They flee to water if disturbed, but females defend their offspring from smaller predators by direct attack, mainly kicking. Nile lechwe are crepuscular, active in the early morning and late afternoon. They gather in herds of up to 50 females and one male or in smaller all-male herds. They divide themselves into three social groups: females and their new offspring, bachelor males, and mature males with territories. A males with territory sometimes allows a bachelor male into his territory to guard the region and not to copulate. They are sexually mature at 2.

Nile lechwe feed on succulent grasses and water plants. They have the special capability to wade in shallow waters and swim in deeper waters, and may feed on young leaves from trees and bushes, rearing up to reach this green vegetation. Nile lechwe are also found in marshy areas, where they eat aquatic plants.  Around 32,000 and are classed as endangered

Nile Lechwe

Puku

Puku

The puku  is a medium-sized antelope found in wet grasslands in southern Democratic Republic of Congo, Namibia, Tanzania, Zambia and more concentrated in the Okavango Delta in Botswana. Nearly one-third of all puku are found in protected areas, zoos, and national parks due to their diminishing habitat (the issue here, is that these 2/3 are clearly at danger of disappearing if humans change their behaviour. They are currenly listed as not threatened

Two subspecies exist:

  • Senga Puku
  • Southern Puku
Both appear to be not threatened.
They are found in Hluhluwe Umfolozi Game Reserve, Kruger National Park, Moremi Game Reserve, Ngorongoro Crater Conservation Area and the Serengeti National Park

Waterbuck

The waterbuck  is a large antelope found widely in sub-Saharan Africa.It was first described by Irish naturalist William Ogilby in 1833.

Its 13 subspecies are grouped under two varieties: the common or ellipsiprymnus waterbuck and the defassa waterbuck. The head-and-body length is typically between 177 and 235cm  and the typical height is between 120 and 136cm. In this antelope, males are taller and heavier than females. Males reach roughly 127 cm at the shoulder, while females reach 119cm. Males typically weigh 198–262 kg and females 161–214 kg. Their coat colour varies from brown to grey. The long, spiral horns, present only on males, curve backward, then forward, and are 55–99 cm long. Waterbucks are rather sedentary in nature. As gregarious animals, they may form herds consisting of six to 30 individuals. These groups are either nursery herds with females and their offspring or bachelor herds. Males start showing territorial behaviour from the age of 5 years, but are most dominant from the six to nine. The waterbuck cannot tolerate dehydration in hot weather, and thus inhabits areas close to sources of water. Predominantly a grazer, the waterbuck is mostly found on grassland. In equatorial regions, breeding takes place throughout the year, but births are at their peak in the rainy season. The gestational period lasts 7–8 months, followed by the birth of a single calf.

Waterbucks inhabit scrub and savanna areas along rivers, lakes, and valleys. Due to their requirement for grasslands and water, waterbucks have a sparse ecotone distribution. The IUCN lists the waterbuck as being of least concern. More specifically, the common waterbuck is listed as of least concern. while the defassa waterbuck is near threatened. The population trend for both is downwards, especially that of the defassa, with large populations being eliminated from certain habitats because of poaching and human disturbance.

The common waterbuck is listed as least concern, while the Defassa is listed as near threatened. Only 60% of this subspecies population is in protected areas, so it could get worse, if they are lost.

Waterbuck

Beaked whales

Beaked whales

Beaked whales are a fascinating wide-ranging family. There are 24 species, but they spend much of their time in the ocean depths, and are capable of holding their breath for up to 3 hours.

More amazingly, it appears that some species might only spend several minutes at the surface before returning to the depths. Now, while this 3 hours record dive is repeatable is a big question. Assuming the beaked whale was capable of repeating this 8 times in a 24 hour period, we would be talking about a species which spends only 1% of its time at the surface. Given their shape also allows them to keep an incredibly low profile, even at the surface – and we do not know how many of them there are, it makes it clear how hard it would be to spot one.

If you could sit in one place, in the ocean for 24 hours, and have a whale repeatedly return to the surface for 2 minutes, half a mile away, it would not be hard to miss the animal.

Please note, where I have found a video, it is in line with the correct image. Before you reach all these species, there is an amalgamated news section for all beaked whales.

We are eager to support tourism of these species, but given they are seen so rarely, there is not a great deal of tourism connected to them. However, we will happily list anyone who does work in tourism and sees one of these even once (we will also list you on pages for cetaceans that you see more regularly.

Arnoux beaked whale Genus Beradius

Also known as the southern 4 toothed whale, southern beaked whale, New Zealand beaked whale, southern giant bottlenose whale and southern porpoise whale is one of the species of Berardius. This species and the one below, is so similar that only genetic evidence and the huge distance between them convinced people they were separate species. 

Little is known about them, because they are encountered so rarely

Play Video

Baird Beaked whale Genus Beradius

Also known as the northern giant bottlenose whale, North Pacific bottlenose whale, giant four-toothed whale, northern four-toothed whale and the North Pacific four-toothed whale, is a species of whale from the genus Beradius. It is the second largest toothed whale after the Sperm Whale

Play Video

Sato Beaked whale Genus Beradius

This whale was only recognized as a separate species on the basis of mtDNA. Its beak is usually only around 4% of body length. The name comes from the researcher who defined it (from pictures on land.

They generally have many scars, which are easy to see, as their skin is dark and the scars light to white.

Its classed as near threatened, though its hard to know.

Subfamily Hyperodontinae, Genus Hyperoodon – bottlenose whales, northern bottlenose whale The northern bottlenose whale was hunted heavily by Norway and Britain in the 19th and 20th centuries. It is capable of diving incredibly deep, with recorded dives reaching 2339m, and has been timed staying under water for 130 minutes. The northern bottlenose whale is endemic to the North Atlantic Ocean< and populations are found in the deep (500 m) cold subarctic waters of the Davis Strait, Labrador Sea, Greenland Sea, Barents Sea, , but can range as far south as Newfoundland and Nova Scotia. As of 2017, the population in the North East Atlantic is estimated to be between 10,000 and 45,000.

Subfamily Hyperodontinae, Genus Hyperoodon – bottlenose whales, Southern bottlenose whale

The southern bottlenose whale is a species of whale, in the Ziphiid family, one of two members of the genus Hyperoodon. Seldom observed, the southern bottlenose whale is resident in Antarctic waters. The species was first described by English zoologist William Henry Flower in 1882, based on a water-worn skull from Lewis Island, in the Dampier Archipelago, Western Australia. They live in deep ocean waters over 1000 meters.

Gnerally their dives last 15-40 minutes, but it is unclear if they would be capable of diving for as long as the northern species. There are no population estimates, though they make up 90% of ziphiid sightings in Antarctic waters.

Subfamily Hyperodontinae, Genus Indopacetus, Tropical bottlenose whale

The tropical bottlenose whale, also known as the Indo-Pacific beaked whale or Longman’s beaked whale, was considered to be the world’s rarest cetacean until recently, but the spade-toothed whale now holds that position. As of 2010, the species is now known from nearly a dozen strandings and over 65 sightings. This is the only species in its genus.

Given how rarely they are sighted, they have not been hunted, though they have been killed accidently.

Andrews' beaked whale

Subfamily Hyperodontinae, Genus Mesoplodon, mesoplodont whales, Andrews Beaked whale

Subfamily Hyperodontinae, Genus Mesoplodon, mesoplodont whales Blainvilles beaked whale

Blainville's beaked whale

Subfamily Hyperodontinae, Genus Mesoplodon, mesoplodont whales Deraniyagala beaked whale

The Deraniyagala beaked whale is so rare, I have been unable to find a video to place here

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Subfamily Hyperodontinae, Genus Mesoplodon, mesoplodont whales, Gervaiss beaked whale

Gervais's beaked whale
Ginkgo-toothed beaked whale

Subfamily Hyperodontinae, Genus Mesoplodon, mesoplodont whales,

Ginkgo-toothed beaked whlae

Subfamily Hyperodontinae, Genus Mesoplodon, mesoplodont whales, grey beaked whale

grey beaked whale
Hector's beaked whale

Subfamily Hyperodontinae, Genus Mesoplodon, mesoplodont whales, Hectors beaked whale

Subfamily Hyperodontinae, Genus Mesoplodon, mesoplodont whales, Hubbs Beaked whale

Hubbs' beaked whale
Perrin's beaked whale

Subfamily Hyperodontinae, Genus Mesoplodon, mesoplodont whales, Perrins beaked whale

Subfamily Hyperodontinae, Genus Mesoplodon, mesoplodont whales, Pygmy beaked whale

Pygmy beaked whale
Ramari's beaked whale

Subfamily Hyperodontinae, Genus Mesoplodon, mesoplodont whales

Subfamily Hyperodontinae

Sowerby's beaked whale
Spade-toothed whale

Subfamily Hyperodontinae

Subfamily Hyperodontinae

Stejnegers beaked whale
Strap-toothed whale

Subfamily Hyperodontinae

Subfamily Hyperodontinae

True's beaked whale
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