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

Big cat family tree

The Cat (felidae) family tree

The Cats form an incredibly successful family. It is true that they are missing from the polar regions, and Australasia, but everywhere that they reached they have been successful, and in many ecosystems they are the undisputed kings

Panthera Family

 This family split from hte Felid ancestor 10.8 million years ago. There have been some debate as to whether the two species of clouded leopards should be included in Panthera. On the circular mammal tree (which we are using – look in the species watch tab, or click here)

They are generally included in a subgenus Panthera_Neofilis

 

Bay cat Familiy

Bay cat ancestor split 9.4 milion years ago

Caracal Family

Caracal Ancestor split 8.5 million years ago

Ocelot Family

Ocelot Ancestor 2.9 million years ago

Lynx Family

Lynx Ancestor 3.2 million years ago

Puma Family

Puma ancestor 4.9 million years ago

Leopard cat Family

Leopard cat Ancestor 5.9 million year ago

Domestic cat Family

Domestic cat Ancestor

Cougar (Puma, mountain-lion, Catamount even Panther)

A mountain-lion photographed in Glacier national park, by the national parks service

Cougar, Puma or mountain-lion

This cat is a large cat that is native to much of North and South America, second only to the Jaguar.

For most classifications, the cougar misses out on being a big cat, as it does not have the vocal structure to roar, as the others do.

It is largely solitary, and is generally a nocturnal or crepuscular cat (that is active at night or in the early morning and late evening). They have been persecuted since the colonization of north America by the Europeans, which has lead to patchy coverage. The Eastern Cougar is extinct, except for a sub-population called the Florida Panther which is isolated from any other Cougars. It is in better state in the west of the USA. In Southern and central America, it is still found in every country. In fact, it holds a classification of being the most widespread mammal to be found in the Western hemisphere.

It is a close relative of the Cheetah, which is believed to have initially evolved in the USA before migrating into Asia and Africa. The only animal which shares the same clade is the jaguarundi is the cougar, though the larger family called a Lineage and does include the cheetah

Jaguarundi

Rare in much of their range, with persecution and habitat loss, we yet have time to save this creature

The Jaguarundi is a mid-sized cat, similar in size to the Ocelot – about twice the size of a domestic cat. It is found from central Argentina to Northern Mexico at the top of its range. In central and Southern America it is found east of the Andes. Secretive, and very alert, it actually tends to hunt during the day and the evenings. They live in large home ranges and low densities. In the wild they tend to be solitary or living in pairs.

Although a good climber, it generally prefers to hunt on the ground. It lives in an array of habitats from tropical rainforests, deciduous forests to deserts and thorn scrubs.

It is pretty common in Brazil, Peru and Venezuela, though it is thought to be extinct in the USA – it is obviously found in the countries in between, however due to range loss from fragmentation of habitat, as well as direct persecution as a result of taking of poultry, there are many regions where it is threatened as populations are declining fast.

The Jaguarundi shares a clade with the mountain lion (cougar), and is in the same lineage as the Cheetah

aaa Malamala reserve, Greater Limpopo transfrontier park – between Sabi sands and the Kruger

Malamala reserve, Limpopo Transfrontier park

Established back in 1927, initially as a hunting reserve, it has been purely with a camera since 1964. Relatively small, only covering 62 square miles, it is sandwiched between the Kruger and the Sabi sands game reserve. As such, the game is incredibly dense.

There most luxury suites in each camp is 10, across all three camps so  if every single one is inhabited, a large so called traffic jam would not stop you seeing the wildlife. Unlike in the Kruger itself, you are not restricted to roads, which means often very close encounters., it also make 62 square miles an enormous area to explore with your guide.

aaa Skeleton coast, Namibia

Skeleton coast, Namibia

Lioness with cape fur seal it hunted, on the beach

The skeleton coast in Namibia, is one of the few people where the desert runs right down to the sea. This desert area in Namibia is quite strange, as many species that do not usually live in desert region, but here they do.

Here freshwater springs permeate the barren sands to create life-sustaining oases for small pockets of wildlife in the middle of the desert. Hartmann’s mountain zebra, gemsbok, desert-adapted elephant, brown hyena, giraffe and – occasionally – cheetah may all be found in this wild and rugged landscape. This part of the coast hosts a several large cape fur seals  colonies, which leads to fascinating moments like the above with lions hunting on the beach.

Below is a video, of a hyena deep in the desert, something not likely to be seen elsewhere.

This huge area of wilderness is actually made up of 4 reserves: Skeleton Coast national park, Dorob National Park (which contains Cape cross seal reserve -this is the largest of the 24 cape fur seals breeding colonies, with 80,000 to 100,000  on site at its height. Fur seals are more closely related to sea lions than to seals), Namib-Naukluft national park and Tsau Khaeb national park. Any links will appear below as this site grows.

aaa Lake Turkana and its national parks

Lake Turkana and its national parks

Lake Turkana is a lake with 3 rivers entering it (no rivers leave, it evaporates) . It lies in the eastern part of the great rift valley. The three parks are  Sibiloi National Park, the South Island and the Central Island National Parks, covering a total area of 161,485 hectares located within the Lake Turkana basin whose total surface area is 7 million ha. The lake is the most saline in africa which means little can survive in its waters.

This area is not the largest protected zone, as it only covers around 700 square miles. The island parks are the breeding habitats of the Nile crocodile, the hippopotamus amphibious and several snake species. The lake is an important flyway passage and stopover for palaeartic migrant birds. Over the dry grasslands ranges a frail population of grazing mammals and predators. The grazers are chiefly Grevy’s zebra, Burchell’s zebra, the beisa oryx, Grant’s gazelle, the topi and the reticulated giraffe. They are hunted by the lion and the cheetah. Elephants and the black rhinoceroses are no longer seen. Closer to the dust is the cushioned gerbil (Gerbillus pulvinatus)

Lion

Photo credit Ross Couper

Lion

Altaileopard https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Altaileopard – Own work using: File:Lion_distribution.png Scientific source: Bertola, L. D., Jongbloed, H., Van Der Gaag, K. J., De Knijff, P., Yamaguchi, N., Hooghiemstra, H., … & Tende, T. (2016). Phylogeographic patterns in Africa and high resolution delineation of genetic clades in the lion (Panthera leo). Scientific Reports, 6, 30807.

Lions- often referred to as ‘The king of the jungle’ (odd as they are rarely found in the jungle) are usually one of the animals visitors want to see if not the main one.

They are very impressive and it is understandable why they are popular. No other predator dares lie out dozing in the open plains all day.

However over the last few decades, lion declines have been horrific, with declines of more than 2/3 since the 1960s.

Lion conservation is important, because to have a thriving lion population, you need a very large protected area, and an intact ecosystem- so all the other animals benefit. I have used a large variety of sources to compile this, but one study of great interest is “Lion conservation in West and Central Africa” by Hans Bauer, published in 2003. In 1996 the estimate for the lion population in Africa was thought to be between 30,000 and 100,000, however the IUCN African Lion Working Group suggested a more realistic number was 18,000-27,000. They also suggested, that of 38 reserves and parks across these regions that used to have lions, they are definitely lost from 23.

The Asiatic lion is different; Its only current home in Asia, is the Gir forests of western India. However, something that many people do not know is that the Asiatic lion population of Gir is a tiny relict of possibly the largest spread lion subspecies. The Asiatic lion still exists in Africa – the western and northern lion population are very closely related to the Asiatic lion and are thought to have last naturally interbred a few centuries ago. Importantly, they are still so genetically similar that they are not different sub species. This is important, as it means that only just over half of the Asiatic lions live in and around Gir, the rest live in Africa. I hope to add many more destinations over time. If you run safari lodge or camp or tours please do get in touch through the above link “list your wild place”. We are keen to list as many of the places to see wild lions as possible. 

It should be noted, that in historic times the Asiatic lion population spread as far as Spain, though the last ones were likely lost around the time of Jesus. Asiatic lions survived in the Caucuses for far longer, surviving until around the end of the first millennium (1000AD). Ecologically, the conditions of Southern and Eastern Europe have not changed much in the last millennium. However, until a significant change in human habitation, there is no space for lions to return to this area.

Current estimates suggest that at most there are 20,000 lions in Africa (Some suggest 20,000-25,000, though LionAid did a thorough assessment of the lions on the continent in 2020 and came up with just 9200). If this lower number is correct, then there is no longer more than 10,000 wild lions in the world. Having said that, below is the 5 largest populations, which are relatively well known, and these add up to above that number. Time will tell.

As keystone species, and apex predators, lions are incredibly important, as such it is a species that is followed closely on this website.  On each tab, you will find a list of articles about that species. Find below a list of articles on lions, below that is links to places we list where you can see lion. Please note, tab 2 and 3 refer to two separate populations of the Asiatic subspecies if only recently confirmed through genetic testing.

 

As you can see from the map above, the name African lion is not particularly accurate, given that half of Africa was inhabited by the Asian Lion. Still, even taking into account this number of African lions which belong to the Asiatic lion subspecies, still the population of African lion subspecies account for the majority of lions left in the world. It should be noted, that while Tanzania is still claiming a lion population of 14,000-15,000 Lionaid survey in 2020 claimed around 9600 in the world, so someone is definitely wrong. The image at the top of the page is an African Lion.

Over time, I hope that the destinations that we list on this site will grow fast, but for now we list the large lion ecosystems- hopefully with a few more coming soon

1. Kruger national park, and the greater Limpopo 2500                          

2. Serengeti and surrounding reserves 3000 

3. Kalahari Zambezi 1500 (though with the size of this

 reserve, there is space for much growth)

4. Selous (Nyerere national pakr 4000-5000 though as most of this vast reserve is set aside for hunting, much if it is unavailable to photographic safari (latest survey suggests 4300)

5. Ruaha national park (Tanzania) 4000

This accounts for around anything from 40% up to 64% (it is likely to be at the top end of this estimate as this includes the biggest lion populations of Africa) on the lions of african depending on which estimate you trust. Indeed, given Lionaids estinate, it accounts for as much as 167%.  We hope to add other populations in the coming years.

While it is undeniable that the lion populations in the East and South of the continent have reduced, there would have to have been a significant population in west and north of the continent as well. While, clearly, much of this space has been lost to human expansion, there is still much space for a great increase in this population, whether it ever gets a chance to grow is something we will have to wait and see.

Known as Panthera Leo Leo, the Asiatic Lion is more complicated than once thought. Historically found throughout North, West and Central Africa, Large parts of Asia as well as throughout Southern Europe. Different parts of this huge area have been lost at different times. Oddly despite this, it appeared to be officially forgotten for some time, so that only recently it was demonstrated genetically that the West African lion and the Central African lion are the subspecies as the Asiatic lion, and as such there ar

e actually more Asiatic lions in Africa. As such, the Asiatic lion is split into 3 clades. Which will be handled separately.

So here, the west African Lion clade:

1. W-Arly-Pendjari Transfrontier park was estimated to hold 250-500 members (it should be noted that it is likely close the botto at the current time)

2. Senegal’s Niokolo-Koba national park formerly a stronghold, the number of lions as low as 30 at the moment (down from as high as as 120 in 1996)

3. Waza national park, Cameroon is was thought to host 14-21 lions in 2010, I  dont know what has happened since

4. Kainji Lake National Park, Nigeria is thought to host around 30, while Yankara may only have 5 left.       

5. Bénoué ecosystem: (Faro, Bénoué and Bouba-Ndjidda national parks as well as 32 hunting areas, covering 30,000 square km) contains 250 lions 

Are these over-estimates? A significant number of sources claim just 250 in the world, though others suggest around 400. Having said that, should we assume the minimum population for the WAP complex and Benoue estimate being accurate (studies are recent and thorough) this gets us to to over 400 already. 

 

What is unfortunate though is the populations in the other 3 reserves. 

Having said that, back around 1900 there was only an estimated 20 lions left in India, so a similar recovery could give each of these reserves a 400 population in 50 or so years. I would estimate given the reliability of these numbers that at the time of the study in 2020 the total population numbered around 800. though even half of this would be enough for a recovery over a relatively short term.

The western and the central lion population was (relatively recently) far larger. 1900 it is thought that there may have been as many as 200,000. Even as recently as 1970 there were thought to have been 90,000.

Unfortunately, at the current time, I have no links in these place – but would love to, please get in touch if you work in one of these reserves, we would love to help people find you.

 

Known as Panthera Leo Leo, the Asiatic Lion is more complicated than once thought. Historically found throughout North, West and Central Africa, Large parts of Asia as well as throughout Southern Europe. Different parts of this huge area have been lost at different times. Oddly despite this, it appeared to be officially forgotten for some time, so that only recently it was demonstrated genetically that the West African lion and the Central African lion are the subspecies as the Asiatic lion, and as such there are actually more Asiatic lions in Africa. As such, the Asiatic lion is split into 3 clades. Which will be handled separately.

So the central African lion is thought to have a population of around 2200 (as of 2015-2016): I have not been able to calculate a proper number for this, I hope to have more information in the future.

 

Asiatic lion from the Gir fores

Known as Panthera Leo Leo, the Asiatic Lion is more complicated than once thought. Historically found throughout North, West and Central Africa, Large parts of Asia as well as throughout Southern Europe. Different parts of this huge area have been lost at different times. Oddly despite this, it appeared to be officially forgotten for some time, so that only recently it was demonstrated genetically that the West African lion and the Central African lion are the subspecies as the Asiatic lion, and as such there are actually more Asiatic lions in Africa. As such, the Asiatic lion is split into 3 clades. Which will be handled separately.

So the North African and Asiatic clade: The north African lion, otherwise known as the Barbary lion, was lost some time ago (the last one was shot in 1942). However, there has been much discussion about reintroducing them to Morocco, for some time. It could well be done in the near future. 

The rest of this clade (remembering that the West and Central African lions are the same subspecies as this) are found in the Gir forests of India. This population is thought to be as high as 600, though deaths have been particularly high for a significant period of time. This population only currently has one protected home, from which the lions are overflowing- the Gir forest. The forest is home to as many as 600 lions, though only covering 1400 square km (545 miles) the best reserves in Africa have roughly 1 lion per every 5 square miles. Many of these lions live outside, with as many as 200 having made their home by the sea, a great distance form the park.

 

Scientists have long argued that some of the lions should be moved to another reserve as having all of them in one place leaves the entire clade vulnerable to natural disasters or indeed an epidemic. Indeed, it has gone all the way to the high court in India, but the Chief minister of Gujarat has simply refused to enforce the order (he does not want to loose the status of housing the only wild Asiatic lion (at least the Asiatic clade). There was much effort to give the Indian lions a second home, but the government saw them as their property and refused to allow any to be moved. The proposed home was set up for them – the Kuno reserve, with a number of villages moved to accommodate them. The Gujarat government has suggested all sorts of reasons to refuse, including that the reserve is unacceptable – despite being almost identical to Gir.

Kuno is now the home of the cheetah reintroduction (not that this should rule it out, as they lived alongside each other in the past, and from where they have been moved). Never-the-less, Gujurat has refused to budge even having lost the case in the supreme court.

 

It seems absurd that something this important can be held up because of politics but there we are. There are plans to move 40 lions to Barda wildlife sanctuary, which would at least give a second home. However, given the Asiatic Lions historical range covering such a vast area, the idea that one state in India could block translocations to anywhere else is quite scary. 

Never-the less, it is still a fascinating place to visit.

 

Limpopo Transfrontier park including Kruger sabi sands and other conservation areas
Greater Serengeti

Last of the Iranian Asiatic cheetah cubs in captivity has died

3 Asiatic cheetah cubs were born in captivity recently. This was exciting, because this species is on the brink of extinction – there is only thought to be about 12 remaining in the wild, down from about 100 in 2010, a survey in 2017 stated fewer than 50 mature individuals.

Is this the last gasp for this species? Will the sight of a young cub like this never occur again?

Continue reading “Last of the Iranian Asiatic cheetah cubs in captivity has died”

African Savannah

African Savannah animals

The aim here is not to give you the number of every species that exists in each reserve. Rather, the aim is to give you a rough idea of the health and size of each reserve. In places where there are private reserves on the edge of a larger reserve, complete ecosystem numbers will be given. Please note that they will not be precise, as even straight after a thorough count numbers are only estimates – furthermore, some reserves do not publicize their numbers.

The grid of animals that I have included above are as follows (below):

African wild dog Black rhino White rhino(Really wide rhino) Elephant Buffalo Giraffe Zebra Cheetah Hippopotamus Lion Hyena Leopard

This is going to be the standard animals for Savannah ecosystems within Africa, however each different Biome will have different species so there will be a variety of these pages. I will give you brief information on each. In the long-run we hope to have animal pages for each and these will be linked from the Bold animal names. Those not bold not not yet have a link page. At the bottom of each animals page is a list of places which you can book to see the animal in question; each currently have at least a few choices, but I hope to be able to direct to many more as time moves forwards.

African wild dog (or sometimes known as Cape hunting dog or painted dog). This animal is an incredible sighting if you get lucky. Now, they live at low densities, so are generally found in the largest reserves. If a reserve still has African wild dog, it is clear that the reserve is in pretty good health (usually). Furthermore, as they are very susceptible to various diseases that domestic dogs can carry (such as canine distemper) – this wiped out the population in the Serengeti in 1995. Thankfully, wild dogs have returned to the Serengeti, though currently only 100 or so are in the ecosystem – meaning it is unlikely that you will see them here. Any sighting is a wonderful thing. Member of ecotourism big 7

Black and White Rhino Two different species, Black rhino had a far larger range, unfortunately they are highly endangered across most of their range. White rhino, once found in central Africa (there are now only 2 of these animals left, held at Ol Pejeta conservancy in Kenya) are now only found in Southern Africa – South Africa, Namibia and Zimbabwe. The Kruger, once hosted as much as 10,000 or more white rhino, but now only have about 3000. Note: white rhino appears to be a mistranslation from the Africaans Weit, meaning wide, these rhino are not white. Pictures are Black then white rhino. Member of big 5 and ecotourism big 7

Elephant One of the species that so many people visit Africa for, the Savannah African elephant is doing okay, though the populations is far below historical levels. Places like the Selous (now much of this reserve is Nyerere National park) lost perhaps 80% of there historical elephant population. Encouragingly, if the poaching stops the population often rapidly recovers. The African forest elephant has seen horrific poaching over the last few decades, and without a rapid change this species might be heading for extinction (the African forest elephant is closer related to the Mammoth than the African Savannah elephant. Member of the big 5 and ecotourism big7.

Buffalo: A member of the big 5, the buffalo is essentially a wild cattle species. They are a member of the big 5 and ecotourism big 7. The big 5 is so named because these were the most dangerous animals to hunt on foot. Buffalo are often the species which you are likely to have encounters with if you go walking on foot.

Lion Often referred to as the King of the Jungle (despite not being found in jungles), is generally considered the apex predator. Certainly a wonderful thing to see, never-the-less they do not get their own way all the time. The population of Lions in Africa has seen precipice falls in the last century, and this has not stopped. Tourism is one tool we have to give them financial value to those who share their space with them. Member of the big 5 and ecotourism big 7

Giraffe: While this is a species that is found in the majority of Southern and Eastern African reserves, they are officially classed as endangered, as their population is currently falling so fast. The selous in Tanzania is nicknamed the Griraffe park as there are so many of them.

Zebra are also found in most reserves in Africa, though the number of them is still of interest.

Cheetah Like African Wild dog are a key indicator of the health of the ecosystem. Living at low densities in most reserves (except in places like the Serengeti plains). These are rare sightings, and most reserves do not have many cheetah. Indeed of all the big species, the cheetah is one of the few predators who do better outside reserves.

Hippopotamus: This is another species that does reasonably well outside protected reserves, but their population has fallen fast over the last few years.

Lion Lions are a very clear indication of the health of each ecosystem. If there is a significant population of Lion, then it is a large reserve and therefore there is plenty of space for other species. Check our links at the bottom of the lion page for some of the best place to see them.

Hyena There are thought to be more than 100,000 spotted hyena in Africa, making them the most numerous predator on the continent. They are exciting animals to see, and their call is often one of the species that you hear from your campsite – the weird rising whoop which is the contact call they use between them. Watch the video below to see what I mean. The advantage of the population size is that you are likely to find them in most wilderness areas. Brown hyenas are also widely found, never the less, as they do not do well in close proximity to spotted hyenas which means they are more often found on the edge of reserves and outside them.

Leopard The last member of the big 5 and Ecotourism big 7, the Leopard is a fascinating species. A solitary animal (except mothers with their young) they are the only big cat, or indeed member of the big 5 that is reguarly found outside protected reserves, though this is decreasing over time. A fantastic sighting, they can be very hard to find, and sightings in big reserves are usually very crowded. Generally found near river courses, as these are the places where large trees are found, allowing the Leopard to rest out of danger.

See Animals Wild