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

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

Fin Whale

Fin Whale

The fin whale which is also known as finback whale or common rorqual and formerly known as herring whale or razorback whale, is the second longest species of whale, with the largest species growing to a reported 27m, and weighing a maximum recorded weight of 74 tonnes, and a maximum estimated weight of 114 tonnes.

It is a fast swimmer, able to outpace the fastest steamships.

There are 2 recognized subspecies, in the northern and southern hemisphere. Around 725,000 southern fin whales were taken during whaling, and there are around 38,000 that roam the oceans as of 1997. Across the world around 112,000 roam the oceans.

Although the genetic differences between the fin whale and the blue whale are considered similar to that of humans and gorillas (they are thought to have been split for 3.5 million years) and hybrids have been recorded from time to time.

Average dives are around 6 minutes, with the longest dives recorded being around 17 minutes.

Found around the world, though not found close to the polar ice caps at either end of the globe. They appear to be clearly migratory, but it has not been possible to fully work out what this migration pattern might be.

 

 

A flurry of wolves born in California: are they making a comeback?

Grey wolves from Oregon now appear to be thriving in California (where they disappeared from about 100 years ago).

Wolves and cubs in California

Wolves have never been reintroduced to California, instead they were returned to Yellowstone, re-entered Oregan back in 1999, and then entered California in 2008.

Short of a sudden sustained assault on their numbers, they are back in California and are likely to multiply over the next few decades to take back up their position as apex predators. This should not be feared in any way, with sensible management, it could end up benefiting California, with healthier ecosystems, less car crashes caused by wildlife amongst many other benefits.

aaa Reindeer migration

Reindeer migration

Reindeer migration essentially allows the reindeer to take advantage of seasonally available food. Typically reindeer are in the habit of migrating seasonally. They are on the move at all times, spending the late spring and summer on the arctic tundra or coast and moving inland to the boreal forests of the taiga for the winter.

aaa Sian ka’an biosphere reserve, Monarch butterfly migration Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico

Sian ka'an biosphere reserve, Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico

 

 

Bottlenose dolphin, Sea green turtle, Caribbean manatee, Central American Tapir, Forest condor or real condor, Jaguar, Howling monkey, Ocelote in Sian Ka’an, Western manatees can all be found in this reserve. 

 

The reserve is made up of tropical forests, mangroves, marshes and a large area of ocean.  The reserve’s name can be translated as gate of heaven. 

 

The reserve covers over 5000 Square km, Part of which is land and the rest is in the coral sea and includes a large area of coral reef.

 

This is an 8 minute video of someone exploring some of this reserve

aaa The black forest, Germany

The black forest, Germany

This is a large forested mountain range in southwest Germany boarded by the Rhine valley to the west and close to the borders with France and Switzerland. Both the source of the Danube and Nekar river is in this mountain range. With a length of around 100 miles at an area of over 2,300 square miles it is a significant patch of wilderness.


With wolves just returning to the country, their migration into the black forest is only just beginning. Indeed, while in recent years it was known that there were a couple of lone males in the reserve, a lone female has recently been seen – suggesting that it is highly likely young wolf cubs will arrive in the next few years. Other than the wolves there are boar, lynx, otters, foxes, red and roe deer and a variety of other animals.

Linking bear and wolf populations across Europe is the best way to preserve them longterm – is this possible?

The Pyrennes in the south west of France, and the corresponding area across the border, are a wonderful area of wilderness. There are currently about 64 bears living in this area. So where are we on the road to recovery?

Were the the entire Pyrennes mountains wild, it is thought that these mountains could support 600 bears. However, this area is not an area that is set aside for wilderness – there is a whole population of humans living in these mountains (almost 700,000 people live here).

It is thought that the bear population of the Pyrennes could potentially get to 250 in its current form.

Continue reading “Linking bear and wolf populations across Europe is the best way to preserve them longterm – is this possible?”

African wild dog

African wild dog

Whether there were originally multiple African wild dog subspecies, these have not been retained. There were once 500,000 wild dogs roaming Africa. There are currently just 6600, spread across Africa, though many of the populations are unlikely to be genetically healthy long-term.

The Kruger wild dog population swings between extremes. In 2007 there were about 350 within the Limpopo transfrontier park. in 2022 there are thought to be about 800 wild dogs in the same area.

The Serengeti wild dog population disappeared during 1995 – wild dogs are highly sociable animals, so illness can wipe out populations. Wild dogs appear to have help on and there are thought to be about 120 at the moment. Inoculation of the domestic dog population surrounding the park will hopefully stop this happening again, and the population will grow back to the former highs -where packs 100 strong could be seen chasing the Wildebeest migration across the plains.

The largest single population lives in the Selous reserve (much of this reserve is now classed as the Nyerere national park) with a population of perhaps as many as 1000.

There are thought to be about 700 wild dogs in northern Botswana.

There are small populations all over Africa, such as 100 in Chad, but whether these survive long-term is another question. The map below shows the huge number of small populations all over Africa. The total african wild dog population is thought to be around 7000, with 700 packs.

There are 5 subspecies that have been recognized:

  • Cape wild dogs                   This is the only subspecies that appears to be doing relatively well with around 4000 animals left (though the underestimate                                                            the current population of the Kruger – while in the past it has been as low as 350, the current population is at its peak of around                                                       850. Significant wild dog populations in this subspecies include the Kruger, while the KAZA transfrontier park is likely to be                                                              another. (Botswana is thought to host around 1300 wild dogs within its boundary, with most of the other countries in the region                                                      having at least 500 somewhere in the country. 
  • East African wild dog     The east African wild dog has a number of good population – Selous has around 800-1000, while the Laikipia region of Kenya is                                                        thought to host around 300 of this rare animal
  • West African wild dog- The West African wild dog used to be widespread from western to central Africa, from Senegal to Nigeria. Now only two                                                                        subpopulations survive: one in the Niokolo-Koba National Park of Senegal and the other in the W National Park of Benin,                                                                       Burkina Faso and Niger. It is estimated that 70 adult individuals are left in the wild – split pretty evenly split between these two                                                         population.
  • Somali wild dog-                The Somali wild dog is thought to be extinct in Somali, though some are thought to survive in Ethiopia. Bale Mountains national                                                         park is known for Ethiopian wolves, but it is thought that 1 pack of around 30 Somali wild dog also live here (though they live in                                                         the dense Harenna forest, so perhaps they never meet. There are likely, some other wild dog in the country, but it is unlikely                                                                that the whole population excedes more than 100.
    tains National Park
  • Chadian wild dog-             The only part of this population that lives on protected land, are found within the Manovo-Gounda St. Floris National Park in the                                                       Central African republic.           
Limpopo Transfrontier park including Kruger sabi sands and other conservation areas
Greater Serengeti

Two different walrus seen in British waters this year – future? Might they become native once again?

I wrote back in March about a Walrus that was seen around Ireland for some time.

There were 2 walrus in British waters last year, a male and a female. The last male walrus and his harem of 3 females were killed back in 1847. Both walrus are thought to be young.

2 Walrus in a country of ours is not many. Indeed, 2 walrus in the waters of the British Isles is very few. However, if the same 2 walrus were to return next year and meet, it is not impossible that young walrus result. This could become the start of a new walrus colony.

We do not think of the UK as an Arctic country, but we are a natural part of the Walrus range so the natural return of these animals would be very positive.

Could Walrus return, and thrive here? could we have a population of hundreds of walrus in a few decades? The advantage of sea-faring mammals, is that they can return on their own. Walrus can be dangerous if humans get too close, never-the-less the risk of harm to humans is incredibly low, indeed far different to that of wolves and bears (and the risks of injury from these species are already very low). The return of walrus can only be good. They are essential for a healthy sea ecosystem, in the same way that land based carnivores are also needed.

Were a male and a female walrus to meet somewhere remote on the coast of Scotland, I could well imagine it being the start of a Walrus colony in the UK once again. The last dominant male and his 3 sows were killed about 150 years ago, it is about time that this animal would return. Walrus have significant impacts on ecosystems that they live in. Indeed, they do so much, that they are known are keystone species. so their permanent return would be highly positive. Importantly, as they prefer feeding at the bottom of shallow waters, eating clams, molluscs, worms, snail, soft shell crabs, shrimps and sea cucumbers, they are not generally competing with any of the species that humans harvest.

I hope to be able to report on more similar visits in the near future.

See Animals Wild