Ostrich

Both ostrich species Combined PaleoNeolithic photo credit Diego Delso&Ninara

Both ostrich species Combined PaleoNeolithic photo credit Diego Delso&Ninara

Ostrich

Common Ostrich 

Somali Ostrich

The common ostrich is found across a large part of the African Continent. Until 1919 there was a fourth subspecies of the common ostrich which was found across much of the Arabian Peninsular. It was completely extinct in the wild by 1972. They have now been reintroduced to Israel, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and United Arab Emirates – though it is hard to find accurate figures for how many are found there now. (Do get in touch if you operate a reserve with these birds present, we would love to help people find you).

As you can see, the other African subspecies  are still going.

The Somali Ostrich was only recognized as a separate species back in 2014, having been thought to be a subspecies until them.

A report to the IUCN in 2006 believed that this ostrich was common in central and southern Somalia until 1970-80. However, following the breakdown in the country, it is not surprising that conservation took back-stage, and it is questionable as to whether any remain (in the horn of africa).

In Kenya it is farmed for meat, feathers and eggs.

This is a map of the different Ostrich species and subspecies range

  • The yellow area, shows the range of the Somali Ostrich – Now recognized as a separate species.
  • The green area shows the range of the Massai Ostrich – while this population is listed as least concern, its numbers are in decline
  • The red is the South African Ostrich, this is generally secure, though only found within reserves.
  • The Orange is the range of the North African Ostrich: classed as critically endangered, it is only found in 6 of the 18 countries it originally roamed. It is the largest and heaviest subspecies. The countries it is still found in include fragmented pockets of Cameroon, Chad, Central African Republic and Senegal. They have also been reintroduced into Chad, Morocco and in 2014 (127 years after being lost) Tunisia. They were reintroduced to Saudi Arabia in the Mahazat as-Sayd Protected Area in 1994 and this population has done well with around 90-100 now living within this reserve

There is thought to be approximately 150,000 ostrich left in the wild. Having said this, like other large species, they are prone to local extinction. The best way to see these in the wild are to head to reserves where they still exist. 

Unfortunately, they are not easy to look after – in smaller reserves with large predators, they can be hunted and face local extinction. As such, while there are other reserves where they hang on, the majority of their remaining population are split between big reserves like the Kruger and the Serengeti, and small reserves like the Cape point national park in South Africa (this reserve is only 77.5 square km, or around 30 square miles and was in the past a big 5 nature reserve. Now, only the cape leopard is present and this is very rarely seen.

If you wish to see the Ostrich look in our list of wild places. Kruger, Okavango  and the Serengeti all have ostrich (in Kruger you need to look in the more sparsely area in the north of the park).

Birds

Birds

Birds are defined as warm-blooded vertebrates. They have feathers, toothless beaked jaws, a high metabolic rate, a 4 chamber heart, a strong and lightweight skeleton and the laying of hard-shelled eggs.

Now, within these constraints, the birds vary a great deal.

The smallest bird is the bee hummingbird, which has a wingspan of 6.8cm. The largest bird has a wingspan of 3.5m (40 times large). In terms of weight, the bee hummingbird is also the lightest at just 1.95 grams, the Kori bustard weighs as much as 19kg, which is almost 10000 times heavier (heaviest flying bird). The heaviest bird is the Ostrich, which can weigh over 100kg, though these can not fly.

Looking at it in a different way, there are roughly 10,000 species of birds in the world. Now, while this may change as this website grows (both with other authors, and assistance from readers) at the current time, it would be absurd to think that I could build a page for each of these many species. What this page will try to do, is to build a page for each group of birds. Of course, the other point of this website, is that this is to assist in people travelling to see these species in the wild. As such, while I am fully of the opinion that every bird matters, we will concentrate- to begin with, on birds which are popular and/or are interesting to see.

To start, below you will see the initial 2 clades (it should be noted that there was at one time 7 clades, which include clades like Diosaruia), and each clade has two families. 

                                   Palaeognathae (ratites and Tinamou)                                                                                                               Neognathae

Struthionimorphae

This contains just 1 species the Osterich (alongside many extinct species). The male is black, the female is brown

 As this is all of the Struthionimorphae family, you will be able to visit the Osterich page by clicking on either image.

Notopalaeognathae

This contains Rheas, Cassowaries, Emus, Kiwis and Tinamous (as well as the extinct Moas and Elephant bird)

This family includes a number of species so as we build pages, they will be linked to images below (the pictures for these species in directly below here)

Pangalloanserae

There are two subgroups in this group, though Asterionis is extinct. The only other group is Galloanserae or fowl – containing 

180  water-fowl (Anseriformes) species

  290 Land-fowl (Galliformes) Species.

 

Neoaves

This contains the rest of the birds not already included in another group. This is roughly 95% of birds.

Now, Understandably, this group covering 95% of birds, we will not be listing every species. However, we will endeavour to list groups of interest down to a lower level- I know that there is a great deal of interest in birds, and I will rely on this website taking off to a greater degree in order to push this further

This family is large and varied. We are going to start with currently agreed “magnificent seven” supraordinal clades, as well as the three orphaned orders. 

Notopalaeognathae

Neoaves

Albino panda spotted in the wild

Rare albino panda seen again

If anyone has been reading this blog for some time, you may remember me writing about an albino panda that was photographed in wulong nature reserve in China (click here to read it)

This bear has been caught on camera (see above) and appears to be doing well. It has started to display mating behaviour and appears to be extremely healthy. It has all the features generally associated with albinism, with white fur and red eyes.. It is now around 5-6 years old, and has been seen playing with other pandas, suggesting that its unusual colouring is not leading to it being shunned from other pandas.

It was filmed approaching a mother with a 2 year-old cub. As the mother was ready to mate again, and yet did not show aggression to this male bear getting close, it is likely that this female is the mother of the white cub.

Currently thought to be numbered 1800 in the wild, the panda is currently listed as threatened – having been delisted from being endangered in 2016. It is also an integral part of the Giant panda national park which is being created, and links 67 panda reserves, allowing the bears to travel between the former islands of habitat, giving them the ability to breed in a more natural way. This is important, as inbreeding would make panda conservation even harder.

Yellow-spotted Hyrax

Yellow-spotted Hyrax

Photo credit: D. Gordon, E. Robertson

Yellow-spotted Hyrax

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 listed as least concern, though in some areas it is 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.

Kruger National Park and Mapungubwe National Park, are two reserves where they can be seen.

Countries containing at least some of their range, include  Angola, Botswana, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, southern Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Somalia, northern South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe

Though rock hyraxes resemble rodents, their closest living relatives are actually elephants and manatees.

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

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

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

Common Eland

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 you by searching for it in the box at the bottom of the page.

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

Red Lechwe antelope are found in a band across Africa, including areas of Eastern, Central and Western Africa.

There are 3 subspecies:

  • The western kob, is found in the west
  • The Ugandan Kob is found in sub-Saharan Africa in South Sudan, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
  • The white eared Kob is found in Western Ethiopia and South Sudan (this is one of the main animals in the huge migration within sudan)
None are currently threatened with extinction. Their total population is 50,000-60,000
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 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.

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

Primate family tree main and great and lesser apes

Primate family tree

The primates are in some ways one of the most successful families. It is true that many are now endangered, however, unfortunately, that is as a result of the run-away success of the most successful member of the primate family us! Having left the rainforests behind, we have been reducing their coverage dramatically over the last few centuries. 

The sad thing, is that while we have pushed many of our closest cousins towards extinction, the loss of forests may well cost us dearly in the future as well. As a species, we need to pull together to meet this challenge. in order to jump to the various families, click on the family of interest above – though all can also be reached by scrolling down.

Great Apes

Great ape Family split is thought to have split from its nearest relative – the gibbon family, around 17 million years ago.

4 million years later the Orangutan family split from the gorilla line and the human/chimp line.

3 million years after this (so around 10 million years ago) the gorilla family split from the Homo (humans) and Pan

Finally the human line (homo) split from the Pan line 5-6 million years ago.

It should be noted, that chimpanzees and Bonobos split from a common ancestor just 1.8 million years ago. This occurred as the two populations ceased to be able to have contact with each other – the Congo rive formed between 1.5 and 2 million years ago.

For more information on each species, click on their photo and this will take you to their page

It should be noted that while I have grouped eastern western and skywalker gibbon together, there is some contention that the skywalker gibbon should be in its own genus, having diverged around half a million years aog

Gibbons

Indo-Pacific finless porpoise

Indo-Pacific Finless dolphin

 They are found in most of the Indian Ocean, as well as the tropical and subtropical Pacific from Indonesia north to the Taiwan Strait. Overlapping with this species in the Taiwan Strait and replacing it northwards is the East Asian finless porpoise.

They are one of the species protected by the Sundarbans national park, which lies between India and Bangladesh.

Growing to 2.3m at most, and with a weight of up to 72kg (most individuals are far, far, smaller). They eat a wide range of foods from fish and crustations to vegetation such as leaves and rice, and eggs that have been deposited on these leaves.

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

See Animals Wild