Cities have grown, much land has been given over to farming, hunting has wiped out entire herds, and the times when a herd of springbok could take days to pass through a Karoo town are long past.
Best known are the mammals, the elephant, lion, rhino, leopard and buffalo. Africa’s bushveld and savannah regions are still home to large numbers of the mammals universally associated with Africa. The Kruger National Park alone has well over 10 000 elephants and 20 000 buffaloes – in 1920 there were an estimated 120 elephants left in the whole of South Africa. The white rhino has also been brought back from the brink of extinction and now flourishes both in the Kruger National Park and the Hluhluwe Umfolozi Park in KwaZulu-Natal. Attention now is on protecting the black rhino.
Lesser known wildlife
Other African large animals are the hippo, giraffe, kudu, wildebeest (the famous gnu) and zebra, all frequently seen in Africa’s conservation areas. Heightened awareness, however, has created an increased appreciation of lesser known animals. A sighting of the rare tsessebe (a relative of the wildebeest) may cause as much excitement as the sight of a pride of lion. And while one can hardly miss a nearby elephant, spotting the shy little forest-dwelling suni (Livingstone’s antelope) is cause for self-congratulation. With well over 200 species, a short survey of Africa’s indigenous mammals is a contradiction in terms. Primates are rated highly. In Africa they include the nocturnal bush babies, vervet and samango monkeys, and chacma baboons which – encouraged by irresponsible feeding and under pressure through loss of habitat – have become unpopular as raiders of homes on the Cape Peninsula. The secretive nocturnal aardvark and the aardwolf (which eats termites and is related to the hyaena) are two more appealing creatures, and both are found over virtually the whole country. One mammal whose charm is recently acquired is the wild dog or Cape hunting dog, one of Africa’s most endangered mammals. Once erroneously reviled as indiscriminate killers but now appreciated both for their ecological value and their remarkably caring family behavior, wild dog packs require vast territories. They are found in small numbers in the Kruger National Park and environs, northern KwaZulu-Natal (including the Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Park), the Kalahari, and the Madikwe reserve in North West province. African Wildlife is diverse and wealthy. No other continent matches the wealth of wildlife found in Africa covering the full climatic spectrum from intense heat to bitter cold. Its varied vegetation has given rise to a wide range of animals, including mammals, birds, reptiles, fish and insects.
10 Utterly Bizarre Facts about Africa’s Wildlife
Animals are awesome, and Africa is the ultimate hub of wildlife.
So, what do you get when you combine the two? Besides awesome animals in Africa, a plethora of utterly bizarre fact to learn about the wild ones you can encounter when in Africa..
- Giraffes have a blue tongue.The average length of a giraffe’s tongue is 20 inches and it is indeed blue in color!
- The unsung heroes of Africa must be dung beetles.These little rollers literally live on poop and can roll dung up to 50 times their body weight in a straight line, despite all obstacles! Scientists have also recently discovered they use the Milky Way as a compass.
- We all know a lion’s roar is loud, but did you know it can be heard from a distance of 8 kilometers or 5 miles away?
- Believe it or not, the belief that elephants never forget has more than a bit of truth to it. Elephants have incredible memories. They know every member of their family and can recognize up to 30 companions by sight or smell. They’re also one of the few animals to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, mourn dead members of their herd, and recognize themselves in the mirror.
- Ostriches are the largest and fastest birds on earth. They can sprint over 40 miles an hour (70 kilometers), and one of their eggs can easily feed a dozen hungry men.
- Rhinos have a symbiotic relationship with oxpeckers. The oxpecker eats ticks and insects that it finds on the rhinoceros. The oxpecker gets food and the beast gets a free grooming session.
- Crocodiles are older than dinosaurs. These ancient creatures have been around for over 200 million years, outliving dinosaurs by nearly 60 million years.
- Hyenas are more closely related to dogs than cats, and even more so closely related to meerkats.
- Honey badgers have been listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the most fearless animal on the planet!
- There are a host of weird collective nouns to identify groups of African animals in the bush. A clash of rhino, a dazzle of zebra, a coalition of cheetah, a prickle of porcupine, a leap of leopards, and the list goes on and on.