These small mammals feast on the large numbers of carnivores that supply them with sufficient carcasses. Often seen nose up in the air and ears twitching, jackals are forever waiting for their superiors to leave their kill. They do, however, also prey on newly born animals,mice, birds, eggs and even insects. (Other species not described: Jackal, Side-striped)
With their unusually long legs and neck, giraffes are the tallest land mammals in the world and are able to reach those leaves and seed-pods of trees that their fellow browsers cannot. Giraffe are susceptible to attack by lion and many are killed each year, which is not to say that they are easy prey. The many scars on their necks bear testimony to their formidable defence skills - a kick from a distraught giraffe can kill or severely injure any careless predator.
Also known as the aardvark, this mammal has a long flexible snout and a sticky tongue, which it uses to trap its food - mainly ants and termites. Antbears may travel up to 16 km a night searching for new termite mounds.
This stately antelope is one of the largest antelopes in Africa, second only to the eland. They are greyish-brown in colour, the males being slightly darker than the females. Both males and females have heavy ringed horns that curve towards the back.
Opportunistic hunters and scavengers, most people share mixed feelings of fascination and disdain for hyenas, spotted particularly around kills. Not particularly appealing in terms of appearance, hyenas are characterised by large rounded ears and a sloping back angling down from high shoulders to somewhat lower buttocks. They are the fiercest enemy of the lion.
The largest antelopes in Africa, these animals move in herds of up to a thousand and are known for their agility and ability to jump a height of 2 m with ease. An interesting characteristic of an eland herd is that it includes a nursery for its calves. When threatened by predators, the herd forms a front, with the large males taking the lead positions. This fortress protects the calves and pregnant females.
This graceful and beautiful medium sized antelop is often considered to be one of the most abundant animals. Agile and vulnerable to predators, they mostly congregate in herds, be they breeding herds or bachelor herds of males unable to secure their harem of females.
A browser of leaves and fruit, this is the smallest antelope species in Africa. They are well adapted to living in forests, drink regularly and lie up during the day.
They mark territories with secretions from facial glands. A muchpoached species, they are also preyed upon by Crowned Eagles and pythons.
The large ears and magnificent horns of the males are characteristic of these majestic antelopes. Males will fight for the privilege of mating and in a few instances, dead kudu have been found with their horns inextricably intertwined, presumably having starved as a result of being unable to separate.
Mainly carnivorous these animals have attractive bushy coats, spotted on the body with stripes on the legs and a bushy tail. Secretive and nocturnal, they lie up during the day in tall grass, bush-reed beds and holes in the ground. The civet secretes an oily tar-like substance when excited.
Common gregarious animals, these monkeys are found in family troops or small parties. Not strictly arboreal, they take readily to the ground in search of food and to drink. Theirsenses are acute and they are constantly on the alert against predators, their main ones beingthe leopard and crowned eagle.
Elegant and determined, the cheetah is the fastest land mammal on earth. This slender, long-legged diurnal predator hunts its prey by chasing it down in short bursts of speed that may reach up to 100 km/h, steering and balancing its body with its long tail. Less bulky than leopards, their coats patterned with full black dots, cheetahs can most easily be distinguished by the 'tear marks' running down from the inside of their eyes to the outside of the mouth.
The African Elephant is the largest terrestrial mammal. Elephants live in tightly knit family groups led by a matriarch. The bulls remain solitary or may band together to form bachelor herds.
A fully grown elephant weighs between 6,000 and 7,000 kg. When there are young in the herd the adult female may become aggressive and it is advisable not to venture too close to the herd.
This cat is medium-sized, reddish brown in colour with faint orange white spots and unique black tufts on its ear tips. To communicate these animals purr, tweet, growl and hiss when threatened. Should you be fortunate to spot one (they are nocturnal and extremely shy), you would do well to treat it with the same respect you would for its larger cousins since the caracal is a deadly predator and will attack if it feels cornered or threatened.
Unpredictable activity makes baboons different from most African wildlife. Apart from rising well after dawn, going to roost before dark, grooming and socialising mainly before and after foraging, a troop may be active at any time of day. Baboons are known for their highly protective instinct towards their young.
These shy medium sized antelope prefer lush riverine vegetation as their habitat and vary in colour from fawn to a rich red-brown. The stripes and spots which break the continuum of the body outline serve as excellent camouflage when these antelopes retreat into the thick bush as soon as they have been spotted.
Honey badgers are fearless, display considerable aggression and have a powerful bite. They are good diggers and are particularly fond of digging out hardened dung-beetle balls in search of larvae. They enjoy a wide variety of food, including reptiles, insects, eggs, ground birds, wild fruit, scorpions, grubs and the honey of bees
These endearing nocturnal animals are frequently seen on evening drives in their favourite surroundings - branches - to which they will leap a full 5 m when in good shape.
A subspecies of the Highveld, this grazer is capable of withstanding cold. Both sexes carry horns and are highly territorial. When disturbed they run upwind in single file.
Enchanting little animals, these mammals are highly gregarious and are usually encountered close to their burrows. Active by day, they scratch for insects or a wide range of other small prey, running about with short rapid movements interrupted by abrupt stops to peer inquisitively into the distance for signs of danger.
- Page 1