African Animals

 

 

 

Buffalo's are extremely large, ox-like animals. Standing approximately 65 inches at the shoulder, adult males have a mass of up to 1760 pounds and females weigh up to 1650 pounds.

To support the large body, the legs are very heavy. Front hooves are larger than the hind because of the extra mass they carry in the huge head and thick neck. Both sexes carry horns, which in the males can grow to 1.5m. Buffalo varies considerably in size, with some of the forest populations half the size of those from the plains and Savannah.

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The African Elephant is the largest living land mammal, one of the most impressive animals on earth. The Elephant's muscular trunk serves as a nose, hand, extra foot, signaling device and a tool for gathering food, siphoning water, dusting, digging and a variety of other functions.

The long trunk permits the elephant to reach as high as 23 feet. It is capable of powerful twisting and coiling movements used for tearing down trees or fighting. The trunk of the African elephant has two finger-like structures at its tip.

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The Zebra belongs to the horse family. Its distinguishing marks are its unique black stripes, akin to the fingerprints on humans.

One of nature's great mysteries is why the Zebra has stripes. One theory is that the stripes help the zebra cool down. On hot days the black stripes get a lot hotter than the white area of the zebra and under the black stripes there are special layers of fat for protection.

Hot air then rises off the black stripes forcing colder air down around the white areas thus cooling the zebra down. This, however is just a theory.

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Lions are the second largest members of the feline family in the world. Lion are tan in colour and have a slightly white under-body, with a tuft of black hair at the end of their tails.

Most cat species live a fundamentally solitary existence, but the lion is an exception. It has developed a social system based on teamwork and a division of labour within the pride, and an extended but closed family unit centres around a group of related females.

The average pride consists of about 15 individuals, including five to 10 females with their young and two or three territorial males that are usually brothers or pride mates.

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The rhinoceros is a large, primitive looking mammal that in fact dates from the Miocene era millions of years ago. In recent decades rhinos have been relentlessly hunted to the point of near extinction.

Since 1970 the world rhino population has declined by 90 percent, with five species remaining in the world today, all of which are endangered.

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The Springbok is the national symbol of South Africa. It prefers the more arid savannahs of the country, moving around at high speeds.

In fear of attack, each springbok lets out a high pitched alarm. Typical of this species is the jumping display which lead to its common name.

Both sexes have horns but those of the ram are thicker and rougher.

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The most secretive and elusive of the large carnivores, the leopard is also the shrewdest. Pound for pound, it is the strongest climber of the larger cats and is capable of killing prey far larger than itself.

The coloring of the leopard varies from white to bright golden brown, spotted with black spots and rosettes. The rosettes consist of groups of 5 to 6 spots arranged in a tight ring. The tail is longer than half the body length measured from head to tail. 

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The graceful impala is a slender, medium-sized antelope so adaptable that it is found from southern Africa to the northern limits of East Africa.

The body is reddish-brown with white hair inside the ears, over each eye and on the chin, upper throat, underparts and buttocks.

A narrow black line runs along the middle of the lower back to the long tail, and a vertical black stripe appears on the back of each thigh. Unlike other antelopes, impalas have large, brushlike tufts of long, coarse black hair that cover a scent gland located just above the heel on each hind leg.

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The kudu is considered to be the most handsome of the tragelaphine antelopes, which includes the bongo, eland, nyala, bushbuck and sitatunga.

Kudus, both the greater kudu and its close cousin the lesser kudu, have stripes and spots on the body, and most have a chevron of white hair on the forehead between the eyes. Greater and lesser kudu males have long, spiral horns; occasionally a female will have small ones.

The greater kudu's horns are spectacular and can grow as long as 72 inches, making 2 1/2 graceful twists. These beautifully shaped horns have long been prized in Africa for use as musical instruments, honey containers and symbolic ritual objects. In some cultures the horns are thought to be the dwelling places of powerful spirits, and in others they are a symbol for male potency. 

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Neither graceful nor beautiful, warthogs are however, remarkable animals. They are found in most of Africa south of the Sahara and are widely distributed in East Africa.

They are the only pigs able to live in areas without water for several months of the year.

By tolerating a higher-than-normal body temperature, the warthog is perhaps able to conserve moisture inside its body that might otherwise be used for cooling.

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Ancient cultures in Africa revered the giraffe, as some modern cultures do today, and commonly depicted it in prehistoric rock and cave paintings. Unknown outside of Africa, early written records described the giraffe as "magnificent in appearance, bizarre in form, unique in gait, colossal in height and inoffensive in character."

The Giraffe moves about the semi-arid regions in groups. Its height allows it to keep in contact with other giraffes over large distances as well as spotting predators from afar. It is not uncommon to see other animals following a giraffe using it as an early predator warning system.

The Giraffe is vulnerable when drinking. It is a quiet species although the males fight viciously for dominance over the group.

The neck is so long the giraffe must spread its front legs apart so its head can reach the ground to drink. It has unusually elastic blood vessels with a series of valves that help offset the sudden buildup of blood (and to prevent fainting) when the head is raised, lowered or swung quickly

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The Wild Dog: Very rarely seen in its natural habitat today, the wild dog is one of southern Africa's most highly endangered mammal species.

As a hunter and meat eater requiring an extensive habitat, it is constantly in competition with humans, and particularly with livestock farmers. Some regard the wild dog's method of killing its prey excessively cruel, so there is a negative attitude towards the animal.

In the wild, lions are the main killers of wild dogs. As a result, the species has been exterminated from large parts of Africa and today it is one of the continent's most rarely encountered animals.

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The Porcupine is a rodent that comes across in the dry desert areas of Africa. Really marvellous African animals. When attacked they ball themselves up in little round balls and use their sharp quills to pierce the skin of their attacker.

There quills come in various shapes and sizes and lengths.

You’ll find a vast array of quills on a porcupine, from the smallest quills of a few inches to long thick strong ones that can pierce through a car tire.

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The Nile crocodile is found throughout Africa. Large, lizard shaped reptile with four short legs and long muscular tail. The hide is rough and scaled.

Juvenile Nile crocodiles are dark olive to brown with darker crossbands on tail and body. Adults are uniformly dark with darker crossbands on tail. Crocodile found throughout tropical and southern Africa in rivers, freshwater marshes, estuaries, and mangrove swamps.

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The Gemsbok is a large antelope of striking appearance with long, spearlike horns. It has a thick, horselike neck with a short mane and a compact, muscular body. A defined pattern of black markings that contrast with the white face and fawn-colored body are prominently displayed in dominance rituals to emphasize the length of horns and strength of the shoulder.

The head is marked with black triangular patches and broad black stripes that extend from the base of the horns over the eyes to the cheeks. A ring of black encircles the throat and runs down the neck to the chest. The ears end in a black tip (a black tassel hangs from the ear tip of the fringe-eared oryx). A narrow black stripe runs along the spine, and another one separates the lower flank from the white underparts of the body. The white forelegs have a black ring above the knee and a black patch below. The black tail tassel reaches to the hocks.

The Oryx's ringed horns are up to 30 inches long, making them formidable weapons. The female's horns are often longer and thinner than the male's.

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