Africa

Buchells Zebra- These relatives of the horse live throughout Sub-Saharan Africa and are one of the most common species of zebra.  They will gang up to protect their young and more than an occasional lion has wound up with a broken jaw because of the zebra’s powerful kick. The zebra is the only hoofed animal that will bite in self-defense or fighting.  No two zebras have the same markings; their stripes are like human fingerprints African Elephant- The largest land mammal in the world, this behemoth was poached almost to extinction up to as late as 1985 when a worldwide ban on ivory sales went into effect. Since that time, it has made a slow comeback, but it too has not been without a cost. A mature elephant weighs as much as 12,000 lbs. and eats a ton of vegetation per day.  Being a matriarchal herd animal, the bulls are solitary or found in “bachelor” herds except during mating season. Similar to man, elephants are able to breed from 14 years of age until about age 40. Gestation period for a calf is about two years. Newborn elephants are very prone to predation and are jealously protected by the entire herd.  Today, because of international protection against over harvest and individual efforts of the countries in which they live, elephant populations are slowly reappearing. For example, in 1975, 144,000 elephants lived in the Luangwe Valley, Zambia. By 1990, fewer than 12,000 were left.  By 1996, that population had increased to over 30,000. Similarly, in Zimbabwe, before the establishment of Hwange National Park in the 1920’s, fewer than 4,000 elephants existed there. In 1996, that population was over 100,000 and increasing! In olden times, bull elephants with tusks of over 100 lbs. apiece were common (the largest known is somewhere in the area of 230 lbs.). Today, 100 pounders are very rare, with very good specimens being less than 60 lbs. There are two reasons for this: The first is that it takes many years of breeding to produce tusks of this size and mass. The second reason is that some large-tusked bulls are unable to breed due to the size of their tusks! Therefore, it takes longer to establish the genetics.  These tusks are 104 and 105 lbs. apiece. They were legally taken in Kenya in 1965, and acquired from an estate of the former owner. African Leopard- These solitary predators are found throughout sub-Saharan Africa. Hunting primarily at night, they are seen only rarely during the day. Their principal prey is a medium sized animal such as bushbuck, impala and warthog. Similar to the common house cat, they can scurry up a tree with ease, actually preferring to consume their prey and sleep in trees. Extremely strong for its size, the leopard can easily carry a dead animal of its own weight (100-160 lbs) up a tree where it can consume it without competition from lions or hyenas.  Though formally listed as endangered by the CITES, the African leopard population is very healthy and on the increase. Sable- With its long backward-sloped horns, this large antelope is found on the savannah of eastern Zambia, Zimbabwe, Tanzania and South Africa. The mature bulls, such as these species, are black. Younger males and females are brown in color. They live in herds of up to 20 animals. Aoudad- The Aoudad is also known as Barbary sheep and is a member of the goat family.  They stand about 40 inches high, and have soft hair hanging from their throat.  Found in the high areas of Africa, they are the only wild sheep found there.  Their diet consists of fruits and leaves. Cape Buffalo- Primarily a plains animal, the Cape buffalo can occur either as solitary individuals or in herds of several hundred animals. A large bull can weigh over 2,000 lbs. Lions are the only predator large enough to challenge a buffalo, and usually three or four are required to do so. There have been many a lion either killed or severely injured in an attempt to take on a buffalo.  With the exception of solitary old bulls that have been rejected by the herd, buffalo will try to escape man at every opportunity. Old bulls, called kakules, which have been cut from the herd are very unpredictable and have been known to lie in ambush and charge at close range. The large part of the horns is called “bosses.” In a young animal, the bosses are “soft” with a cartilage band between them. As they age, the horns join. Kirk Dik Dik- This diminutive antelope is a full-grown male. There are several subspecies of Dik dik’s that can be found throughout sub-Saharan Africa. Kirk’s dik dik is found principally in northern Tanzania, Kenya and Ethiopia Klipspringer- One of the small African antelope, klipspringers live in the rocky hills (commonly called kopjes) surrounded by the African plains. This specimen is a mature adult male. Another characteristic is that its’ hairs are hollow. Lord Derby Eland- Commonly called the “giant eland”, he is the largest antelope in Africa and is 20% larger than the other subspecies of eland. They are found in the bushy Savannah of central Africa. Hyena-Commonly thought to be scavengers, the hyena is an efficient predator in its own right. Its competition for food with the lion is well known. The female is twice the size of the male and dominates the pack. Hyenas are remarkably strong with 2,500 lbs. per square inch of crushing power in its jaws - enough to hold on to a struggling zebra or pulverize the bones of a wildebeest. Thompsons Gazelle- Another of the smaller antelope, they are found only in east Africa in areas such as the Serengeti plains. Extremely agile, they are adept at quick lateral movements, allowing them to elude faster predators such as the cheetah, its principle predator. Warthog- Common throughout sub-Saharan Africa, this member of the pig family lives in holes burrowed in the ground. This provides protection from predators and an excellent place to raise their piglets. One frequently sees them scurrying across the Savannah with their tufted tails in the air. They can run fast enough to outdistance a lion or hyena on their short, stubby legs. Bush Pig- The African bush pig, or Red River hog, requires relatively dense vegetation and moist, soft soils.  People gave the bush pig a boost by killing leopards (a major predator) and by planting crops, which bush pigs think are just for them. They mainly eat roots, bulbs, and fallen fruit usually. They like dense cover and are found in thicket, forest and wet areas. The single species, P. porcus, occurs through much of Africa south of the Sahara.  The male has warts in front of the eye, which are often are concealed by facial hair. The African bush pig is found in a variety of habitats. It is most active at night and rests by day in a self-excavated burrow within an area of dense vegetation. It is a fast runner and a good swimmer. When cornered or wounded, it exhibits considerable courage and frequently attacks. It weighs 120 to 180 lbs. This gregarious animal lives in groups of up to forty, although the average number is nearer twenty. The group moves together over large territories searching for food. This pig feeds on almost anything, including vegetable matter, insects, eggs, and even dead animals. Unlike the red river hog, the coat of the bush pig is shaggy and varies in color from light reddish brown to gray-brown to almost black.  The long, bristly hairs form a distinct, partially erectile mane or cape over the dorsal part of the animal, starting between the ears and extending to the rear.  Their life span is approximately 20 years. The most common vocalization is a grunt, with squeals and roars being infrequently emitted. Genet- Although catlike in appearance and habit, the genet is not a cat but a member of the family Viverridae.  Genets vary in color from brownish-gray to pale yellow or buff with dark brown or black spots.  They are mainly nocturnal, however, are often seen during the day in the rainy season.  They mature by age 2 and live about 8 years in the wild. Honey Badger- Africa’s most fearless animal despite size is the Honey Badger.  They are jet black with a gray mantle that is separated by a white stripe.  They are well adapted to their digging life style with a powerful stocky build, strong back, and bowed-legs.  The Honey Badger is only carnivorous. Giraffe- Early written records described the giraffe as "magnificent in appearance, bizarre in form, unique in gait, colossal in height and inoffensive in character." Ancient cultures in Africa revered the giraffe, as some modern cultures do today, and commonly depicted it in prehistoric rock and cave paintings. 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. A giraffe can weigh up to 3000 pounds. Although they drink water when it is available, they can survive where it is scarce. They occasionally eat grass and fruits of various trees and shrubs, but their principal food source is the acacia tree. Giraffes are found in arid and dry-savanna zones south of the Sahara, wherever trees occur.  They have a life span of 28 years. Warthog- Common throughout sub-Saharan Africa, this member of the pig family lives in holes burrowed in the ground. This provides protection from predators and an excellent place to raise their piglets. One frequently sees them scurrying across the Savannah with their tufted tails in the air. They can run fast enough to outdistance a lion or hyena on their short, stubby legs. Baboon- The largest members of the monkey family, baboons have heads with long, naked, dog-like muzzles.  Depending on the species, they weigh approximately 14 to 40 kg with females being about half the size of males.  Baboons live in troops and are only secure within their own troop. Black-Fronted Duiker-  The black-fronted duiker is found in the same forests as Peter’s Duiker and the bay duiker; however, it prefers swampy habitat and has elongated feet, which prevent it from sinking into the mud.  They are one of six animals of international conservation interest. Blue Duiker-The blue duiker is the smallest species of the duiker.  It can weigh between 4-10 kilograms with a shoulder height of about 30-40 centimeters.  They can be found virtually anywhere in Africa in areas with dense vegetation or rain-forests such as Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania. Bongo- This spiral horned antelope is related to the Kudu and lives in the deep jungles of central Africa. They are adapted to the deep bush with their short legs, enabling them to move silently beneath the forest canopy. Little is known about the habits of bongo due to their secretive nature. He will fight back fiercely if cornered, but tends to be shy and illusive preferring to feed at night and lie up on the dense bush during the day. Red-flanked Duiker-The red-flanked duiker is a tiny antelope ranging from Senegal to southwestern Sudan and from northeastern Uganda south to Cameroon and northern Zaire.  They are territorial and usually live in pairs (possibly with one youngster).

West Africa Display-This display features a variety of species from West Africa including the Western Roan, baboon, Bongo of the West, Red-Flanked Duiker, Blue Duiker, and the Black fronted Duiker.

Western Roan- The second largest antelope, this Roan comes from western Africa. Horns in both sexes rise from the top of the head and sweep backwards in an even curve and are ridged almost to the tips. Males are larger and more heavily built than females, with longer, thicker horns; the penis sheath is clearly visible.  Roans have very strict requirements for lightly wooded savanna with open areas of medium to tall grass and access to water. Bush encroachment or removal of tall grass by other grazers degrades roan habitat. Their lifespan is 10- 12 years. Roans are the selected prey of lions, leopard, cheetah, and wild dog. They are most active in the morning and late afternoon and spend the hottest part of the day in shade.   Females have a dominance hierarchy, older cows tending to be dominant. Status is maintained by horn clashing. Young males up to 5-6 years old live in small bachelor herds of up to nine.  Adult bulls that do not associate with nursery herds live alone.  They challenge males entering the exclusion zone by standing in a dominant pose with neck arched; chin tucked in, and ears out sideways. Lowered head, upright ears, and tail being swished or tucked between the legs are a signal of submission. Intruders who do not submit may be tackled with horn clashing and head pushing. Serious fights for take-over of a herd are lengthy contests of horn hooking and wrestling, both animals going down onto their knees; usually, one contestant breaks and runs before he is seriously injured.  Calves lie hidden for 6 weeks; they rely on concealment to avoid predators and do not flee even if closely approached. Roan Antelope are very courageous animals. If threatened by predators, including Lion, they will confront them, and many of these big cats have perished, gored by the scimitar-shaped horns of Roans.  The call of the Roan is an unusually musical whistle. It changes in adulthood with three basic sounds having been recorded, a high-pitched squeal signifying anger, an equine snort for alarm, and a low hissing sound when wounded. African Lion- Prevalent throughout sub-Saharan Africa, the lion is the only predatory cat that hunts and lives in a group. The females are the primary hunters whose prey includes big game such as Cape buffalo, zebra, large antelope, topi, and wildebeest. Being extremely territorial, a male will mark his territory by urination. A scene such as this would be rare with two mature male lions together.  Typically, if a male lion takes over a pride (such as if the former dominant male were killed), he would kill all the cubs bringing the females into estrus so that he could breed his offspring.  The chilling roar of a lion can be heard for several miles, challenging all comers. Unfortunately, man’s gradual depletion of habitat has restricted the lion’s range to a fraction of its previous area.
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