Our Beautiful World

Wildlife on Africa's Horn  

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© Photo Des & Jen Bartlett, National Geographic, March 1983

 Wildlife in Africa (uten link er på denne siden)
Yellow mungo
Spotted hyena

Somalila is rich in the larger wild animals. Among them are the lion (Somali name l’ibah)
and elephant, though these have been to a large extent driven from the northern coast districts;
the black or double-horned rhinoceros, common in central Ogaden; leopards, abundant in many
districts, panthers; spotted and striped hyenas (the latter rare); foxes, jackals, badgers,
pangolins, servals and wild dogs; giraffes and a great variety of antelopes.

The antelopes include the beisa oryx fairly common and widely distributed;
the greater and lesser kudu (the greater kudu is not found on the Ogaden plateau) ;
the Somali hartebeest (Bubalis Swaynef), found only in the Haud and Ogo districts;
waterbuck, rare except along the Webi Shebeli and the Nogal; the dol or Somali bushbuck;
the dibatag or Clarke’s gazelle; the giraffe-like gerenuk or WaIler’s gazelle, very common;
the aoul or Soemmering’s gazelle, widely distributed; the dero (Gazella Speki);
and the small dikdik or sakaro antelope, found in
almost every thicket.

The zebra (Equus grevyi) is found in Ogaden and places to the south, the wild ass in the northern
regions. There are wart hogs, baboons (maned and maneless varieties), a tree monkey,
jumping shrews, two kinds of squirrel, a small hare, and rock rabbits.

Text about wildlife from: http://22.1911encyclopedia.org/S/SO/SOMALILAND.htm

Marabou, Leptoptilos crumeniferus

Primarily carrion-eaters, marabou storks have been known to prey on flamingos,
but here one have learned how to go after large doves. Most probably this was triggered
by the abundance of doves following a rainy season when the birds raised several broods under
unusual favorable conditions.

© Photo Des & Jen Bartlett, National Geographic, March 1983

Marabou, Leptoptilos crumeniferus

Weight: 4 - 8,9 kg
High: 115-152 cm
Living in tropical part of Africa. Mostly on savannas, wetlands and by riversides and lakes.
The Maribou is easily recognizeable by its bill, an almost featherless head, and its extraordinary size.
Althous its strong bill, it is not clever at getting meat and skin off the animals, so it often prefers to steal from other
predators i e other vultures. Often it lives close to people, where it can find garbage etc. Some times it also keep
close to flocks of animals, as those make the insects in the gras to fly up when they pass.

Cameleon, Chamaeleo ....

Direct hit snares a grasshopper meal for a chameleon. In the micro-second of impact,
the lizard's sticky tongue stretches out longer than its 6 inch body

© Photo Des & Jen Bartlett, National Geographic, March 1983

Elliot's Kamæleon, Chamaeleo ellipse

Cameleons (from greek khamai, «ground» and leon, «lion», that makes it an earthlion, is an animal living mostly on insects,
but some times also vegetarian. Wellknown for changing color after its surroundings, or when it becomes upset.
. They live in all biotops, from hush jungle on Madagaskar to the sanddunes of Northern Africa.

There are about 100 species in Africa, India, Pakistan and one in Europa. Most of them grows up to 30 and 50 cm length,
some even up to 70 cm. A few small ones only about 5 cm.
Their eyes are working independently, one moves when the other not, or in different directions..

Serval, Felis serval

The serval, caracal and wild cat make up the group of small to medium-sized cats of East Africa.
They are not as well-known as the large cats, probably because they are smaller, mainly nocturnal
and solitary.

Servals are common on the savannas where there is plenty of water. They seem to prefer areas
of bush, tall grass and dry reed beds near streams, but are found in high-altitude moorlands
and bamboo thickets.

A serval has a territory of up to 5 square miles that it continually marks by spraying urine on grass
and bushes along the borders. The marking alerts servals in overlapping territories to keep
their distance.

Servals are notorious poultry raiders. They are quite successful hunters,
catching an average of 50 percent of all prey hunted; they seldom eat carrion.

Text with permission from: http://www.awf.org/wildlives/185

ARKive video - Serval stalking and attempting to catch Abdim's storks  
Serval stalking and attempting to catch Abdim's storks
BBC Natural History Unit

ARKive video - Servals catching and eating Abdim's storks
Servals catching and eating Abdim's storks
BBC Natural History Unit

Breeding herd of elephant cows and young drink at a water hole.
© Photo Des & Jen Bartlett, National Geographic,
March 1983


There are two species of elephants, the African Elephantden, Loxodonta africana, and the Indian Elephant, Elephas maximus.
How to see who's who? First of all, you obviously find the african specie in Africa. There it lives on the savannas, dry steppes, impenitrable jungle, woodland and way up in the mountains, up to 3.500 above sea level.
The Indian Elephant lives in Burma/Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia, India, Sumatra and on Sri Lanka.
Easiest way to distinguish one, in case you should meet one, is to observe the ears. The Indian Elephant has the smaller ones,
and the African Elephant has its back bowed upward. On their backfeet, the Indian has 4-5 nails, the African only three.

Wildlife Pictures Online - providing quality wildlife photos from Africa

A full grown up African Elephant can reach 6.000 kg, and that's because it ates about 300 kg vegetables
and uses 150 liter freshwater, however, it doesn't drink it all. Some of it is used for showering.

Do you believe such a big animal should be able to climb mountains? It easily climbs up torny slopes, even at places where a trained human will have difficulties. This ability to walk around in mountains was a wellknown phenomena to the Khartagian armyleader Hannibal, when he led an army with elephants over the Alps and conquered the romans.

Don't indian elephants freeze in the night?
Wildlife Pictures Online - providing quality wildlife photos from Africa

It is a common theory that the African Elephant has big ears to be able to regulate the temperature inside its big body.
If it is too hot, it waves the ears, and at night and in the cool hours of early morning, it keeps the ears close to its body to
keep it warm. However, you need to tell me how the Indian Elephant solves this problem without big ears.
Doesn't it freeze at night?
I'm just wondering.

ARKive video - Juvenile African elephant trying to climb up muddy bank
Juvenile African elephant, Loxodonta africana, trying to climb up muddy bank
Aquavision TV Productions / Wildlife Filmmakers, Buccleuch, South Africa

Another theory is that the elephants have a poor sight. They can't even see the difference between a tree and a human at a distance of only 30 meters. But - the weakest wind can make it smell a human being several hundred meters away.

Wildlife Pictures Online - providing quality wildlife photos from Africa
Elephant-cemetery - fact or untrue?
Those of you that have read books about the early scientist and explorers, whom during the 18th century got into the inner
part of Africa, would have learned that the elephants, when about to die, searched for a special place, a cemetery where its relatives aldo once arrived to die. Believing those stories, quite a few adventurers went seeking those places to collect ivory.

Now we know (do we?) that an epidemic in a large flock of elephants can take many lives, and those will then naturally
be found close to each other. African natives also could kill large herds of elephants, and that also gave large collections
of sceletons. For a native, ivory was not of special value, however, the meat was a way to stay alive, and far more important.

Look here, and see if you can get sight of an elephant in this very moment
by clicking here to the web-camera on our 'Wildlife in Africa'-page.': CLICK HERE

Wildlife Pictures Online - providing quality wildlife photos from Africa

Giraf, Giraffa camelopardalis

Bones that escape the viselike jaws
of hyenas are often gnawed by giraffes,
behavior that may add minerals to their
diet. This is the first such photograph
published. "He worked this bone in and
out like a sword-swallower, " says
Des Bartlett.
© Photo Des & Jen Bartlett, National Geographic, March 1983

The largest male-giraffes may reach 6 meter in height. That way they can eat from the top of the trees, with no competition
from other animals, that have to keep to lower branches. When you see a giraffe, it is seldom alone. It prefers to keep
togehter with relatives and friends in flocks of 5 to 8 animals. However, if you see the same giraffe the next day,
it may well be together in a second flock, as they changes all the time.

You won't hear much sound from a giraffe, and previously one thought they were mute. But it sure has a voice, but at a very
high frequency. But the giraffes prefer to do as many other silent animals, they use their body to talk to others.
A nerveus waving by the tail, tells the rest of the flock to be alert.

ARKive video - Giraffe getting up from floor and running
Giraffe, Giraffa camelopardalis, getting up from floor and running
BBC Natural History Unit

Then here is one that doesn't have to climb the trees to get his food:

The giraffe, Giraffa camelopardalis, family Giraffidae, order Artiodactyla, is the tallest of all animals, as much as 5.5 m high.
A series of valves in the vessels of the vascular system ensures a blood supply to the head. The shoulder height may be
up to 3.7 m , and the weight 1,400 kg . There are usually three skin-covered horns, two on top of the head and one
between the eyes. Patterns and shades of dark patches on the tawny coat, which help conceal the animals
when they stand in the shade of trees, vary among the subspecies. The long tongue is used for plucking leaves from trees.
Giraffes live on tree-dotted grasslands south of the Sahara in Africa. Their chief foods are acacia and mimosa leaves.
When startled, a giraffe can gallop up to 48 km/h (30 mph) for a moderate distance. The female gives birth to a single
young, rarely twins. The lifespan is from 15 to 20 years

Vulture, Trigonoceps ...

There is only one wqay to get to the foodtable, line up, and wait for its turn.
White backed Vulture, Trigonoceps occipitalis

© Photo Des & Jen Bartlett, National Geographic,
March 1983

Noone seems to love the vultures. They eat garbage, and they do not at all look pretty. Yet, they perform
an impressive sight when they get together around a carcass.
They discover dead animals within second from their watchtowers in treetops or where they fly high up under the sky.
One report says that a gepard once killed a gazelle. After only 5 minutes there were about
50 voltures sitting by, waiting to have dinner served.

The 6 most common vultures of Africa are:
Rüppell's Griffon Vulture , Gyps rüppili,
White headed Vulture, Trigonoceps occipitalis,
White backed Vulture, Pseudogyps africanus,
Lappet-faced Vulture, Torgos tracheliotus,
Egyptian Vulture, Neophron percnopterus,
Hooded Vulture, Necrosyrtes monachus.

We are looking for pictures for each one. Can you help?

Frantically competitive, a black-backed jackal fights a loosing battle against white-backed vultures
crowding in on a wildebeest's carcass. Absence of wounds suggest that the wildebeest died of anthrax.
Like most predators and carrion eaters, jackals and vultures are less susceptible to the disease
but spread the bacterial spores thorugh wastes and salvia at water holes.
© Photo Des & Jen Bartlett, National Geographic,
March 1983

The six species of vultures make no question of who's who. When they are going to start a meal, there is a very strict order
to be followed. Lappet-faced Vultures and the white-headed vultures tears the skin and the muscles at first.
Then comes the Rüppell's Griffon Vulture and the white backed vulture to get touch of the inner parts, as soon as
they are available. Finally the remaining is for the egyptian vulture and the hooded vulture to eat, and everybody is satisfied.

ARKive video - White-headed vulture - overview
White-headed vulture, Trigonoceps occipitalis - overview
BBC Natural History Unit

The Rüppell's Griffon Vultureer is the largest, with a wingspan of 2.40 m, and a weight of up to 9 kilos. Next is the
white-backed vulture with its 8 kilos and a wingspan of 2.25m. The egyptian and the hooded vultures are the smallest,
and weigh about 2 kilos. Their wingspans are about 1.70m, which to me seems more than enough for a bird....
The hooded vultureis the most wellknown, as it most oftenly keep close to people - there is, of course, also the rubbish
and bargage.
(Or am I wrong?)

White-headed Vulture (Trigonoceps occipitalis)
© Luc Viatour

Over a zebra's remains, a spotted hyena shows dominance with erect tail and ears,
upringt stance, and extended neck, saying: 'Don't tell me who's the boss!'
© Photo Des & Jen Bartlett, National Geographic, March 1983

Spotted hyena, Crocuta crocuta

Spotted hyena pups (Crocuta crocuta)i playing outside their hole..
Photo:© Scotch Macaskill.

If one was to range the animal after how impressing and fascinating they were, then the Lion will be the one you are
thinking of first, at least when it comes to African animals. At the bottom of that list will be the hyena.
It is by no means a pretty creature with its heavy way to walk.

ARKive video - Spotted hyaenas hunting and eating male topi

Spotted hyaenas, Crocuta crocuta, hunting and eating male topi
BBC Natural History Unit

However, as is the fact for quite a lot of different animals, so humans have been wrong about its behavior. It has been,
and is still widely 'known', that a hyena diets mainly on carcasses, and only seldom goes hunting. That because books on
zoology and african wildlife for many years have said so. Even the schoolbooks. Now recent scientifics has shown that in
eight of ten cases, a hyena eats what it has killed for itself. And why not? Fresh meat ought to be the best.

Hyena. Masai Mara NP, Kenya
© Craig Hayslip, 1997

During daytime a hyena often hunts alone or in pairs, but during the night joins into large flocks up to 30 animals at once.
Then almost no other animals can feel safe.

Yellow mongooses at times share burrow systems with ground squirrels.
Returning from an overnight hunt, a father is gtreted by three youngsters at their burrow entrance.

© Photo Des & Jen Bartlett, National Geographic,
March 1983

Yellow mungo, Cynictis penicillata

The mungo-family (Herpestidae) belongs to the predators, and you find them mainly in African, but one spcie has also
spread into the Souther Europe and Asia. More species live on Madagaskar. All together there are about
20 species and 36 subspecies

ARKive video - Meerkat - overview
Meerkat, Suricata suricatta - overview
BBC Natural History Unit

Mungoes are not among the larger animals. They are only from 25 to 75cm long, and their weight ranges between 1 and 6
kilos. They feed on varios smaller mammals, reptiles, birds, crabs, fish, insects and eggs. Some of them even eat fruits and
berries and different vegetables. Some live happily together in large flocks up to about 50 animals, whereas others live
lonely except when they dates. The yellow mungo some times share in the same densystem as the earth squirrel.

A colony of ground squirrels, Spermophilus, watching as a Jackal passes by.
© Photo Des & Jen Bartlett, National Geographic, March 1983

The mungos are known for their courage and ability to fight snakes. They are not immune to poisonous snakes, but their
rapid reflections save them from their bites.

© Photo Des & Jen Bartlett, National Geographic, March 1983

Sebra, Equus

The word zebra has been synonymous to 'black and white'. Quite a few black- and whitestriped animals has the
word 'zebra' as part of their name.

Is the Zebra just a black and white striped horse? No, a zebra is a zebra. Well, not exactly though. There are three different species of zebraes. They differ in the size and form of their body, and their behavior. Here in the Somalian area they have
a specie that is capabable of living where it is both dry and hot. That is the Grevyzebra. Some people say that this one
looks more like a monkey than a horse. But remember - it is still al zebra!

The Plains Zebra is to be found on the savannas of East- and South Africa. They are smaller than their relative, the Grevyzebra, and therefore looks more like a horse. But yet, they are also zebraes. The Grantzebra from the norther part
of Kenya is on of the most welknown of these zebraes.


In the Botswanian Coat of Arms there are two zebraes. In their flag you find the black and white again. There it is meant to symbolize the colored and the non-colored part of the inhabitants and their union. The black- and whitestipes on the zebra, symbolizes the wish of the people in Botswana to join and work together for a better country.

© Photo Des & Jen Bartlett, National Geographic, March 1983

The three zebra-species are:
Plains zebra, Equus quagga (East-Africa, Angola, Namibia)
Grevyzebra, Equus grevyi (Somalia-area)
Mountain zebra, Equus zebra (South-Africa)

© Photo Des & Jen Bartlett, National Geographic, March 1983

The stripes- what are they good for? Many people have been wondering for hundreds of years. Now a days the theory goes
that the stripes make up a good camouflage towards the horizon, when the zebraes are speeding up, away from predators.
The vibrating air and hot on the african savanna also make the stripes dissapear when at a certain distance.

ARKive video - Grevy's zebra courtship - male chasing females
Grevy's zebra, Equus grevyi, courtship - male chasing females
BBC Natural History Unit

(Pictures from National Geographic, March 1983, are for illustration, shot in Namibia, Africa)

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