1902 Encyclopedia > Africa > African Animals. Africa - Zoology.

(Part 10)


The following table, compiled from the "synonymic lists of species of mammals" given by Mr Andrew Murray, affords a general view of the distribution of terrestrial mammals in the different parts of Africa, -- the figures denoting the number of species found in each of the division, those in the last column being the number peculiar to Africa.


The order Quadrumana is well represented, more particularly within the tropics, whence they decrease northwards and southwards. The most important members of this family are the anthropoid monkeys, the chimpanzee and gorilla, in Tropical and Western Africa. Baboons and mandrils, with few exceptions, are peculiar to Africa. Only a few species of the genus Macacus, which is East Indian, are found in Africa. The only short-tailed species (Macacus Innuus) is North African, and is also found wild on the opposite coast at the Rock of Gibraltar. In Madagascar the place of the true monkeys is supplied by the peculiar tribe of the true Lemurs or makis. Many species have close affinities with those of Asia; thus the orang-outang of Borneo is represented in Africa by the chimpanzee. The gibbons are entirely wanting.

Of the larger carnivora the bear is almost entirely wanting, and occurs only sparely in the Atlas Mountains in Barbary. The true martens are unknown, but otters occur. Of the Canis family the jackal is characteristic, and roams over the whole of Africa; it differs from the Asiatic species in its paler skin, which approaches the colour of the prevailing deserts. The wolf and fox do not extend beyond the northern margin of Africa. Hyaenas are true African tenants; the stripped hyaena extending from Asia over North Africa, the spotted hyaena over the remainder of the continent; in the southmost part of the continent the brown hyaena is also found, and with it the aardwolf, or earth wolf of the Cape colonists, allied to this genus. Africa is the chief home of the lion, which there remains undisturbed as king over the lower animal creation, though it has been driven inwards from the more settled portions of the coast-land; while in the extreme south-western parts of Asia, to which it is now confined, its power is divided with that of the tiger. The leopard, serval, caracal, chaus, and civet cat (the locality of the true civet being North Africa), are the other principal representatives of the cat tribe. The herpestes or ichneumons have the same distribution as the civets; the species which destroys the eggs of the crocodile is found in Egypt and the North of Africa.

Ungulata (Hoofed Mammalia, Ruminantia, and Pachydermata)

Of wild horses the asinine group is characteristic of Asia, and the hippotigrine of Africa. The quagga, exclusively African, inhabits the most southern parts of the continent, and is scarcely found north of the Orange river, but occurs in great herds, associated with the white-tailed gun; the zebra (Equus Burchellii), or zebra of the plains, is widely distributed over Africa, from the limit of the quagga to Abyssinia and the west coast; the zebra of the mountains (Equus zebra), more completely striped than the rest, is only known in South Africa. The true onager or aboriginal wild as in indigenous to North-East Africa and the island of Socotra. A species inhabiting the high land of Abyssinia is distinct from these. The horse, domesticated in other parts of Africa, excepting the region of forests,, is not found in the eastern intertropical regional; and, for some cause not yet clearly ascertained, it appears to be impossible to acclimatise it there. The single humped camel or dromedary is used over the whole of North Africa, as far south and west as the river Niger and Lake Chad. The Indian buffalo has spread by introduction to North Africa; the Cape buffalo, a species peculiar to Africa reaches as far north as a line from Guinea to Abyssinia; the Bos Brachycerus is a species peculiar to West Africa, from Senegal to the Gaboon. Of sheep, the Ovis Tragelaphus is peculiar to North Africa; the Ibex goat extends into Abyssinia. The family of the antelopes is essentially African, five-sixths of the species composing it being natives of that country, and chiefly of the portion lying south of the Sahara, occurring in dense herds. Lastly, the giraffe, one of the most celebrated and characteristic of African quadrupeds, ranges from the limits of the Cape Colony as far as the Sahara and Nubia.

See also ELEPHANT.


Of Edentata the seven species known to occur in Africa are also peculiar to it. The aardwark (Orycteropus capensis) is essentially burrowing in its habits; and the burrows formed by these animals are the source of frequent danger to the wagons and horses of the Cape colonists.


A genus of moles is met with in South Africa, but is not found in the tropical regions. The Cape or gilded mole, chryso-chlore, is so called from its iridescent glossy fur; two or three species of hedgehog occur in the continent, and Madagascar has a peculiar family resembling these in appearance, but without the power of rolling up into a ball for defense. Bats are numerous in Africa, but few are peculiar to it.


Of Rodents the burrowing kinds prevail. The African species of porcupine are known in the northern and western coast-lands and in South-Eastern Africa. The hyrax extends over Eastern Africa and a portion of the west coast. Hares are only known in the countries north of the Sahara and in the Cape Colony. Among squirrels, those with bristles or spines in their fur are peculiar to the southern regions of the continent.

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