Fauna of Africa


Fauna of Africa

Fauna of Africa, in its broader sense, is all the animals living on the African continent and its surrounding seas and islands. The more characteristic African fauna is found in the Afrotropical ecoregion - formerly called Ethiopian (the Sub-Saharan Africa). [R.W.Crosskey, G.B.White, The Afrotropical Region. A recommended term in zoogeography, Journal of Natural History, Vol.11, 5 (1977)] Lying almost entirely within the tropics, and equally to north and south of the equator creates favourable conditions for rich wildlife.

Origins of African fauna

Whereas the earliest traces of life in fossil record of Africa date to the earliest times, [F. Westall et al., Implications of a 3.472-3.333Gyr-old subaerial microbial mat from the Barberton greenstone belt, South Africa for the UV environmental conditions on the early Earth, Philosophical Transactions of The Royal Society B, Vol.361, No.1474 (2006)] the formation of African fauna as we know it today, began with the splitting up of the Gondwana supercontinent in the mid-Mesozoic era. After that, four to six faunal assemblages, the so called African Faunal Strata (AFSs) can be distinguished. The isolation of Africa was broken intermittently by discontinuous "filter routes" that linked it to some other Gondwanan continents (Madagascar, South America, and perhaps India), but mainly to Laurasia. Interchanges with Gondwana were rare and mainly "out-of-Africa" dispersals, whereas interchanges with Laurasia were numerous and bidirectional, although mainly from Laurasia to Africa. Despite these connections, isolation resulted in remarkable absences, poor diversity, and emergence of endemic taxa in Africa. [E.Gheerbrant, J.-C. Rage,Paleobiogeography of Africa: How distinct from Gondwana and Laurasia?.Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology,Vol 241, 9 Nov. 2006] Madagascar separated from continental Africa during the break-up of Gondwanaland early in the Cretaceous, but was probably connected to the mainland again in the Eocene. [R.McCall, Implications of recent geological investigations of the Mozambique Channel for the mammalian colonization of Madagascar, Proc. R. Soc. Lond. B (1997) 264]

The first Neogene faunal interchange took place in the Middle Miocene (the introduction of Myocricetodontinae, Democricetodontinae, and Dendromurinae). [A. J. Winkler,Neogene paleobiogeography and East African paleoenvironments: contributions from the Tugen Hills rodents and lagomorphs.Journal of Human Evolution, Vol 42, January 2002] A major terrestrial faunal exchange between North Africa and Europe began at about 6.1 Ma, some 0.4 Myr before the beginning of the Messinian salinity crisis [M.Benammi et al.,Magnetostratigraphy and paleontology of Aït Kandoula basin (High Atlas, Morocco) and the African-European late Miocene terrestrial fauna exchanges.Earth and Planetary Science Letters,Vol 145, Dec 1996] (for example introduction of Murinae, immigrants from southern Asia) [A. J. Winkler,Neogene paleobiogeography and East African paleoenvironments: contributions from the Tugen Hills rodents and lagomorphs.Journal of Human Evolution, Vol 42, January 2002]

During the early Tertiary, Africa was covered by a vast evergreen forest inhabited by an endemic forest fauna with many types common to southern Asia. In the Pliocene the climate became dry and most of the forest was destroyed, the forest animals taking refuge in the remaining forest islands. At the same time a broad land-bridge connected Africa with Asia and there was a great invasion of animals of the steppe fauna into Africa. At the beginning of the Pleistocene a moist period set in and much of the forest was renewed while the grassland fauna was divided and isolated, as the forest fauna had previously been. The present forest fauna is therefore of double origin, partly descended from the endemic fauna and partly from steppe forms that adapted themselves to forest life, while the present savanna fauna is similarly explained. The isolation in past times has resulted in the presence of closely related subspecies in widely separated regions [E.Lönnberg,The Development and Distribution of the African Fauna in Connection with and Depending upon Climatic Changes.Arkiv for Zoologi, Band 21 A. No.4.1929. pp. 1-33.] [J.Fjeldsaå and J.C.Lovett,Geographical patterns of old and young species in African forest biota: the significance of specific montane areas as evolutionary centres.Biodiversity and Conservation,Vol 6, No 3 March, 1997] Africa, where humans originated, shows much less evidence of loss in the Pleistocene megafaunal extinction, perhaps because co-evolution of large animals alongside early humans provided enough time for them to develop effective defenses. [Owen-Smith,N.Pleistocene extinctions; the pivotal role of megaherbivores. Paleobiology; July 1987; v. 13; no. 3; p. 351-362] Its situation in the tropics spared it also from Pleistocene glaciations and the climate has not changed much [P. Brinck.The Relations between the South African Fauna and the Terrestrial and Limnic Animal Life of the Southern Cold Temperate Zone.Proc. Royal Soc. of London. Series B, Vol. 152, No. 949 (1960)]

Zoogeography of the African fauna

Africa can zoogeographically be divided into several regions (the following is a simplified division).

Northern Africa

In arid areas of northernmost Africa the fauna includes 129 species of mammals, 133 species of resident birds, and 87 species of reptiles. Large mammals are mainly of Afrotropical and small mammals of Mediterranean kinships. Birds are predominantly Mediterranean, while reptiles are evenly balanced between Mediterranean and tropical taxa. [H.Le Houérou,Biogeography of the arid steppeland north of the Sahara. Journal of Arid Environments Vol 48, 2, June 2001] Towards south the fauna gradually changes to more typical African fauna. The marine biota of the Mediterranean are derived primarily from the Atlantic Ocean, but an invasion of Indian Ocean species has begun via the Suez Canal (see Lessepsian migration).

Atlantic coast

Five different hydroclimatic regions are recognized in the tropical eastern Atlantic: the northern alternance region (Cape Blanc - Cape Verga), the atypical tropical region (Cape Palmas - Benin-Nigeria border), the southern alternance region (Cape Lopez - Cape Frio), all with periodical upwelling of colder water, and two intercalated typical tropical regions with warm water and reduced salinity. The faunal richness in the regions with upwelling is higher than in the typical tropical regions because many benthic species avoid warm and reduced salinity water. Faunistic exchange and affinity are greater between the upwelling zones and the bordering temperate zones. The cold regions are also more similar in faunal composition. Benthic communities in both tropical and temperate eastern Atlantic are quite alike. Species diversity of benthic invertebrates in tropical West Africa is about the same order of magnitude as in Europe and the Mediterranean. Hydroclimatic conditions and absence of coral reef formations do not favour the establishment and thriving of a warm stenohaline and stenotherm fauna in West Africa. [P.Le Lœuf and R.von Cosel. Biodiversity patterns of the marine benthic fauna on the Atlantic coast of tropical Africa in relation to hydroclimatic conditions and paleogeographic events, Acta Oecologica, Vol. 19, Issue 3, May-June 1998, pp.309-321] Mangrove ecosystems exist throughout the West African coast.

Indian Ocean coast

The Indian Ocean coast is part of the Indo-Pacific ecoregion. The continental shelves south of the Red Sea are mostly narrow (15-25 km), and drop off to depths greater than 4000 m in the Indian Ocean, except for the banks and islands associated with Madagascar. The main coastal habitats in this region are the mangroves, sea grass beds and coral reefs (the East African coral reef bioregion stretches from Somalia to South Africa, and is interspersed with soft sediment habitats formed by the large rivers flowing into the ocean; it is threatened by human induced degradation but also invasions of "Acanthaster planci" [Obura,D. et al., Status of the coral reefs in East Africa 2004, In: STATUS OF CORAL REEFS OF THE WORLD: 2004 Vol.1 (Ed. C.Wilkinson, GCRMN)] ).

Overall there live a minimum of 10 627 shallow water macrofaunal species, of which 10-20% are endemic. Species diversity in the region tends to fall from east to west and with increasing latitude both north and south of the equator. [A. Hillary et al. (Eds.)Proceedings of the World Heritage Marine Biodiversity Workshop, published in 2003 by UNESCO World Heritage Centre] Some of the richest fishing areas of the world are located near the Somali coast where the summer monsoon causes very intense seasonal coastal upwelling (as the upwelling stops, production falls again). [P.Castro and M.E.Huber, Marine Biology, McGraw-Hill (2003)]

avannahs

Savannahs are grasslands characterised by seasonal water availability, with the majority of rainfall being confined to one season of the year. They provide habitats for a wide array of animals, many of which foster the vegetation through grazing, pollinating, or seed dispersal. Some areas of savanna are managed now to maintain the grazing mammals, such as the ungulates. The Big Five game animals, zebras, hyenas, wildebeest, cheetahs, gazelles and warthog are some examples of the grassland mammals. The Sahel region was formerly home to large populations of grazing mammals too (including the Scimitar-horned Oryx, Dama Gazelle, Dorcas Gazelle and Red-fronted Gazelle, and Bubal Hartebeest, along with large predators like the African Wild Dog, Cheetah, and Lion), but the larger species have been greatly reduced in number by over-hunting and competition with livestock. The Great Rift Valley with its lakes and mountains goes through the plains area of East Africa, and has especially diverse animal life.

Forests

The African equatorial rainforests are home to half of the continent's animal species. The rainforests of Central Africa's Congo Basin are second largest in the world after the Amazon. Africa's deforestation, road construction and slash-and-burn farming have already wiped out roughly 90 percent of the West Africa's rainforests, [ [http://www.pbs.org/wnet/africa/explore/rainforest/rainforest_overview_lo.html AFRICA - Explore the Regions - Rainforest ] ] whereas the 'bushmeat' hunting has diminished the numbers of animals. These forests are home to numerous animals found nowhere else (e.g. okapi, bongos, gorillas, water chevrotain, pottos). Of special importance as a well-known biodiversity hotspot are the forests of eastern Madagascar (lemurs, aye-aye, tenrecs, fossa, see also - Malagasy fauna).

Deserts

There are three main arid regions in Africa - the Sahara, northeastern Africa (home to African Wild Ass, Nubian Ibex) and the South-African Kalahari and Namib deserts. The latter two are inhabited by many rare animals (African wild dog, Aardwolf, Black-footed cat, Meerkat).

The invertebrates

There are large gaps in our knowledge of African invertebrates. East Africa has a rich coral fauna [M.H.Schleyer&L.Celliers. Modelling reef zonation in the Greater St Lucia Wetland Park, South Africa. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science,Vol. 63, May 2005 ] with about 400 known species. More than 400 species of Echinoderms and 500 species of Bryozoa live there too, [Richmond, M. D., 2001. The marine biodiversity of the western Indian Ocean and its biogeography. How much do we know? In: Marine Science Development in Eastern Africa. Proc. of the 20th Anniversary Conference on Marine Science in Tanzania. Institute of Marine Sciences/WIOMSA, Zanzibar] as well as one Cubozoan species ("Carybdea alata"). Of Nematodes, the "Onchocerca volvulus", "Necator americanus", "Wuchereria bancrofti" and "Dracunculus medinensis" are human parasites. Some of important plant-parasitic nematodes of crops include "Meloidogyne", "Pratylenchus", "Hirschmanniella", "Radopholus", "Scutellonema" and "Helicotylenchus". [M.Luc et al (Esd.), Plant Parasitic Nematodes in Subtropical and Tropical Agriculture. CABI Publishing, 2005] [Fourie, H et al. Plant-parasitic nematodes in field crops in South Africa. 6. Soybean. Nematology, vol. 3, 5 (2001)] [J. Bridge, Nematodes of Bananas and Plantains in Africa, ISHS Acta Horticulturae 540] [Marais, M., Swart, A. Plant nematodes in South Africa. 6. Tzaneen area, Limpopo Province, African Plant Protection, 2003 (Vol. 9) (No. 2) 99-107] Of the few Onychophorans "Peripatus", "Peripatopsis" and "Opisthopatus" live in Africa. [R.C.Brusca and G.J.Brusca, Invertebrates, Sinauer Associates; 2 ed.(2003)] ).156 tardigrade species have been found, [A.Jörgensen, Graphical Presentation of the African Tardigrade FaunaUsing GIS with the Description of Isohypsibius malawiensis sp. n. (Eutardigrada: Hypsibiidae) from Lake Malawi, Zoologischer Anzeiger - A Journal of Comparative Zoology Vol 240,2001] and about 8000 species of arachnids. The African millipede "Archispirostreptus gigas" is one of the largest in the world. 20 genera of freshwater crabs are present. [N.Cumberlidge et al., A revision of the higher taxonomy of the Afrotropical freshwater crabs (Decapoda: Brachyura) with a discussion of their biogeography, Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2008, 93]

The soil animal communities tropical Africa are poorly known. A few ecological studies have been undertaken on macrofauna, mainly in West Africa. [Okwakol,M.J.N. & Sekamatte,M.B. Soil macrofauna research in ecosystems in Uganda. African Journal of Ecology Vol.45 Suppl.2(2007)] .

Insects

Approximately 100 000 species of insects have been described from sub-Saharan Africa, but there are very few overviews of the fauna as a whole [S.E. Miller, & L.M.Rogo, Challenges and opportunities in understanding and utilisation of African insect diversity. Cimbebasia 17: 197-218, 2001] (it has been estimated that the African insects make up about 10-20% of the global insect species richness, [K.J.Gaston and E.Hudson, Regional patterns of diversity and estimates of global insect species richness. Biodiversity and Conservation 3,493-500 (1994)] and about 15% of new species descriptions come from Afrotropics [Gaston, K. J. 1991. The magnitude of global insect species richness. Conserv. Biol. 5:283-296.] ). The only endemic African insect order is Mantophasmatodea.

About 875 African species of dragonflies have been recorded. [ [http://www.africa-dragonfly.net/ Africa Dragonfly ] ] The migratory locust and desert locust have been serious threats to African economies and human welfare.Africa has the biggest number of termite genera of all continents [Eggleton, P., P. H. Williams, and K. J. Gaston. 1994. Explaining global termite diversity: productivity or history? Biodiversity and Conservation, 3: 318-330] , and over 1,000 termite species.Of Diptera, the number of described African species is about 17,000 [Crosskey,R.W.(Ed.)Catalogue of the Diptera of the Afrotropical Region. London, British Museum, 1980] . Natalimyzidae, a new family of acalyptrate flies has been recently described from South Africa [Barraclough, D. A. & McAlpine, D. K. Natalimyzidae, a new African family of acalyptrate flies (Diptera: Schizophora: Sciomyzoidea). African Invertebrates 47: 117-134. [http://www.africaninvertebrates.org.za/BarrMcAlp2006_132.aspx] ] . "Anopheles gambiae", "Aedes aegypti" and Tsetse fly are important vectors of diseases. ns are known from Africa.There live also 3,607 species of butterflies, being the best known group of insects. [Ackery, P. R. et al, (eds.) 1995. Carcasson’s African Butterflies. An Annotated Catalogue of the Papilionoidea and Hesperioidea of the Afrotropical Region. CSIRO, Canberra] The caterpillars of mopani moth are part of the South African cuisine. Among the numerous species of African beetles are the famous sacred scarab dung beetle and enormous Goliath beetles.

Fish

Africa is the richest continent of freshwater fish, with about 3000 species. [N.Myers, The Rich Diversity of Biodiversity Issues. (In:Biodiversity II, ed. E.O.Wilson et al., National Academy Press, 1997)] The East African Great Lakes (Victoria, Malawi, and Tanganyika) are the center of biodiversity of many fish, especially cichlids (they harbor more than two-thirds of the estimated 2000 species in the family). [I.P.Farias et al,Total Evidence: Molecules, Morphology, and the Phylogenetics of Cichlid Fishe Journal of Experimental Zoology (Mol Dev Evol) 288:76–92 (2000)] The West African coastal rivers region covers only a fraction of West Africa, but harbours 322 of West African’s fish species, with 247 restricted to this area and 129 restricted even to smaller ranges. The central rivers fauna comprises 194 fish species, with 119 endemics and only 33 restricted to small areas. [T.Moritz and K. E. Linsenmair, West African fish diversity – distribution patterns and possible conclusions for conservation strategies (in African Biodiversity: Molecules, Organisms, Ecosystems, Springer, 2001)] The marine diversity is greatest near the Indian Ocean shore with about 2000 species. [Richmond, M.D. (ed.) 1997. A Guide to the Seashores of Eastern Africa and the Western Indian Ocean Islands. Sida/Department for Research Cooperation, SAREC]

Characteristic to African fauna are Perciformes ("Lates", tilapias, Dichistiidae, Anabantidae, Mudskippers, "Parachanna", "Acentrogobius", "Croilia", "Glossogobius", "Oligolepis", "Redigobius", "Stenogobius" and others), some lungfishes ("Protopterus"), many Characiformes (Distichodontidae, Hepsetidae, Citharinidae, Alestiidae), Siluriformes (Amphiliidae, Anchariidae, Ariidae, Austroglanididae, Clariidae, Claroteidae, Malapteruridae, Mochokidae, Schilbeidae), Osmeriformes (Galaxiidae), Cyprinodontiformes (Aplocheilidae, Poeciliidae) and Cypriniformes ("Labeobarbus", "Pseudobarbus", "Tanakia" and others).

Amphibians

Endemic to Africa are the families Arthroleptidae, Astylosternidae, Heleophrynidae, Hemisotidae, Hyperoliidae, Petropedetidae, Mantellidae. Also widespread are Bufonidae ("Bufo", "Churamiti", "Capensibufo", "Mertensophryne","Nectophryne","Nectophrynoides","Schismaderma", "Stephopaedes", "Werneria", "Wolterstorffina"), Microhylidae ("Breviceps", "Callulina", "Probreviceps",Cophylinae,"Dyscophus", Melanobatrachinae, Scaphiophryninae), Rhacophoridae ("Chiromantis"), Ranidae ("Afrana", "Amietia", "Amnirana", "Aubria", "Conraua", "Hildebrandtia", "Lanzarana", "Ptychadena", "Strongylopus", "Tomopterna") and Pipidae ("Hymenochirus", "Pseudhymenochirus", "Xenopus").The 2002–2004 ‘Global Amphibian Assessment’ by IUCN, Conservation International and NatureServe revealed that for only about 50% of the Afrotropical amphibians, there is least concern about their conservation status; approximately 130 species are endangered, about one-fourth of which are at a critical stage. Almost all of the amphibians of Madagascar (238 species [Andreone F, Carpenter AI, Cox N, du Preez L, Freeman K, et al. (2008) The Challenge of Conserving Amphibian Megadiversity in Madagascar. PLoS Biol 6(5): e118] ) are endemic to that region. [ [http://www.globalamphibians.org/ Global Amphibian Assessment ] ] . The west African Goliath frog is the largest frog species in the world.

Reptiles

The most species rich place of the chameleons is Madagascar. Snakes found in Africa include atractaspidids, elapids (cobras, "Aspidelaps", "Boulengerina", "Dendroaspis", "Elapsoidea", "Hemachatus", "Homoroselaps" and "Paranaja"), causines, viperines ("Adenorhinos", "Atheris", "Bitis", "Cerastes", "Echis", "Macrovipera", "Montatheris", "Proatheris", "Vipera"), colubrids ("Dendrolycus", "Dispholidus", "Gonionotophis", "Grayia", "Hormonotus", "Lamprophis", "Psammophis", "Leioheterodon", "Madagascarophis", "Poecilopholis", "Dasypeltis" etc.), the pythonids ("Python"), typhlopids ("Typhlops") and leptotyphlopids ("Leptotyphlops", "Rhinoleptus").

Of the lizards, many species of geckos (Day geckos, "Afroedura", "Afrogecko", "Colopus", "Pachydactylus", "Hemidactylus", "Narudasia", "Paroedura", "Pristurus", "Quedenfeldtia", "Rhoptropus", "Tropiocolotes", "Uroplatus"), Cordylidae, as well as Lacertidae ("Nucras", "Lacerta", "Mesalina", "Acanthodactylus", "Pedioplanis"), Agamas, skinks and some Monitor lizards are common. There are 12 genera and 58 species of African Amphisbaenians (e.g. "Chirindia", "Zygaspis", "Monopeltis", "Dalophia"). [C.Gans, D.Kraklau, Studies on Amphisbaenians (Reptilia) 8. Two Genera of Small Species from East Africa 8. Two Genera of Small Species from East AfricaAm. Mus. Novitates 2944, 1989]

Several genera of tortoises ("Kinixys", "Pelusios", "Psammobates", "Geochelone", "Homopus", "Chersina"), turtles (Pelomedusidae, "Cyclanorbis", "Cycloderma", "Erymnochelys"), and three species of crocodiles (the Nile crocodile, Slender-snouted Crocodile and Dwarf Crocodile) are also present.

Birds

s). [ [http://www.africanbirdclub.org/resources/checklist.html ABC Checklist of African Birds ] ] Some 114 of them are threatened species. [De Klerk, H.M, Gaps in the protected area network for threatened Afrotropical birds. Biological Conservation 117 (2004) 529–537] The Afrotropic has various endemic bird families, including ostriches (Struthionidae), Mesites, sunbirds, Secretary bird (Sagittariidae), guineafowl (Numididae), and mousebirds (Coliidae). Also, several families of passerines are limited to the Afrotropics. These include rock-jumpers (Chaetopidae), Bushshrike (Malaconotidae), and rockfowl (Picathartidae). Other common birds include parrots (Lovebirds, "Poicephalus", "Psittacus"), various cranes (Crowned Cranes, Blue Crane, Wattled Crane), storks (Slaty Egret, Black Heron, Marabous, Abdim's Stork, Shoebill), bustards (Kori Bustard, "Neotis", "Eupodotis", "Lissotis"), sandgrouse ("Pterocles"), Coraciiformes (Bee-eaters, Hornbills, "Ceratogymna"), Phasianids (Francolins, Congo Peafowl, Blue Quail, Harlequin Quail, Stone Partridge, Madagascar Partridge). The woodpeckers and allies include Honeyguides, African barbets, African Piculet, Ground Woodpecker, "Dendropicos" and "Campethera". Trogons are represented by one genus ("Apaloderma"). African Penguin is the only penguin species. Madagascar was once home to the now extinct Elephant Birds.

Africa is home to numerous songbirds (Pipits, Orioles, Antpeckers, Brubrus, Cisticolas, Negrofinches, Olivebacks, Pytilias, Wattle-eyes, Green-backed Twinspot, Crimson-wings, Seedcrackers, Bluebills, Firefinches, Waxbills, Amandavas, Quailfinches, Munias, Weavers, Tit-hylia, "Amadina", "Anthoscopus", "Mirafra", "Hypargos", "Eremomela", "Euschistospiza", "Erythrocercus", "Malimbus", "Pitta", "Quelea", "Uraeginthus", Pied Crow, White-necked Raven, Thick-billed Raven, Cape Crow and others).

Of the 589 species of birds (excluding seabirds) that breed in the Palaearctic (temperate Europe and Asia), 40% spend the winter elsewhere. Of those species that leave for the winter, 98% travel south to Africa. [M.Begon et al., "Ecology - From Individuals to Ecosystems", Wiley-Blackwell (2006) pp.169] See also: Endemic birds of western and central Africa, Endemic birds of southern Africa.

Mammals

There live more than 1100 mammal species in Africa. [A.Anton, M.Anton.Evolving Eden: An Illustrated Guide to the Evolution of the African Large Mammal Fauna, Columbia Univ. Press,2007] Africa has three endemic orders of mammals, the Tubulidentata (aardvarks), Afrosoricida (tenrecs and golden moles), and Macroscelidea (elephant shrews). The current research of mammalian phylogeny has proposed an Afrotheria clade (including the exclusively African orders). [Tabuce, R, et al., Early Tertiary mammals from North Africa reinforce the molecular Afrotheria clade. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, Vol.274, No.1614 (2007)] The East-African plains are well known for their diversity of large mammals.

African Soricomorpha include the Myosoricinae and Crocidurinae subfamilies. Hedgehogs include Desert Hedgehog, "Atelerix" and others. The rodents are represented by Gerbils, Cane rats, Acacia rats, Nesomyidae, Springhare, Mole rats, Dassie Rats, Striped grass mice, Thicket rats, Old World porcupines, Target Rat, Maned Rat, Deomyinae, "Aethomys", "Arvicanthis", "Colomys", "Dasymys", "Dephomys", "Grammomys", "Graphiurus", "Hybomys", "Hylomyscus", "Malacomys", "Mastomys", "Mus", "Mylomys", "Myomyscus", "Oenomys", "Otomys", "Parotomys", "Pelomys", "Praomys", "Rhabdomys", "Stenocephalemys" and many others. African rabbits and hares include Riverine Rabbit, Bunyoro Rabbit, Cape Hare, Scrub Hare, Ethiopian Highland Hare, African Savanna Hare, Abyssinian Hare and several species of "Pronolagus".Among the marine mammals there are several species of dolphins, 2 species of Sirenians and seals (e.g Cape Fur Seal). Of the Carnivores there are 60 species, including the conspicuous hyenas, lions, leopards, cheetahs, serval, as well as the less prominent Bat-eared Fox, African Polecat, African Striped Weasel, Caracal, Honey Badger, Speckle-throated Otter, several mongooses, jackals, civets, etc.The African list of ungulates is longer than in any other continent. The largest number of modern bovids is found in Africa (African Buffalo, Duikers, Impala, Rhebok, Reduncinae, Oryx, Dik-dik, Klipspringer, Oribi, Gerenuk, True gazelles, Hartebeest, Wildebeest, Dibatag, Eland, "Tragelaphus", "Hippotragus", "Neotragus", "Raphicerus", "Damaliscus"). Other even-toed ungulates include Giraffes, Hippopotamuses, Warthogs, Giant forest hogs, Red River Hogs and Bushpigs. Odd-toed ungulates are represented by three species of zebras, African Wild Ass, Black and White Rhinoceros. The biggest African mammals are the African Bush Elephants, but there lives also the smaller African Forest Elephant species.Four species of pangolins can be found in Africa [J.Dorst and P.Dandelot, A Field Guide to the Larger Mammals of Africa, Collins, London 1983]

African fauna contains 64 species of primates. [Colin A.et al., What hope for African primate diversity? African Journal of Ecology 44 (2), 116–133.(2006)] Four species of Great Apes (Hominidae) are endemic to Africa: both species of Gorilla (Western Gorilla, "Gorilla gorilla", and Eastern Gorilla, "Gorilla beringei") and both species of Chimpanzee (Common Chimpanzee, "Pan troglodytes", and Bonobo, "Pan paniscus"). Humans and their ancestors originated in Africa. Other primates include Colobuses, Baboons, Geladas, Vervet monkeys, Guenons, Macaques, Mandrills, Crested mangabeys, White-eyelid mangabeys, Kipunji, Allen's Swamp Monkey, Patas Monkey, Talapoin. Lemurs and Aye-aye are characteristic to Madagascar. See also Lists of mammals of Africa.

ee also

*Afrotropic ecozone
*List of African megafauna
*List of extinct animals of Africa
*Fauna of Asia
*Fauna of Europe
*Fauna of Australia

External links

* [http://www.africaninvertebrates.org.za "African Invertebrates"]

References


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  • Africa — • This name, which is of Phoenician origin, was at first given by the Romans to the territory about the city of Carthage Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006. Africa     Africa      …   Catholic encyclopedia


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