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southern africa: eco info: animals

lions Think safari wildlife and think Southern Africa. The region has over 20 state-sponsored reserve areas. South Africa alone ranks third in the world for bio-diversity and 24th for native species. Though few free-roaming animal populations remain (except baboons and some antelope species) in South Africa, the country's Kruger National Park hosts the world's largest concentration of elephants, lions, zebras, giraffe, rhinos and more.

Impala (Aepyceros melampus):

Impala This mid-size deer is the most abundant and widespread antelope in South Africa. It stands about 3 ft. to the shoulder and is distinguished by its beautiful rich, reddish coat, slender legs and broad, vertical black stripes on the back of both hind legs. Impala occur throughout southeastern Africa from Kenya to South Africa, and generally make their homes in lightly wooded savanna.

Springbok (Antidorcas marsupialis ):

Springbok As its name implies, springbok can spring several feet into the air when frightened by potential killers such as a leopard or lion. Not much over 3 ft. tall, they are mainly dry plains antelope and roam wherever the supply of edible grasses and water take them. Both sexes have horns and they can be identified by the broad, dark brown stripe that runs horizontally along their rib cage, separating their white bellies from their tan backs.

Baboon (Papio Cynocephalus):

Baboon Another arid climate dweller, baboons are clever, aggressive foragers who eat everything from leaves to fish. There are several types of baboons living throughout sub-Saharan Africa. In South Africa, baboons wander mountain areas in troops ranging in size from eight to 200. They are tough and given to bad tempers, picking inter-troop fights or even bonking the head of an overly inquisitive impala with their fists if the mood strikes.
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White Rhino (Ceratotherium simum):

White Rhino The white rhino is in fact not white, but a dark gray. Its misleading name is based on a bad translation of the Afrikaans word " weit" meaning "wide." Ninety percent of Africa's 10,500 white rhinos live in southern Africa. They are the second largest land animal after elephants. White rhinos weigh in at 4,000 - 6,000 lbs. -- twice the size of the black rhinos of north-central Africa -- and live from 40 to 60 years. While all rhino populations are badly threatened by horn-seeking poachers, the white rhino is the most secure of all African rhinos.

Burchell's Zebra (Equus burchellii):

Burchell's Zebra No African safari is complete without a zebra. Burchell's zebra is one of three species that can be found throughout sub-Saharan Africa. Most zebra are restricted to game reserves due to shrinking habitat. Zoologists are still debating the significance of the stripes that vary from zebra to zebra. One theory suggests that the stripes make it harder for predators to isolate one zebra from a group. Zebra primarily survive on grasses, although they may occasionally nibble on shrubs and herbs. They live in polygamous family units that are part of a larger extended clan or herd.
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Impala and Zebra Photo Credit/Copyright: Darren New

Springbok and Rhino Photo Credit/Copyright: Martin Kramer, 1997

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