Mammal Guide

Field guide

Vervet Monkey
This appealing primate has a sophisticated array of
vocalisations, with a different alarm call for each of its
principal predators. The presence of an otherwise
phantom-like leopard is very often betrayed by the frantic
chattering of these engaging little animals. …click to read more


Chacma Baboon
The baboon is a gregarious species with an extremely
sophisticated social hierarchy. They are omnivorous and
will eat virtually anything, there are even accounts of
cannibalism. They have extremely strong jaws, and their
canines are longer than those of lions. …click to read more

This strange patron of the night does not possess teeth,
but has a well-developed muscular stomach which grinds
up the ants and termites which form the major part of its
diet. When threatened, the pangolin rolls up into a tight
ball, with the scales of the back and tail protecting its
vulnerable parts, and it has been said that even a bullet
cannot penetrate this suit of armour. …click to read more

The aardvark uses its keen sense of smell to locate
termites and ants under the ground. They use their well
developed claws to expose the insects, and catch them
with their long, sticky tongues. They are extremely adept
diggers, and the speed at which they can tunnel into the
ground to evade predators is truly amazing. …click to read more

A formidable and fearless fighter, the honey-badger is
avoided by all and sundry, including lions. It has a
disconcerting habit of attacking the groin region of any
target unfortunate enough to have incurred its wrath…… to read more

A member of the mongoose family, the civet uses a
secretion from a gland under the tail to scent mark. This
secretion, known as ‘civet’ was formerly used in the
manufacture of perfumes. …click to read more

African Wildcat
The African wildcat looks very much like the domestic
cat, and the two species can and do interbreed freely. As
a result, hybridisation is a very real threat to the survival
of this species in many areas. …click to read more

Dwarf mongoose
The dwarf mongoose has the distinction of being the
smallest carnivore in Africa. Highly social, this animal
moves around in packs of 20 or more. Each individual
takes turns to babysit, or at sentry duty – all for the good
of the group. …click to read more

Banded Mongoose
The banded mongoose is a gregarious species, living in
packs of between five and sixty individuals. They are
active during the day and are therefore vulnerable to birds
of prey. They tackle and kill poisonous snakes
frequently, and being exceptionally fast, they do so with
apparent ease…….click to read more

White-tailed mongoose
This is the largest of the eleven mongoose species found
in southern Africa, and is known to be a good swimmer.
Insects appear to comprise the bulk of their diet, followed
by amphibians, rodents, reptiles and earthworms. … to read more

Black-Backed Jackal
Unlike most mammals, these handsome members of the
dog family form long-term pair-bonds between dog and
bitch and both take part in rearing the offspring. Pups of
the previous litter may remain with the parents and help
raise the next litter. …click to read more

Closely resembling the American lynx, the caracal is
extremely widespread but is seldom seen due to its
secretive and solitary habits. It is known to be extremely
aggressive when cornered. …click to read more

The serval emerges at night to hunt, and its long legs
allow fast movement over short distances and it has
prodigious leaping powers which are used to good effect
pursuing prey through long grass. It is an expert climber
and often seeks refuge from its enemies in trees. … to read more

Spotted Hyaena
Frequently misunderstood and maligned, the spotted
hyaena is in many ways an exceptional animal. Long
thought to be hermaphrodite due to the unusual
development of the female genitalia, the hyaena has a
complex, female-dominated social structure and is as
effective a hunter as the lion. …click to read more

Wild Dog
The territories of these absorbing creatures encompass
huge areas, and although no-longer ruthlessly
persecuted, the majority of existing conservation areas
are simply too small to facilitate a satisfactory increase
in numbers of this highly endangered mammal.
Competition with lions and spotted hyenas has also been
identified as a factor in maintaining very low densities of
the evocative ‘painted wolf’. …click to read more

The cheetah has sacrificed bulk and strength for
exceptional speed and although their success rate is
higher than most other predators, kills are very often
appropriated by opportunistic bystanders, sometimes
even as small as black-backed jackals. …click to read more

When a porcupine is annoyed or attacked, it raises its
crest and quills to present a formidable barrier to the
potential predator. It may also run backwards at a
predator which may be injured by the quills as they tend
to come loose and embed themselves in the
would-be-attacker. …click to read more


Black Rhinoceros
Well-known for its bad temper and terrifying charges, the
black rhino is also a shy, solitary animal. Its numbers
are still few and it only exists in national parks and game
reserves. …click to read more

Frequently the accolades of supreme resilience and
tenacity are bestowed upon what certainly is a
remarkable animal, and to many people the leopard
epitomes everything that is wild and unknown about the
African bush. …click to read more

This is an animal that needs little introduction and
anyone who has observed the awesome power of the
king of beasts will agree that this truly is an appropriate
title. However, true to their elevated status, lions spend
the good majority of their lives doing as little as possible…… to read more

The hippo’s disconcerting habit of stamping out camp
fires is legendary, but this is not the only odd phpect of
their behaviour. Several accounts exist of hippos actively
trying to rescue animals in distress, but in contrast they
have also been observed killing and chewing on an
unfortunate eland calf. …click to read more

Although the trunk of an elephant weighs as much as an
adult buffalo, it is an organ of extreme dexterity and is
capable of performing most of the activities carried out by
the hands of man. …click to read more

The warthog is an animal that evokes a kaleidoscope of
emotions, but despite its rather comical appearance, its
razor sharp tusks make it a formidable adversary, a fact
many an indignant leopard would testify to. …click to read more

Although buffalo in a herd are extremely placid, this
animal has the reputation of being the most dangerous of
the African species to hunt. When wounded they have
been known to circle and stalk their hunters, and a
charging buffalo with head outstretched is difficult to stop
as the heavy boss can deflect or stop even the bullet of a
heavy rifle. …click to read more

Other herbivores

The local Shangaan name for giraffe, ‘ndlulamithi’, means
taller than the trees, and at heights of up to 5.88m, this
very often holds true. They are at their most vulnerable
when drinking and they do so with obvious trepidation…… to read more

The function of the striped coat of zebras has led to
much speculation. It has been suggested that it has
value in camouflage under certain light conditions or that
it tends to confuse a predator as to their direction of
movement or to confuse it at close range when
confronted by a group. None of these explanations are
considered entirely acceptable. …click to read more

Blue Wildebeest
With a theatrical array of noises and strange movements
and said to comprise of bits and pieces of all the other
animals of the savanna, the ungainly wildebeest is an
integral part of the character of the African bush. Where
water and grazing are available all year round the
populations are sedentary, but in seasonally variable
habitats they migrate in their thousands. …click to read more

Common Reedbuck
The reedbuck is not a fast runner and relies heavily on
thick cover to avoid predators. A shrill alarm whistle is
very often the only indication of its presence. …click to read more

In the unforgiving environment of the African savanna, the
attributes of great speed and endurance are certainly of
more value to the rather unfortunate-looking tsessebe
than any of the aesthetic qualities other antelope species
may enjoy. …click to read more

It is evident from their legacy of rock art that the docile
eland held a special place in the culture of the
indigenous San people (Bushmen). The eland is the
largest of the African antelope, and when walking, the
adults produce a characteristic clicking noise from their
knees which can be heard over a considerable distance…….click to read more


Being extremely sensitive to changes in their habitat, the
roan is now rare throughout most of its distributional
range. They are apparently reluctant to share water holes
with other game. …click to read more

The majestic sable is one of only a few antelope species
that effectively use their horns against predators and they
have been known to drive off leopard and deter even lions
and spotted hyaenas. …click to read more

Common Duiker
The name duiker means ‘diver’ and describes the
characteristic behaviour of this small antelope as it glides
through the bush when fleeing from unwanted attention.
Active predominantly during the night, the common
duiker eats a wide range of foods, including nesting
birds, lizards and even small mammals. …click to read more

As with all small antelope, the steenbok is almost
always found singly or in pairs. This non-herding strategy
has developed firstly to minimise competition in order to
meet the high energy requirements of small mammals,
and secondly as a means to avoid detection by
predators. …click to read more

As their name suggests, waterbuck are always found in
close association with water and will even readily take to
crocodile-infested pools and rivers to avoid predators.
They are the first herbivores to suffer during periods of
prolonged drought. …click to read more

The seldom seen bushbuck is something of an enigma.
Although normally shy and elusive, the males are known
to be exceptionally aggressive and there is at least one
case of a bushbuck ram fatally goring a human. They
have a ventriloquel call which confuses predators as to
their whereabouts. …click to read more


The beauty of this graceful antelope is frequently
overlooked as a result of its abundance, and despite
often being referred to as ‘the hamburger of the bush’, the
impala is a creature full of surprises. …click to read more

The long elegant eyelashes, the disproportionally large
pink ears and the spectacular spiralling horns of the male
make the kudu one of Africa’s great showpieces.
Famous for their fence-jumping abilities, they have been
known to clear heights of 3.5m under stress. …click to read more

White Rhinoceros
Shortly after the turn of the century the white rhino
seemed doomed to extinction, but due to the extreme
efforts of several dedicated people, this reminder of our
prehistoric existence is one of conservation’s great
success stories. …click to read more

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