Other East African Mammal Species

 
Whilst I cannot hide the fact that I especially enjoy photographing the iconic big cats other well-known and less well known species add to the rich wildlife experience which is Africa. As with the cats many of these other species are unfortunately at now at serious risk. The Africa we know now is very different to the Africa of only 25 years ago. Growing human populations, over farming and increased tourism are all putting a serious pressure on the dwindling fauna of the region. If you know where to look however there are still superb opportunities to observe and photograph some fascinating and very special mammals.

Some such as the giraffe, zebra, wildebeest or gnu, warthog, hyena, hippo, rhino and baboons are well known from zoos, films and TV programs. Others such as the delightful bat eared fox, the diminutive dikdik and the scrub hare with its massive ears are less well known.

I have tried to separate the species into groups based largely on their habits and to a lesser degree taxonomy. Within each group I have given a brief selection of species that fascinate me and tried to describe some aspects of their lives plus how to capture them as photos.
 
Please click gallery photo below to open each gallery and see more photos.
  
Carnivores – Hunters and opportunists
 
In his poem “In Memoriam” Tennyson used the phrase “Natures red in tooth and claw” to denote the wild nature of his day. Nowhere is this more so than in Africa where many animals, including the big cats, live by killing other animals or by scavenging on the leftovers from kills made by others. The insatiable appetite of these carnivores is itself fed by the lard herds of grazers which typify the African plains.   
   
 
Herbivores
 
The most common herbivore or grazing animal of the region is the strange looking wildebeest or gnu which looks like it has been assembled from spare parts left over from other animals.
 
Other well know species include the giraffe, specially adapted to feed on tall trees and the zebra. In addition there are a wider range of antelopes and other unrelated species such as the wart hog all of which are potential food for the predators.
   
Monkeys
 
There are many different monkey or primate species in East Africa although some such as the chimp and gorilla are now very rare and found only in certain regions.
 
The species you will see most often on safari are the baboons and the monkeys particularly the vervet monkey. Both live in large groups or troops and are very habituated to their other primate cousins, humans, often causing a real nuisance by invading camps and un attended vehicles.
   
Hippos and Rhinos
 
Of these two grazing species one is relatively common and one extremely rare. The rare one, the rhino, is unlucky enough to have a protuberance made of compressed hair on its snout which has supposedly magical properties and will fetch a large sum in the far east. There are in fact two species of rhino in East Africa but only one species of Hippo.
 
Despite their size and seemingly docile manner both animals can be very dangerous. More people are killed each year in Africa by hippos than by lions.