East African Safari Animals - Ungulates

This page features the hoofed mammal species that I've seen and photographed during our various safaris in Tanzania, Kenya and eastern Zambia.

 

My list is reasonably comprehensive for the countries I've visited, although there are a couple of specific species missing, namely Roan and Sable, which are much more difficult to find. Of course there are many other ungulates that I haven't seen, such as Sitatunga, Bongo, Springbok, Nyala, Kob, Lechwe and Oryx for example, but that's simply because they inhabit different areas of Africa.

 

The list on the right (not viewable on mobile) is in a loose taxonomic sequence - it will take you directly to that particular animal thereby avoiding the need to scroll down the page. And, as you move down the page, you'll find a number of 'back to top' buttons on the right hand side that will bring you back to the menu.

 

I've started the list with the Elephant as the species had to be featured somewhere, but it must be noted that it is not an ungulate. Elephants, of which there are three recognised species (two African and the Asian), are placed in their own taxonomic order PROBOSCIDEA. All of the other listed species are true 'hoofed animals', which are either classified as odd-toed ungulates of the order PERISSODACTYLA, or even-toed of the order ARTIODACTYLA. However, whilst the taxonomic Class (Mammalia) and ORDERS of species are obviously important, I'm far more interested in ensuring that I'm correctly naming the animal (with both its common name and its scientific name) and, if it has a different form, with its respective subspecies (ssp.) trinomen

 

There's a small thumbnail photo for each species, alongside which there's a brief note regarding classification (ORDER, family, and subfamily if appropriate), its current IUCN Red List conservation status and, for personal reference, a list of the countries and areas where I've photographed the animal. I've then included a reasonable amount of information to confirm where the species is found and some notes regarding identification, particularly for non-familiar species or similar subspecies. The notes are primarily to assist identification and correct naming of the species I've seen rather than information regarding behaviour.

 

African Savanna Elephant  [Loxodonta africana]

Classification :

PROBOSCIDEA > family : Elephantidae

Red List status :

Vulnerable (VU)

Seen and photographed :-

  • Tanzania (Ruaha, Selous & Katavi)

  • Kenya (Masai Mara & Mara North Conservancy)

  • Zambia (South Luangwa & Lower Zambezi) 

It’s a common misconception that there is only one species of African Elephant when, in fact, there are two - the more familiar Savanna or Bush Elephant, and the less well-known Forest Elephant [Loxodonta cyclotis] from central West Africa. The situation regarding their current conservation status in terms of distribution and numbers is a much publicised, complex and somewhat emotional issue, so I won’t attempt to make further comment other than to note that, somewhat surprisingly, the IUCN still regard Elepahants as ‘vulnerable’ rather than ‘endangered’. I have a separate article about African Elephants.

 

 

Hippopotamus  [Hippopotamus amphibius]

Classification :

ARTIODACTYLA (even-toed ungulates), 

> family : Hippopotamidae

Red List status :

Vulnerable (VU)

The Common Hippopotamus, to give the species its full name, is one of only two extant species in the family Hippopotamidae, the other being the Pygmy Hippopotamus [Choeropsis liberiensis]. Originally found along the Nile and throughout the whole of sub-Saharan Africa, the species today has a very much fragmented and reduced range. Evidence of their declining populations prompted the IUCN to upgrade the species conservation status from ‘least concern’ to ‘vulnerable’ in 2006. Whilst some authorities list up to five defined subspecies based on morphological differences they are not acknowledged by either the IUCN or Kingdon.

 

Seen and photographed :-

  • Tanzania (Ruaha, Selous & Katavi)

  • Kenya (Masai Mara)

  • Zambia (South Luangwa & Lower Zambezi) 

 

Cape Buffalo  [Syncerus caffer, ssp.caffer]

Classification :

ARTIODACTYLA (even-toed ungulates), 

> family : Bovidae (bovids) > subfamily : Bovinae

Red List status :

Least Concern (LC)

Seen and photographed :-

  • Tanzania (Ruaha & Katavi)

  • Kenya (Masai Mara)

  • Zambia (South Luangwa & Lower Zambezi)

The Cape Buffalo [ssp.caffer] is one of four subspecies of the African Buffalo [Syncerus caffer]. It’s the common subspecies that’s encountered when on safari in South and East Africa.  It is the largest of the four subspecies, with the smallest being the African Forest Buffalo [ssp.nanus] from Central and West Africa. The Cape Buffalo, is also known as the Southern Savanna Buffalo and, as this alternative name suggests, it's regarded as a form of savanna buffalo along with the other two subspecies, being the Western Savanna Buffalo [ssp.brachyceros] and the Central Savanna or Sudanic Buffalo [ssp.aequinoctialis]. The African Buffalo is a large bovine that is neither related to the slightly larger Wild Water Buffalo from Asia or an ancestor of domestic cattle. It’s known to have an extremely unpredictable nature, which coupled with its sheer size and continuous bone shield across the top of its head, makes it one of the most dangerous animals in Africa.

 

 

Masai Giraffe  [Giraffa tippelskirchi]

Classification :

ARTIODACTYLA (even-toed ungulates), 

> family : Giraffidae

Red List status :

Vulnerable (VU)

Seen and photographed :-

  • Tanzania (Ruaha & Selous)

  • Kenya (Masai Mara & Mara North Conservancy)

Recent re-classification of the giraffe family confirms that there are now four separate species - the Northern Giraffe, which retains the original scientific name Giraffa camelopardalis with four subspecies (Kordofan, Nubian, West African and Rothschild's), the Southern Giraffe [Giraffe giraffa] with two subspecies (South African and Angolan), the Masai Giraffe [Giraffa tippelskirchi] and the Reticulated Giraffe [Giraffa reticulata]. Consequently, the Masai Giraffe, which was previously regarded as a subspecies of Giraffa camelopardalis, is now considered a species in its own right. Whilst the IUCN duly acknowledge this, they are currently resisting altering the taxonomic status pending acceptance by their Specialist Group (GOSG) who, at present, continue to recognise a single species [Giraffa camelopardalis] with nine subspecies. I’ve followed the new, widely publicised, thinking. The Masai Giraffe, which to confuse matters further, is also known as the Kilimanjaro Giraffe, has no subspecies as the Thornicroft Giraffe (see below) is now simply regarded as a different form. The species is found in central and southern Kenya and in Tanzania. It is often noticeably darker than other giraffe species. Its blotches are large, dark brown and distinctively vine leaf-shaped with jagged edges, and separated by irregular, creamy brown lines. The giraffe family were categorised 'threatened species' in 2016 when they were listed as 'vulnerable' on the IUCN Red List.

 

 

Thornicroft Giraffe  [Giraffa tippelskirchi]

Classification :

ARTIODACTYLA (even-toed ungulates), 

> family : Giraffidae

Red List status :

Vulnerable (VU)

Seen and photographed :-

  • Zambia (South Luangwa)

The Thornicroft Giraffe [formerly Giraffa camelopardalis, ssp.thornicrofti], also known as the Rhodesian or Luangwa Giraffe, is now regarded as a different localised form or conspecific ecotype of the Masai Giraffe [Giraffa tippelskirchi] rather than a defined subspecies as originally thought. Its range is restricted to the Luangwa Valley in Zambia with no more than 550 animals remaining in the wild and with none in captivity. The most noticeable difference to the common Masai Giraffe is that its decorative leg spots do not extend below the knee.

 

 

Grant's Zebra  [Equus quagga, ssp.boehmi]

Classification :

PERISSODACTYLA (odd-toed ungulates), 

> family : Equidae (equines)

Red List status :

Near Threatened (NT)

Seen and photographed :-

  • Tanzania (Ruaha & Katavi)

  • Kenya (Masai Mara)

There are three different species of zebra - Plains [Equus quagga], Mountain [Equua zebra] and Grévy's [Equus grevyi]. The Plains, or Common Zebra as it's also known, has five primary subspecies - Burchell's, Grant's, Maneless, Chapman's and Crawshay's.

 

The Grant’s Zebra, generally regarded as the standard zebra form of the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem, is the smallest of the five subspecies of the common Plains Zebra. It is found in southern Ethiopia and Somalia, southwest Kenya and east of the Rift Valley, then down into northern and central Tanzania, Zambia west of the Luangwa River and into certain areas of DR Congo. This northern East African subspecies is vertically striped in front, horizontally on the back legs, and diagonally on the rump and hind flanks. Shadow stripes are absent or only poorly expressed. The stripes, as well as the inner-spaces, are broad and well defined.

 
 

Classification :

PERISSODACTYLA (odd-toed ungulates), 

> family : Equidae (equines)

Red List status :

Near Threatened (NT)

Seen and photographed :-

  • Tanzania (Selous)

  • Zambia (South Luangwa)

The Crawshay’s Zebra is a localised southern East African subspecies of the common Plains Zebra that occurs only in southeastern Tanzania, Zambia east of the Luangwa River, Malawi and northern Mozambique. This particular subspecies has narrower stripes when compared with the other forms of the Plains Zebra.

 

 

Nyassa Wildebeest  [Connochaetes taurinus, ssp.johnstoni]

Classification :

ARTIODACTYLA (even-toed ungulates), 

> family : Bovidae (bovids) > subfamily : Alcelaphinae

Red List status :

Least Concern (LC)

Seen and photographed :-

  • Tanzania (Selous)

There are two distinct species of wildebeest - the Blue Wildebeest [Connochaetes taurinus] and the Black Wildebeest [Connochaetes gnou]. The Blue Wildebeest has five subspecies - the nominate Brindled Gnu, Eastern White-bearded, Western White-bearded, Nyassa and Cookson's. 

 

The Nyassa Wildebeest subspecies, also known as the Johnston’s Wildebeest, is only found in east-central Tanzania, and north of the Zambezi River in Mozambique.

 

Crawshay's Zebra  [Equus quagga, ssp.crawshaii]

[Connochaetes taurinus, ssp.mearnsi]

 

Western White-bearded Wildebeest

Classification :

ARTIODACTYLA (even-toed ungulates), 

> family : Bovidae (bovids) > subfamily : Alcelaphinae

Red List status :

Least Concern (LC)

Seen and photographed :-

  • Kenya (Masai Mara)

The Western White-bearded Wildebeest is the darkest of the five Blue Wildebeest subspecies. This is the wildebeest of the Serengeti ecosystem. It inhabits northern Tanzania and southern Kenya west of the Rift Valley.

 

Classification :

ARTIODACTYLA (even-toed ungulates), 

> family : Bovidae (bovids) > subfamily : Alcelaphinae

Red List status :

Least Concern (LC)

Seen and photographed :-

  • Zambia (South Luangwa)

The Cookson’s Wildebeest is another defined subspecies and lighter coloured local variant of the common Blue Wildebeest. Its range is generally restricted to the Luangwa Valley in Zambia although some animals may venture onto the adjacent plateau region of neighbouring Malawi.

 

 

Cookson's Wildebeest  [Connochaetes taurinus, ssp.cooksoni]

 

Coke's Hartebeest (Kongoni)  [Alcelaphus buselaphus, ssp.cokii]

Classification :

ARTIODACTYLA (even-toed ungulates), 

> family : Bovidae (bovids) > subfamily : Alcelaphinae

Red List status :

Least Concern (LC)

Seen and photographed :-

  • Kenya (Masai Mara)

Whilst the common English name for this particular animal is the Coke’s Hartebeest, its official subspecies name is the Kongoni. It’s one of eight defined subspecies of hartebeest. It used to occur widely throughout northern Tanzania and southern Kenya, but much of that former range has been lost, such that it is now only seen in the Serengeti and Tarangire National Parks in Tanzania, and in Tsavo and the Mara in Kenya. Horn size and general colouration vary considerably through the species' full range, with ssp.cokii having perhaps the smallest horns of the eight subspecies, and an intermediate tan colour compared with the other forms, which vary from the reddy dark brown of the Ethiopian form [Korkay, ssp.swaynei] to a much lighter brown in the western variety [Kanki, ssp.major]. The other subspecies that's found in East Africa is the Nkonzi, more commonly known as the Lichtenstein's Hartebeest [ssp.lichtensteinii].

 

 

Topi (Nyamera)  [Damaliscus lunatus, ssp.jimela]

Classification :

ARTIODACTYLA (even-toed ungulates), 

> family : Bovidae (bovids) > subfamily : Alcelaphinae

Red List status :

Vulnerable (VU)

Seen and photographed :-

  • Tanzania (Katavi)

  • Kenya (Masai Mara & Mara North Conservancy)

It's not unusual for people to think that the Topi is a distinct species in its own right whereas, in fact, it's one of six recognised subspecies of the Common Tsessebe [Damaliscus lunatus], which are the nominate form Tsessebe or Sassaby, Korrigum, Tiang, Topi or Nyamera, Bangweulu Tsessebe and the Coastal Topi. 

 

The Topi only occurs in southwest Kenya, northern and western Tanzania, east and southwest Uganda and northeast Rwanda. Topi are a very sociable and fast antelope species that in many ways resemble the appearance of hartebeest except that they’re much darker in colour and have softer-curved horns. They live in seasonally flooded grassland areas where they follow receding waters in the dry season, moving to slightly higher ground when the rains come.

 

 

East African Eland  [Taurotagus oryx, ssp.pattersoni]

Classification :

ARTIODACTYLA (even-toed ungulates), 

> family : Bovidae (bovids) > subfamily : Bovinae

Red List status :

Least Concern (LC)

Seen and photographed :-

  • Tanzania (Ruaha & Selous)

  • Kenya (Masai Mara & Mara North Conservancy)

The East African Eland, or Patterson’s Eland as it’s occasionally called, is one of three defined subspecies of the Common Eland [Taurotagus oryx]; the other two subspecies being the nominate Cape Eland [ssp.oryx] found in the south and southwest, and the Livingston’s Eland [ssp.livingstonii], which inhabits the central woodlands of Zambia. There are colour and stripe pattern variations between these different forms, which Kingdon describes as being tawny on the Cape variety with adults having loose stripes, brown with up to twelve stripes on the Livingston’s, and with the East African subspecies being rufous tinged and again having up to twelve stripes. Whilst normally categorised as Taurotragus along with the Giant Eland [Taurotragus derbianus] the species is sometimes considered part of the genus Tragelaphus. Another anomaly that may be encountered is the subspecies scientific name being spelt pattersonianus rather than pattersoni.

 

Classification :

ARTIODACTYLA (even-toed ungulates), 

> family : Bovidae (bovids) > subfamily : Bovinae

Red List status :

Least Concern (LC)

Seen and photographed :-

  • Tanzania (Ruaha & Selous)

  • Zambia (South Luangwa & Lower Zambezi)

The Greater Kudu is another species whose range has shrunk over the years due to habitat loss. It used to occur over much of eastern and southern Africa, from Chad nearly to the Red Sea, then all the way south down to the eastern Cape, and then across into Namibia and  back north to mid-Angola. Whilst its former range has diminished, particularly in the northern areas where it is now very sparsely distributed from northern Tanzania, it’s regarded as well represented in the more southern protected areas. The Greater Kudu’s main populations are now in the various parks and reserves namely, but certainly not limited to, Ruaha and Selous in Tanzania, the Luangwa Valley and Kafue in Zambia, Etosha in Namibia, Morembi and Chobe in Botswana, Mana Pools in Zimbabwe and Kruger in South Africa. They are one of the largest antelope species with large males (bulls) weighing up to 300kgs or so. They can reach up to 160cm high at the shoulder and carry large spiral horns. The females (cows) are a fair bit smaller and are hornless. The males also have a tesselated dewlap or beard, which the females lack. The colour of their coat varies from brown/grey to reddish-brown with 4-12 pale stripes. 

 

 

Greater Kudu  [Tragelaphus strepsiceros]

 

 

Lesser Kudu  [Tragelaphus imberbis]

Classification :

ARTIODACTYLA (even-toed ungulates), 

> family : Bovidae (bovids) > subfamily : Bovinae

Near Threatened (NT)

Red List status :

Seen and photographed :-

  • Tanzania (Ruaha)

The Lesser Kudu is native to parts of Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya, Tanzania, South Sudan and Uganda. Whilst it’s widespread across this range it is only patchily distributed and with a decreasing trend in population, such that it is categorised as a ’near threatened’ species. The Lesser Kudu is considerably smaller than the Greater Kudu with males only reaching about 105cm at the shoulder compared with the 160cm or so achieved by its bigger cousin. The females are notably smaller. Both females and immature animals are bright russet in colour with 11-15 pale vertical stripes. They could be mistaken for Nyala. Males become yellowish grey or darker after the age of two years. The males have spiralled horns that can grow to 60cm or more. The species is very shy, constantly alert, and has a preference for thick cover where its coat provides excellent camouflaged.

 

Bushbuck or Imbabala  [Tragelaphus sylvaticus]

Classification :

ARTIODACTYLA (even-toed ungulates), 

> family : Bovidae (bovids) > subfamily : Bovinae

Red List status :

Least Concern (LC)

Seen and photographed :-

  • Tanzania (Ruaha & Katavi)

  • Zambia (South Luangwa)

Whilst the Bushbuck has been traditionally regarded as a single species [Tragelaphus scriptus] with numerous subspecies, it's recently been argued that there are in fact two divergent lineages, one in the north and west, and another in the south and east, and that they represent two distinct species - the Kéwel, retaining the original scientific name, which in simple terms is distributed from Senegal in the west, across the Sahel to Ethiopia and south to Angola and southern DR Congo, and the second being the Imbabala [Tragelaphus sylvaticus], which ranges up from the Cape along the east coast into Mozambique and across Zimbabwe into Zambia, then north up through Malawi, Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya into Somalia. It is considered the most widespread antelope species in sub-Saharan Africa. In my view, unless you’re a seasoned safari goer, the bushbuck is one of those species you could have a bit of trouble identifying, because it’s one of a number of antelopes that are not too dissimilar in appearance. And, to help confuse matters, the bushbuck is one of those species that has many different colour and pattern variations across its range. This has led to no less than 27 different subspecies or forms being named, although in practice they are rarely referenced. This particular photo of a male [ssp. Dama] shows the typical colour form and patterning for the region, although other bushbucks in the locality may be lighter or darker, and have more defined body stripes.

Classification :

ARTIODACTYLA (even-toed ungulates), 

> family : Bovidae (bovids) > subfamily : Reduncinae

Red List status :

Least Concern (LC)

Seen and photographed :-

  • Tanzania (Selous)

  • Zambia (South Luangwa)

There are two subspecies of waterbuck - the nominate Common variety and the Defassa. This is the Common Waterbuck which, despite its name, has a much smaller current geographical range than the Defassa. Broadly speaking it’s distributed down the eastern side of the continent from southeast Somali, through Kenya and Tanzania east of the Gregory Rift (the eastern arm of the Rift Valley), the middle Zambezi and Luangwa Valley areas of Zambia, eastern and northern Botswana to eastern Namibia, Malawi, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe, south to the eastern and northern Transvaal in South Africa. Along the Rift Valley it has a slight overlap with the Defassa subspecies. The waterbuck is one of the heaviest antelopes and the largest of the five species of Kobus, the others being the Kob, Puku, and the Southern and Nile Lechwe.  They are big shaggy animals with a reddish-brown to grey coat, which becomes progressively darker with age. The Common Waterbuck is marginally taller than the Defassa, but the principal difference between the two varieties is the white ring of hair on the rump surrounding its tail. The next photo shows the Defassa, which has a solid white patch on the rump that stops at the tail.

 
 

 

Common Waterbuck  [Kobus ellipsiprymnus, ssp.ellipsiprymnus]

 

Defassa Waterbuck  [Kobus ellipsiprymnus, ssp.defassa]

Classification :

ARTIODACTYLA (even-toed ungulates), 

> family : Bovidae (bovids) > subfamily : Reduncinae

Red List status :

Least Concern (LC)

Seen and photographed :-

  • Tanzania (Katavi)

  • Kenya (Masai Mara & Mara North Conservancy)

The Defassa Waterbuck is found west of the Gregory Rift (the eastern arm of the Rift Valley) and south of the Sahel from Eritrea in the east across to Guinea Bissau in the west. There’s a small population in Senegal, but not in the Gambia where they are now extinct. They also range east of the Congo basin forest down into Angola and Zambia. Whilst the additional comments on the previous photo of the Common Waterbuck equally apply here, there are a couple of other interesting facts about this species.  When sexually excited their skin secretes a greasy substance with the odour of musk, giving it the name of ‘greasy kob’. This odour is so unpleasant that it actually repels some predators. The secretion also assists in waterproofing its body. The Defassa Waterbuck is easily distinguished from the previously described Common Waterbuck by the solid white patch on its rump that stops at its tail, compared with the white ring around the tail on the other form of the species.

 

Classification :

ARTIODACTYLA (even-toed ungulates), 

> family : Bovidae (bovids) > subfamily : Reduncinae

Red List status :

Least Concern (LC)

Seen and photographed :-

  • Tanzania (Katavi)

The Bohor, or Common Reedbuck as it’s also called, is distributed across the continent north of the forest zone from Senegal and the Gambia in the west to Ethiopia, and then south to Lake Tanganyika in Tanzania. Reedbucks particularly favours the wide shallow floodplain areas associated with the major lake and river systems. There are four regional variations across this range - the nominate ssp.redunca in the west and through the northern savannas, ssp.cottoni in the Sudd region of Southern Sudan and northwest DR Congo, ssp.bohor in Ethiopia, and finally this East African subspecies, ssp.wardi. It is one of three genus Redunca species, the other two being the very localised Mountain Reedbuck [Redunca fulvorufula] found in just three widely separated mountainous regions, and the Southern Reedbuck [Redunca arundinum] that’s distributed south of the Bohor’s range through central and southeast Africa. The Bohor Reedbuck is a stocky, medium-sized, sand-coloured antelope species in which the slender proportions of females contrast markedly with the thick-necked, hook-horned males.

 

Classification :

ARTIODACTYLA (even-toed ungulates), 

> family : Bovidae (bovids) > subfamily : Reduncinae

Red List status :

Near Threatened (NT)

Seen and photographed :-

  • Zambia (South Luangwa)

The Puku is regarded as the southern relative of the Kob, with both species being within the genus Kobus together with the Southern and Nile Lechwe, and the Waterbuck. The Puku formerly occurred widely in grasslands near permanent water within the savanna woodlands and floodplains of south-central Africa. However, it has been eliminated from large parts of that range and now exists in fragmented and often isolated populations. Whilst they can still be found in two areas of Tanzania, north-east Botswana on the Chobe River floodplain and occasionally as vagrants in the middle Zambezi valley of Zimbabwe and a small area of eastern Namibia, their current stronghold is in parts of the DR Congo and Zambia. The species is categorised as ’near threatened’ on the IUCN Red List. They are a medium size antelope species with a shaggy coat that is tan to golden-yellow above and whitish below. Only the male of the species has horns, which are vaguely lyre-shaped and heavily ringed, and that grow to around 40-55cm long. 

 

 

Puku  [Kobus vardonii]

 

Bohor Reedbuck  [Redunca redunca, ssp.wardi]

Classification :

ARTIODACTYLA (even-toed ungulates), 

> family : Bovidae (bovids) > subfamily : Aepycerotinae

Red List status :

Least Concern (LC)

Seen and photographed :-

  • Tanzania (Ruaha, Selous & Katavi)

  • Kenya (Masai Mara)

  • Zambia (South Luangwa)

Strictly speaking this is the Common Impala, nominate subspecies [ssp.melampus] as there is another subspecies called the Black-faced Impala [ssp.petersi], which is an isolated population in SW Angola and a small area of Namibia. The Impala is regarded as being one of the most abundant antelope species in Africa. The IUCN confirm that their current range within southeast Africa remains largely unchanged from their historical range, albeit in some areas they have been eliminated by local hunting for meat and the spread of human settlement.  Broadly speaking they now inhabit much of the area from Kenya south through Tanzania, Mozambique and Zambia to the Transvaal, and across into Botswana and eastern Angola. The Impala is categorised as being a medium-sized gazelle-like antelope with a reddish-brown back and tan flanks that are in contrast to their white underbelly. Ear tips, thigh stripes, and the midline of their tail and back are black, as are the tufts of hair that cover their fetlock scent glands. Adult males have long narrow horns with shallow well-spaced annulations, which arch up and out, and then back and up. 

 

 

Impala  [Aepyseros melampus]

Classification :

ARTIODACTYLA (even-toed ungulates), 

> family : Bovidae (bovids) > subfamily : Antilopinae

Red List status :

Least Concern (LC)

Seen and photographed :-

  • Kenya (Masai Mara)

The Thomson’s Gazelle or ‘tommie’ as it’s affectionately called locally, is very closely related to the Mongalla Gazelle [Eudorcas albonotata] from the southern Sudan, which some authorities regard as a subspecies. The IUCN treats them separately. African Zoologist Jonathan Kingdon also groups the Thomson’s Gazelle with the Eritrean Gazelle [Eudorcas tilonura], listing all three species together as a group. There is a further genus Eudorcas species, which is the Red-fronted Gazelle [Eudorcas rufifrons]. Both Kingdon and the IUCN again treat this species separately, whilst others link it directly with the Thomson’s Gazelle. Notwithstanding, the differences of opinion regarding the tommie’s taxonomy, the species is recognised as the gazelle of East Africa, with its core area of distribution being the open plains and grasslands of the Serengeti ecosystem of Tanzania and Kenya, and with a further population in Laikipia in central Kenya. It’s a compact little gazelle, sandy brown to rufous in colour with a distinctive black band running across the flanks. Both sexes can possess horns, which are highly ringed and grow to around 25-40cm long on males and 10-15cm on females. Unbelievably they are reputed to reach speeds in excess of 50mph and are considered to be the second fastest animal on earth.

 

Classification :

ARTIODACTYLA (even-toed ungulates), 

> family : Bovidae (bovids) > subfamily : Antilopinae

Red List status :

Least Concern (LC)

Seen and photographed :-

  • Tanzania (Ruaha)

Both Jonathan Kingdon and the IUCN combine the Grant’s [Nanger granti], Bright’s [Nanga notata] and Tana [Nanger petersi] species together within a greater gazelles group. Elsewhere the Grant’s Gazelle is credited with three defined subspecies - Northern Grant’s [ssp.notata, by naming the Bright’s brighti] found in northern Kenya except in the range of the Bright’s in the far north, and in eastern Ethiopia; Southern Grant’s [ssp.granti] from southern Kenya and down through Tanzania east of the Gregory Rift (the eastern arm of the Rift Valley) to Ruaha; and the Robert’s [ssp.robertsi] to the west of the Gregory Rift in Tanzania encompassing the Serengeti, and into the Masai Mara and Loita Plains area of Kenya. Apart from size, the Grant’s Gazelle is somewhat similar in appearance to the smaller Thomson’s Gazelle, particularly the female which, from a quick sighting, could be mistaken for a male ’tommie’. Both sexes have horns - the male’s are large and heavily ridged, the female’s noticeably shorter and slimmer.  The horn shape or style varies regionally. In Tanzania there are just two subspecies, the Robert’s and the Southern. Their horn shape is noticeably different - the Robert’s horns splay sharply outwards and slightly backwards from about a third of the length, whereas the Southern race have a lyrate shape, gradually curving outwards and then sharply inwards at the tip.

 

 

Thomson's Gazelle  [Eudorcas thomsonii]

 

Southern Grant's Gazelle  [Nanger granti, ssp.granti]

Classification :

ARTIODACTYLA (even-toed ungulates), 

> family : Bovidae (bovids) > subfamily : Antilopinae

Red List status :

Least Concern (LC)

Seen and photographed :-

  • Tanzania (Ruaha)

As the sole member of its genus, the Oribi has patchy distribution across its range, which spreads across the continent from Senegal in the west over to Ethiopia and Eritrea, and south through eastern Africa to Angola and the eastern Cape. There are a number of geographic variations and defined subspecies across this range which are recognised by many, albeit the IUCN say that they reflect individual differences and have little or no validity. Notwithstanding that, both the Tanzania mammals guide that I use and the Kingdon field guide both make reference to two varieties - the black-tailed form [ssp.hastata] found across the west and south, and the tan-brown tailed form [ssp.cottoni] which you'd only see in the Serengeti. This is the black-tailed variety found between the Great Ruaha River in Tanzania and the Zambezi. The Oribi is a small slender antelope species that is primarily found on grasslands and floodplains and open dry swamp areas within miombo bushland. They have a glossy, yellowish to rufous brown coat that contrasts with their white chin, throat, underparts and rump. Their short bushy tails are normally brown to black on the outside and white on the inside, except for the aforementioned ssp.hastata that has a completely black tail. Only the male of the species possess horns, which are relatively short, thin and straight.

 

 

Oribi  [Ourebia ourebi, ssp.hastata]

Classification :

ARTIODACTYLA (even-toed ungulates), 

> family : Bovidae (bovids) > subfamily : Antilopinae

Red List status :

Least Concern (LC)

Seen and photographed :-

  • Kenya (Mara North Conservancy)

Of the four currently recognised subspecies of the Kirk’s Dik-dik [Madoqua kirkii], three forms, being the Cavendish’s or Naivasha Dik-dik [ssp.cavendishi], Thomas’s or Ugogo Dik-dik [ssp.thomasi] and the nominate Kirk’s Dik-dik [ssp.kirki] are found in adjacent regions of East Africa, whereas the Damara Dik-dik [ssp.damarensis] resides in parts of Namibia and Angola in southwest Africa. The Cavendish’s Dik-dik is found in eastern Uganda, central and south west Kenya including the Masai Mara, and northwest Tanzania including the Serengeti ecosystem. Dik-diks are small dainty antelopes standing no more than 45cm tall. Only the male possesses horns, which are approximately 75mm long.  Whilst in most forms the female is slightly larger and heavier than the male, they are around the same size for this variety. They are very similar in colour to the Thomas’s Dik-dik, but slightly paler.

Classification :

ARTIODACTYLA (even-toed ungulates), 

> family : Bovidae (bovids) > subfamily : Antilopinae

Least Concern (LC)

Red List status :

Seen and photographed :-

  • Tanzania (Ruaha)

The Thomas’s or Ugogo Dik-dik is only found in central Tanzania. The female of this form is slightly larger and heavier than the male. They have rufous sides and, despite the appearance in these photos, are slightly darker than the Cavendish’s Dik-dik.

 
 

 

Cavendish's Dik-dik  [Madoqua kirkii, ssp.cavendishi]

 

Thomas's Dik-dik  [Madoqua kirkii, ssp.thomasi]

 

Bush Duiker  [Sylvicapra grimmia]

Classification :

ARTIODACTYLA (even-toed ungulates), 

> family : Bovidae (bovids) > subfamily : Cephalophinae

Red List status :

Least Concern (LC)

Seen and photographed :-

  • Kenya (Mara North Conservancy)

This particular species, also known as the Common or Grey Duiker, is regarded as being one of the most widely distributed antelopes across sub-Saharan Africa. They exist almost everywhere except for the Horn and the central and western rainforests. Bush Duikers flourish in a wide range of habitats where their need for shelter and food can be met. They are not dependant on water as they get the moisture they require from the many different foods they eat including, but not restricted to, fruit, leaves, shoots, roots, bark, flowers, bulbs and fungi. Although some authorities refer to numerous races of this species, including an East African form [ssp.orbicularis], they’re not universally accepted. In fact current thinking suggests that there is only one species of Bush Duiker, whereas there are no less that sixteen different species of Forest Duiker [genus Cephalophus], and a further three species of Blue Duiker [genus Philantomba]. The Bush Duiker is longer legged and larger eared than the Forest Duiker species. Colouring varies from region to region with plain tawny animals in the far east and west, and heavily grizzled, grey or brown forms, in the central part of their range. They have a long, typical duiker face with a black midline ending in a rounded, leathery black nose. Only the male of the species has horns, which are around 180mm long, straight and upright.

 

Classification :

ARTIODACTYLA (even-toed ungulates),

> family : Suidae (pigs)

Red List status :

Least Concern (LC)

Seen and photographed :-

  • Tanzania (Ruaha & Katavi)

  • Kenya (Masai Mara)

  • Zambia (South Luangwa)

For the record, there are four generally recognised subspecies of the Common Warthog - the nominate Northern or Nolan Warthog [ssp.africanus] found in the Sahel from Senegal in the west across to central Ethiopia, the Eritrean Warthog [ssp.aeliani] from northern Ethiopia and Djibouti, the Central African Warthog [ssp.massaicus] found across eastern and central Africa, and the Southern Warthog [ssp.sundevallii] which inhabits the northern part of the southern African subregion. The species prefers savanna grasslands, open bush and woodland. It is usually absent from forests, cool montane grasslands and desert areas. Common Warthogs are described as relatively long-legged, but short-necked pigs with prominent curved tusks. Apart from the lank black hair that forms a dorsal crest from the top of their head and down most of their back, their grey skin is almost naked. Their facial ‘warts’ consist of three paired masses of thickened skin and connective tissue that protects their jaw, eyes and muzzle. Feeding animals drop to their knees and usually proceed to graze in this position keeping their hindquarters raised.  

 

 

Footnote :

Correctly classifying mammals is notoriously difficult because different authorities, specialist groups and individuals have different views about the taxonomy (primarily to do with ORDERS, clades and tribes, and whether a particular form of a species is a species in its own right or whether it's a subspecies). On top of that you'll have different opinions regarding the correct common name of the species as many species have alternative or local names. So, it's not surprising that every list you look at differs to some degree. I've tried to pick the most current, and the most recognised, information when compiling my list and for key-wording and cataloguing the species. My primary sources of information for this particular list are :-​

 

Central African Warthog  [Phacochoerus africanus, ssp.massaicus]

  • Wikipedia (an invaluable resource), and the IUCN Red List

  • Jonathan Kingdon's 'Field Guide to African Mammals' (second edition, 2015)

  • A Field Guide to the Larger Mammals of Tanzania (WildGuides - 2014)

  • Animals of the Masai Mara (WildGuides - 2012)

  • Ungulate Taxonomy by Colin Groves & Peter Grubb (2011)

  • Beat about the Bush - Mammals : 'Taxonomic Chart' by Trevor Carnaby (updated edition, 2010)  

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