The Red River Hog, Potamochoerus porcus, lives in the rainforests of western Africa below the Sahara desert. It has a bit of a crazy appearance, with its bright red fur, tufted ears, and scalloped skull complete with knobby tusks on the larger males. It even has a white stripe down its back and extra long fur on its flanks. Males have whiskers. Unlike domestic pigs, this cousin is covered in fur with no areas of visible skin. However, like most pig species, red river hogs are omnivorous, eating just about anything they can find while rooting around in the soil and leaf litter with their sensitive snouts.
Tag Archives: africa
Dik-diks are not quite the smallest hoofed critters on the planet, but they are pretty close! The Kirk’s Dik-dik, Madoqua kirkii, lives as pairs of mates with their children, in the savannahs of eastern and southwestern Africa. There are three other dik-dik species, all in Africa. These tiny little horned antelope stand right around one foot (12 to 14 inches) at the shoulder — smaller than most dogs and lighter than many cats! Female dik-diks are larger, but males have horns, often showing distinct rings. Dik-diks are herbivores but do not eat grass, preferring other green plants, plant shoots (new growth), berries, and other fruits.
The Bat Eared Fox, Otocyon megalotis, is about the size of your average domestic house cat, and eats a diet of insects in the African savannah. Check out the video and links below for more on this endearing fox species.
Bat Eared Fox
Virunga National Park lies on DR Congo’s eastern border with Uganda, in eastern Africa. This is home to the famed Mountain Gorillas but also features hippos, lions, forest elephants, the golden cat, and the okapi. This was Africa’s first national park, originally named Albert NP after King Albert I of Belgium in 1925 before the time of independence. Since then, the park has suffered greatly from unstable politics and threats of oil exploitation. However, dedicated naturalists and park rangers have brought the park back from the edge of destruction and made it a thriving tourist attraction and safe home for wildlife.
Hornbill Nest Video
The desert heat has evaporated so much water from the Umm Al-maa oasis in the Sahara desert, that it is saltier than the sea. Yet migrating sparrows feast here. How? Watch this short little clip from BBC’s Africa documentary series to find out.
Poisonous Sahara Oasis
Fennec foxes are the smallest species in the canine family, only about 8 inches at the top of their shoulder, body about 12 inches long, tail a bit longer… and ears about 6 inches long — up to half the length of its body! Of course, these ears help them hunt, but they also release heat into the air to keep the fox cooler. Their tiny feet are also well padded with hair to protect against hot desert sand. Their coat is roughly the color of sand to help them stay camouflaged in their Sahara desert home. Fennecs live in groups of about 10, digging interconnected burrows at the base of stable sand dunes lined with at least some vegetation. They tend to stay in their dens during the hot desert day, doing most of their hunting at night when it is cooler. Fennecs eat a wide variety of insects, small mammals, and some plant materials such as roots and berries. Click the links below the pic to see so many more cute pics, and to learn more about the world’s smallest fox!
The Succulent Karoo is a region of south Africa which hosts 1/3 of the world’s succulent plant species — the richest diversity of succulent flora on the planet! The climate here is mild compared to other desert areas, with sparse but reliable rainfall, especially in the winter. The heat of summer is also moderated by fog created by the Benguela Current flowing northward along the coast.
The strange-looking, bare-headed White-Necked Rockfowl, Picathartes gymnocephalus, lives only in a small area of western Africa, below the Sahara desert. Its nearly featherless head shows bright yellow skin with black patches behind its eyes. This strange bird eats mostly insects, but feeds its young frogs. It often nests in caves and will sometimes follow an army of ants, gobbling up insects disturbed by the parade.
Doesn’t this palm nut vulture (Gypohierax angolensis) remind you of an eagle with a vulture’s head and feet spliced on?
This African bird of prey is unique in that it prefers the fruit of the oil palm tree over meat! It also eats crabs, insects, and other small animals — as well as a few other species of palm nuts.