Dr. Charles van Riper III

Professor, School of Natural Resources and the Environment
USGS Research Scientist Emeritus  

Sonoran Desert Research Station
125 Biological Sciences East ~ University of Arizona ~Tucson, AZ 85721-125
(520) 626-7027 ~ (520) 670-5100 fax ~ (520) 491-0721 call

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Wildlife of South Africa at Venetia Limpopo and Silkaatskop 
Including Chief Kgosi Mmusi Moses Maotoe's Tribal Lands

A Study by Dr. Charles van Riper III with assistance from Eddie Westphal

  Introduction | Methods of Study | Study Areas | Venetia Limpopo | Credits and Funding | Wildlife of Africa |
Predators | Classic African Animals | Small Antelope | Large Antelope | Small Mammals


This heaviest of all land mammals can weigh up to 6000kg. Although generally placid, Elephants can be aggressive if threatened, particularly when young are in a herd. Elephants at Venetia Limpopo are important in keeping water holes open, so many animals are dependent on them for this role. Strict vegetarians, they live in herds ruled by a matriarchy of a senior cow with the bull joining the herd only during mating season.

The tallest animal on earth, the giraffe can be up to 5 m tall. Preferring open brush areas at Venetia Limpopo with Acacia trees, giraffes are predominantly diurnal. Loose herds congregate with no apparent hierarchy. They do not need surface water, but do often frequent water holes within the Reserve.

Semi-aquatic and spending most of the day submerged, hippos are found in throughout Venetia Limpopo at larger water holes and at the reservoir. At the latter location, there is a small herd with a territorial dominant bull. Grazing at night up to 30 km away from water, hippos may be responsible for more human deaths in Africa than any other wild animal.


This flightless bird is the largest bird in Africa.



Only the Black (not the White) Rhino occur in Venetia Limpopo. White is the larger, Rhinobut the Black is the more aggressive. The horns of the black Rhino are approximately the same size, while the fore-horn of the White is much larger. The White Rhino has a square upper lip to aid in grazing while the Black has a prehensile upper lip to aid in browsing.   The few Black Rhino prefer the more open veld habitat



Warthogs favor open ground, grasslands, waterholes, and woodlands. Two pairs of prominent wartlike folds on the face gives them their name. Tusks may reach formidable length, curving high over the
car-warthog.jpgsnout, and both sets are razor sharp.They do not depend on water, but will drink if it is available and wallow. The prime food is grasses, especially new sprouts after a burn, but berries, tree bark, and other fruit is eaten. An occasional snake or small mammal or carrion is also relished.

Both Bircher's and Harman's Zebras occur in South Africa, but only the Bircher's is found in the Venetia Limpopo Nature Reserve. This large mammal is a grazers and is gregarious. Bircher's  have shadow stripes and lack a dewlap. Where Harman's occur, this zebra is larger and prefers mountainous areas
and sand flats.

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