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


JackalBlack-backed Jackal
Although renowned as carrion scavengers, Jackals are relentlessly hunted by farmers due to stock depredation. Other food includes small antelope, mongooses, rodents, small reptiles, insects, scorpions and spiders. They prefer drier habitats like bushveld, savanna and grassland.  This species still occurs in relatively high numbers
on Chief Kgosi Mmusi Moses Maotoe's tribal lands at Silkaatskop.

HyenaHyena - Brown and Spotted
Brown Hyenas are smaller and less aggressive than their more familiar cousin, the Spotted Hyena. Both are found in desert, semi-desert, dry savanna, open scrub and open woodland and rocky hills with brush. Although carrion is preferred, small prey of all types are taken. Hyenas can often be heard howling at dusk, and it is the Spotted Hyena with
the laughing whoop.

Unmistakable by the tufts of hair on the tips of their ears, caracals are solitary and seldom seen during the day. Adept tree climbers and agile on the ground, Caracals have a reputation as stock killers, although this is not their preferred prey. They appear to be important in controlling populations of Dassies.

African Wild Cat
Similar to the domestic cat but slightly larger (10-15 lb. (5-7 kg), 22-28 inches (56-71 cm) body length plus an extra 12 inches (30 cm) for tail). These wild cats are found in many habitats feeding on mice, birds, insects, amphibians, and even small stock and poultry. Variation in color is such that the cats can be steel gray or rusty brown, or even a goldish red color.

The cheetah is renowned for its speed (over 75-100km/h), this is probably the fastest animal on earth. Feeding on small to medium antelope, ostrich, warthogs, porcupines, and other mammals and may hunt singly or in a pack.

Genets are small cats, nocturnal and solitary, preferring woodland habitats. Two types are found in Namibia, the Large Spotted and Common. Their omnivorous diet includes small mammals, birds, invertebrates, fruit, carrion, and even poultry.

The largest of the spotted cats in Africa, Leopards are secretive and solitary. Preferring forests and hilly areas, Leopards may be found in a wide variety of habitats excluding arid deserts without water. Small to medium sized antelope and occasionally larger antelope, baboons, warthogs, and even domestic dogs are part of their varied diet.

Prides of lions may have up to 30 individuals, in a wide range of habitats from desert to dense bush. the female lionesses are the predominant hunters of the pride, and although the wildebeest is favored, anything that moves may be taken by this largest of the African predators, from mice to elephants or buffalo.

Several types of Mongooses are found in Namibia. These small agile predators feed on insects such as termites and beetles, small reptiles and rodents, birds, eggs, carrion, and even fruit. Some species are nocturnal (White-tailed) and some are diurnal (Slender, Banded), and the Water mongoose is found mainly in marshes while other species are found from deserts to rain forests, plains to mountains, open woodlands and grasslands (Dwarf Mongoose) and even in close proximity to man.

These rare cats with long legs, short tails, and attractive markings are solitary and nocturnal. They prefer mammal prey, including small antelope lambs, birds, reptiles, fish, and even domestic poultry. They are dependent on a water supply and shelter such as high grass or undergrowth.

dogs1.jpgWild Dogs
The wild dogs of Africa are very rare and found only in Namibia and parts of South Africa.  They hunt in extended family groups, preying mainly on small antelope such as the Impala.  These dogs have succumbed to persecution from humans and they are susceptible to a variety of introduced diseases.

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