Animal of the week – Cape or African Buffalo

cape-buffalo-distribution.JPG

The Cape or African Buffalo is a large mammal and the only type of cow adapted to the African savannah. Herds vary from 10 to about 2000 in areas such as the Okovango Delta where they are migratory. Buffalo do not really have any predators, Lions and Crocodiles will attack weak or old members of herds. Old bulls often leave herds to become solitary and they are the most often preyed upon. Buffalo can be dangerous and often stampede towards predators. Buffalo kill the young of their predators and many adult animals are also killed. Buffalo wallow to help keep cool and remove fleas. Buffalo are normally seen with oxpecker birds, Buffalo’s best friend, which also help remove fleas and ticks.
cape-buffalo.JPG


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Animal of the week – African Leopard

African Leopard
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Where Leopards live

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Animal Type: Mammal – Cat
No. In Wild: 500,000
Distribution: Most of Africa.
Habitat: Thick savannah bush, rainforest, highland areas. Is very adaptable.
Predators: Lions, Hyenas, Crocodiles and Humans.
Prey: Small to medium sized Antelope, Monkeys, Hares, Birds and small mammals. Has developed a taste for dog and often takes Jackals and occasionally may take a Wild Dog.

Despite the being 500,000 Leopards in Africa seeing a Leopard is amazingly hard. Leopards are among the most secretive animals in the world and are most active at night. They spend the day lying in thick areas of bush or in trees. Leopards enjoy Boabab, Umbrella Thorn Acacia and Fig trees.


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Animal of the week – Cheetah

Cheetah
Week 3 – starting 14th of February
The Cheetah is surprisingly more endangered than other African cats. There are only around 5,000 Cheetahs left in the wild. Many Cheetahs are starving due to not having the privacy to hunt. Also a major factor of Cheetah populations going down is their vulnerability to disease. This is because during the Ice age Cheetahs were wiped out apart from 1 pregnant female. Therefore they have little genetic diversity although zoos around the world have been regularly swapping Cheetahs in an attempt to tackle this problem.

Cheetahs used to be found in Africa, Asia and parts of Europe but now are only found Africa. Despite being a predator on the plains it can fall prey to other cats, Leopards will eat Cheetahs while Lions will kill and leave the body for the vultures. Cheetahs normally have about 2-6 cubs in a litter although probably only half of them will survive. This is beacuse of predation by hyenas, leopards, lions and even large eagles.

Cheetahs will eat anything they can catch and take down. Their most common prey are Thompson’s Gazelles or tommy that are abundant on the east african plains. Also they prey on smaller antelopes such as Dik-Dik, Duiker and Reedbuck. Male Cheetahs that live in groups called coalitions are able to tackle larger prey such as Topi, Impala and Hartebeest as well as young Wildebeest and Zebras. Cheetahs have to eat quickly at meals because they are often bossed away by scavengers like Hyenas. Hyenas are stronger and more powerful than Cheetahs and a fight would only end in one result, a dead Cheetah. The Cheetah is the fastest land mammal on earth and to catch its prey it will stalk the prey to around 70 metres. Then it will take off and after a few seconds the Cheetah is running at its maximum speed of 65 miles per hour. It can only hold this speed for around 15 seconds. It will then suffocate the prey until it is dead.


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Animal of the week – Nyala

NyalaWeek 1 – starting 31st January.
This week my animal of the week is the Nyala. Nyala are only found in South Africa although they are abundant in the parks and Game reserves. Male and female are easily distinguished with several major differences. Male Nyalas are almost twice as big as the females, they also carry large dangerous horn which the females do not possess and the biggest difference is the skin colour. Males are browny black whilst females are orange, they however both have white stripes across their body. They live in in medium sized herds of around 20 – 50 of which are around 10% male. Like most antelopes males which haven’t won a herd will form bachelor herds. Fights are minimal and the males territories overlap vastly. They are always willing to drink and to hang around with other herds. They can fall prey to Leopard, Lions and Hyenas but males will defend herds using their powerful horns.


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Dangerous wild animal?

This is Sheeba, a brown-spotted Bengal, and one of the Jordan-Maynard cats. The Bengal is a rather new breed, created by hybridising the wild Asian Leopard Cat with domestic breeds including the Abyssinian and Burmese. It is regarded with some disdain by proponents of more established breeds, but is allegedly beloved by celebrities including Rolf Harris, Esther Rantzen, Mohammed al Fayed, and, umm, Jeffrey Archer.

Notwithstanding her exalted pedigree, Sheeba seems to enjoy life as domestic moggie and, aside from occasionally biting my ankles when supper is late, shows no tendency to terrorism. So we were rather surprised to read this article in the Hampshire Chronicle, 28th January 2005:

An American woman living in Winchester is having trouble being reunited with her cat because its breed has been classed as dangerous. Tina Hulme’s domesticated Bengal cat, Ava, is descended from the Asian Bengal leopard cat and the Department for Environment and Rural Affairs has classed it as a dangerous animal. Two-year-old Ava is still in the States, but Tina will have to apply for a special licence to bring her into the UK. Six months quarantine will follow, and then Tina’s home will have to be inspected by a Defra agent to ensure it is suitable to house a “wild animal”. Said Tina: “I just want my baby back.”


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