Fauna of African Region


This region includes continental Africa south of Sahara desert. This is mainly a tropical region having evergreen forests and grasslands in the central and eastern parts. There is desert in the north.

 Mammals. There are 38 families of mammals, out of which 12 are exclusive and the rest are shared with Neotropical and Oriental Regions.

Animals having worldwide distribution include shrews, rabbits, squirrels, cricetid mice, dogs, mired mice, cats and bovids, antilopes.

The exclusive animals include giraffes, hippopotamus, Aardvark or Cape anteater belonging to Tubulidentata, rock hyrax (Hyracoidea), golden mole (Chrysochloridae), elephant shrew, small deer-like water chevrotain, aye-aye, bushbabies and lemurs in Madagascar. There are 6 endemic families of rodents and 3 of insectivores.

There are no camels, bears and tigers in this region.

Animals shared with Oriental are, lorises, monkeys, apes, pangolins, Cheetah, elephants and rhinoceroses.

Shared with Palaearctic are dormice, jerboa (Dipodidae), wild horses.

 Aves. Bird fauna has affinities with Oriental Region. There are cuckoos, woodpeckers, hornbill, sunbirds, herons, orioles, birds of prey, storks, parrots, pigeons, fowls, pitta, guinea fowl, hornbill, swallows and bee-eaters.

There are 6 exclusive families that include ostrich, secretary bird (Secretariidae), hammer head that feed on frogs and fish, crested touracos (Turacidae), ground hornbill, mouse birds and helmet shrike. Honey guide feeds on honey bee larvae and guides honey collecting tribals to bee hives. Two species of oxpeckers, namely, yellow billed and red billed feed on ticks and other ectoparasites of rhinoceroses. The crocodile bird dares to enter the mouth of crocodiles to feed on leeches.

Reptiles. Crocodiles and turtles abound and few lizards belong to families Lacertidae and Agamidae. Iguanid horned lizards are absent. Spiny lizard of family Cordylidae is restricted to this region. Chameleon also occurs in the Oriental Region. Snakes include pythons, Typhlops and biting vipers. Crocodiles include, Crocodylus noloticus, Osteolaemus in West Africa and Osteoblepharon in Congo.

Amphibia. There are no urodeles but frogs and toads abound such as the African ridged frog and African shovel-nosed frog. Family Hylidae of tree frogs is absent, replaced by Polypedatidae. The flying frog is the African rhacophorid. Genera Rana and Bufo are absent. Phrynomerid tree frogs are endemic. Xenopus and aquatic clawed toads present. Limbless amphibians are present.

Fishes. Lung fishes have two species of Protopterus that live in the rivers and lakes of tropics. Chondrostei is represented by 10 species of Bichir (Polypterus). Electric eel of family Mormyridae has electric organs in tail. There are cat fishes, carps, characins and generally the fish fauna is diverse.

Fauna shows overwhelming similarity with the Oriental Region.

SUBREGIONS OF AFRICAN REGION

1. East African. This includes tropical Africa and tropical Arabia. Fauna contains 145 families of vertebrates. There are rhinoceros, zebra, giraffe, cheetah, spotted hyena and lions.

2. West African. Western Africa up to Congo includes forests. Fauna has 134 families of vertebrates that include, gorilla, chaimpanzee, monkeys, baboons, flying squirrel.

3. South African. Southern portion of Africa. Fauna contains 133 families of vertebrates. There are ostriches and secretary birds. Mammals include golden mole, elephant shrew, jumping mice, aardvark and naked mole rat that leads subterranean existence.

4. Malagasy. Madagascar, Mauritius, Seychelles and neighbouring islands. Fauna has 86 families out of which 8 are endemic. There are aye-aye, lemurs and common tenrec (Tenrec ecaudatus). Helmet birds and cuckoo rollers and rough-tailes snakes (Uropeltidae) are endemic. The flightless bird Dodo which was related to flightless pigeon became extinct in 1681 due to hunting by man and egg predation by dogs, pigs and monkeys.