Cow and Yak – what’s the difference?

The domestic Yak (Bos grunniens) is similar to domestic cattle, such as cows and bulls (Bos taurus or Bos primegenius).

They are both bovids or bovines.

They are both mammals with udders (that provide milk for their calves).

They both eat grass – they are herbivorous grazers.

They are both ungulates – they both have cloven hooves.

The domestic Yak grunts, whereas domestic cattle moo.

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The Ostrich Wing: why the ostrich can’t fly

The Ostrich (Struthio camelus) is a large African flightless bird.

Its wings are also large, with a wingspan of about two metres (6 feet and 7 inches).

Ostriches have many differences from flying birds.

Flying birds have external feathers with hooks that lock together. The Ostrich external feathers do not have tiny hooks that lock together. These hooklets are called barbules. They zip the vanes of individual feathers together to make the feather strong enough to hold the airfoil (the shape of the wing that makes it aerodynamic). Similar foils in water are called hydrofoils.

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African Rhinoceroses: Black and White

What is the difference between African Rhinoceroses – the White Rhinoceros and the Black Rhinoceros?

A White Rhinoceros is grey and a Black Rhinoceros is dark grey.

A White Rhinoceros is larger than a Black Rhinoceros.

A White Rhinoceros has shorter horns than a Black Rhinoceros.

A White Rhinoceros is a grazer (eats grass) and a Black Rhinoceros is a browser (eats leaves and twigs from trees).

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Kenyan Giraffes: What’s the difference between a Masai, a Reticulated and a Rothschild’s Giraffe?

What is the difference between Kenyan giraffes – a Masai, a Reticulated, and a Rothschild’s Giraffe?

A Masai Giraffe has irregular patterns.

A Reticulated Giraffe has regular patterns with a bright chestnut colour and white spaces.

A Rothschild’s Giraffe has brown patterns with cream spaces.


Photographer: Martina Nicolls


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Oxpeckers and their symbiotic relationships

Oxpeckers have a symbiotic relationship with oxen, antelopes, zebras, hippos, rhinos, giraffes, and many ungulates (hoofed-animals) in Africa.

Oxpeckers are birds that feed on ticks that live on the body of animals. Sometimes they are called tickbirds. The ticks live near the animal’s ears, neck, eyelids, forehead and underbelly. Oxpeckers also feed on the earwax and dandruff of animals.

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Why do some pigeons have feathered feet?

Most pigeons have scales on their feet (and not feathers).

However, some pigeons have a genetic variation (or two) that gives them feathers on their legs and feet (a lot of feathers or a little bit).

Foot feathering comes from variations in two genes: slipper and grouse. A bird that has the feathery versions of both slipper and grouse have an extreme form of foot feathering, called muff.

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Raptor eating its prey: a Southern Giant Pouched Rat

Raptors are birds of prey, such as eagles, hawks, vultures, kites, and buzzards.

They have strong, sharp beaks and even stronger claws, called talons.

This photograph is a Yellow-Billed Kite (Milvus aegyptius) from Kenya.

Its prey is a Southern Giant Pouched Rat (Cricetomys ansorgei), which is a rodent in the Nesomyidae family, found in southern and eastern Africa.

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Banded Mongoose

The Banded Mongoose (Mungos mungo) is a small carnivorous mammal found in central and eastern Africa. Other species of mongoose are found in Asia and Europe.

The Banded Mongoose is brown with rough fur, with a pointy nose, small ears, and a long furry tail. It has slightly darker bands, or stripes, along its back.

It can grow to a length of 30-45 centimetres (12-17 inches) with 15-30 centimetre (6-12 inch) long tails.

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Eastern Black-and-White Colobus Monkey

The Eastern Black-and-White Colobus Monkey (Colobus guereza) comes from eastern Africa, in countries such as Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, and Ethiopia.

The Eastern Black-and-White Colobus Monkey is large, black and white, with a very long hairy tail.

They grow to about 61 centimetres (24 inches). The tail is as long as its body and head, totalling another 61 centimetres. The tail has a white tuft at its end.

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Marbled African Lungfish

The Marbled African Lungfish (Protopterus aethiopicus) is one of four species of lungfish found in Africa. It is found in the Nile River and Lake Victoria, and other lakes, swamplands and floodplains.

The Marbled African Lungfish is a dark-coloured or grey, long, eel-like fish with spaghetti-like pectoral and pelvic fins. It has a mottled or spotted pattern, and small blue eyes.

It has soft scales and a paddle-like tail. They can swim like eels or crawl along the bottom of the river in shallow freshwater with their little leg-like structures.

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