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Tanzania Mammals Glossary

Scientific name : Potagomale velox

IUCN Status : LC (Least Concern)

The giant otter shrew is a mammal superficially similar to an otter in appearance. It is characterized by a long, flat tail, which it uses for swimming by sideways undulation like a fish. It has a muzzle covered with bristles, and flat shielded nostrils. It has dense, soft hair, silky on the tail. It has small eyes and external ears. Its fur consists of a dense undercoat and coarse guard hairs. It possesses counter-shading with dark brown on its back and whitish or yellowish under parts. The tail is covered with a short, silky coat of fur. This species prefers fresh water aquatic microhabitats in the rainforest. Preferred environments include fast flowing rivers, streams, swamps, coastal rivers, and during rainy season some may retreat to small forest pools. The giant otter shrew builds burrows among riverbank crevices. attacks prey using sharp bites, sometimes pinning the prey with its fore feet, and flipping crabs over to attack their weaker ventral surface.

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Scientific name : Leptailurus serval

IUCN Status :

A slender, spotted cat with long legs, small head and short tail. Coat of yellowish colour with elongated black spots merging in stripes on the upper neck. White underparts and tail of same colour than body. They are primarily found in savanna habitat, but also common in subalpine land, agricultural land and along the margins of forests. Hares and rodents form the major part of their diet. They are solitary and territorial. They are active at all hours of the day, but peak activity occurs at night.

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Scientific name : Herpestes ichneumon

IUCN Status : LC (Least Concern)

A large, grizzled mangoose with a relatively long head and body and short legs. Face and legs are black, and the tailis long with a back tuft at the tip. When running it has a distinctive smooth gait and kees very low to the ground. Widely distributed in savanna habitat including edges of rivers, swamps and lakes. Strictly diurnal, it is usually solitary or can be seen in pairs. It feeds on a variety of foods including birds, frogs, reptiles, crabs and invertebrates. It is capable of killing large snakes as it is found to be only lightly affected to some snakes’ venom.

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Scientific name : Canis mesomelas

IUCN Status : LC (Least Concern)

Found in a wide range if habitats including grassland, wooden savanna and agricultural land, Black backed jackal is a generalist feeder, eating birds, invertebrates, plants as well as small animals. Mostly nocturnal and crepuscular, adults form monogamous pairs defending a territory of 0.7-4km².

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Scientific name : Canis aureus

IUCN Status : LC (Least Concern)

A scruffy-looking jackal with a sandy or yellow-brown body and a relatively long muzzle. The back has black, white and brown streaks of hair. The legs are reddish and the lower part of the tailis black. Males are slightly larger than females. They are restricted to arid, open grasslands and bushlands. They are highly adaptable to human presence and can be found around villages. They are omnivorous, feeding on invertebrates, fruits, reptiles, rodents, birds and small ungulates. Adult jackals form monogamous pairs that defend a permanent territory of 2-4km². In Serengeti groups can occur of up to 5 individuals. They may be active at all hours of the day but are mistly nocturnal around human habitat.

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Scientific name : Lycaon pictus lupinus

IUCN Status : EN (Endangered)

A tall, lean canide with long legs, a bushy tail and distinctive large, round hears. The fur is white, black and brown with each individual having a unique colour pattern. Males are slightly larger than females. They are found in a wide variety of habitats and have even been recorded at the summit of Mt Kilimanjaro (5 895m) ! They feed mostly on medium-size ungulates, particularly Impalas, and rarely scavenge. They occasionnaly take sheep and goats where wild preys are depleted. They are higlhy social and live in packs from 6-13 adults, usually dominant male & female will breed while other members take care of the pups.

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Scientific name : Poecilogale albinucha

IUCN Status : LC (Least Concern)

A small black and white weasel with a very long body and short legs. The coat is black with four white stripes down the back, and a white tail. Males are larger then females. They are found in a variety of habitats including forest edge, grassland and marshes. It is usually seen singly but mother-offspring groups of 3-4 individuals can occur. It is mainly nocturnal, and is a rodent specialist : its low, slender body allowing it to follow and hunt rodents, digging them out of the ground. If threatened, it can secrete a strong smelling yellow liquid from its anal glands.

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Scientific name : Aonyx capensis

IUCN Status : NT (Near Threatened)

A large otter with a light brown to dark brown body and a large white patch that extends from the face to the neck and throat. It can be found in freshwater rivers, forest streams and montane habitat. They remain close to river as they required freshwater to clean their fur. Crabs form the majority of their diet, they also eat frogs, invertebrates and occasionally birds and small mammals. They are mainly crepuscular and move alone or in pairs, sometimes in groups of two adults and 2-3 youngs.

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Scientific name : Acinonyx jubatus

IUCN Status : VU (Vulnerable)

The cheetah is built for speed; it has long, slim, muscular legs and a small, rounded head. The fur is a yellowish beige with distinct black spots across most of the body. Cheetahs are found in a wide variety of habitats, ranging from desert to woodland. They feed on a wide range of prey, from hares up to adult wildebeests, though they prefer prey the size of gazelles & impalas. Cheetahs have a unique social system whereby adult males hold small territories (approx. 50km²) while females and non-territorial males roam across larger areas. Females are solitary or accompanied by dependent cubs, while males can live in coalition of 2-3 individuals, usually brothers. They are predominantly diurnal, being most active in the early morning and evening.

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Scientific name : Caracal caracal

IUCN Status :

Le Caracal est un chat massif de taille moyenne avec un corps brun ou rouge et des parties inférieures blanches. Le visage est très distinctif et la queue relativement courte. Les oreilles sont noires sur le dos et touffues avec de longs poils noirs (environ 4-5 cm). C'est une espèce privilégiant les zones arides, habitant la savane, et les régions boisées. Il chasseprincipalement les mammifères de petite et moyenne tailles tels que les rongeurs, les lièvres, les dik-diks et les Bush Duikers. Ils sont nocturnes mais peuvent être observés pendant la journée dans les zones protégées. Ils sont solitaires, bien que l’on puisse parfois observer des femelles avec leurs petits.

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Scientific name : Felis silvestris

IUCN Status :

The wild cat is very similar in size and appearance to the domestic cat, but is larger and has longer legs. Most individuals in Tanzania have a light grey coat. Chin and underparts are white. The tail has several dark bands and a black tip. They occur and a wide range of habitats but avoid thick forests. Rodents are their main prey. They are mainly nocturnal but can be active in early morning or late afternoon. Little is know about their social behaviour, they are solitary and probably territorial.

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Scientific name : Panthera leo leo

IUCN Status : VU (Vulnerable)

Lions are found in a wide range of habitats including savannah grassland, bushland, woodland and forest. They hunt a wide range of prey, from gazelles to buffalos and occasionally giraffes and young elephants. They also scavenge from other predators and may even kill cattle. If hunting can occur any time during the day, most activity is at night. Females do most of the hunting while males can take part when catching larger prey. Lions live in prides of closely related females (3-10 individuals) and 1-3 adult males. Males taking over a new pride will usually kill all the cubs, ensuring paternity of the new offspring.

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Scientific name : Panthera pardus pardus

IUCN Status : VU (Vulnerable)

A large cat with a distinctly spotted coat. Spots are black on the inside and brown on the outside. Leopards occupy a very diverse range of habitats including forests, woodland, swamps, mountains and urban areas. They eat a wide variety of food including beetles, rodents, hares and birds but also much larger preys such as antelopes and monkeys. Their prey is often stashed in trees to feed on later. They have a good sense of smell and mark their ranges with urine; they also leave claw marks on trees to warn other leopards to stay away. Leopards are solitary, although mating pairs with 1 or 2 cubs are sometimes seen together. Leopards are mostly nocturnal, although in areas of low human disturbance they are frequently active during the day.

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Scientific name : Civettictis civetta

IUCN Status : LC (Least Concern)

Medium-sized carnivore with a long, shaggy coat and a stocky build, african civets are found in a large variety of habitats that offer suitable cover. Omnivorous, they feed on fruit, grass, invertebrates, reptiles, small mammals and birds. They are nocturnal and rarely seen during the day. They are solitary and their social behaviour is poorly known.

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Scientific name : Genetta genetta

IUCN Status : LC (Least Concern)

The common Genet has a small head, long ears and a long tail. The background colour is grey and the spots are small, rusty coloured or black. There is a large strip of black hairs on its back that can be raised into a crest when alarmed. It is found in open woodland and semi-arid bushland. It avoids areas of dense vegetation, but frequents area of human habitation. It is nocturnal and mainly solitary, occasionally seen in pairs. Its diet consists mainly of small mammals, but also reptiles, birds, invertebrates and fruits.

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Scientific name : Genetta servalina

IUCN Status : LC (Least Concern)

The servaline genet has short fur and numerous spots aligned tightly together over a light grey-yellow coat. The tail has 8-12 white and black stripes. It has a narrow face, relatively long legs and no dorsal crest. It is found in dense montane (up to 1.000m) forests. On Zanzibar it inhabits dense lowland forest and coral rag. This species is strictly nocturnal and is usually solitary, feeding mainly on rodents. Little is know about its behaviour.

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Scientific name : Atilax paludinosus

IUCN Status : LC (Least Concern)

A large, heavy bodied mongoose with black guard hairs, the Marsh mangooses are found in a variety of habitats, favourite haunts are marshes, riverbeds and estuaries. They are excellent swimmers and divers, solitary and nocturnal. They feed on a wide range of prey including crabs, snails, rodents, frogs and birds.

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Scientific name : Bdeogale crassicauda

IUCN Status : LC (Least Concern)

A medium-sized mangoose with a very bushy tail and four toes on the front and hind feet. Coat colour is usually black or dark brown. Legs and tail are black. It is found in areas of dense vegetation including lowland and montane forests. They are mostly insectivorous but also eat small rodents, amphibians and reptiles. They are solitary and strictly nocturnal.

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Scientific name : Bdeogale jacksoni

IUCN Status : NT (Near Threatened)

A large mongoose with a grizzled grey white body, black legs and a white bushy tail. It has round, broad ears and a blunt muzzle. In Tanzania, it is only known from lowland swamp forests with mixed evergreen and deciduous trees. It feeds primarily on invertebrates, especially ants but also rodents, birds, amphibians and reptiles. This species is solitary and strictly nocturnal, with most activity accuring between 07PM & midnight.

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Scientific name : Galerella sanguinea

IUCN Status : LC (Least Concern)

A small mongoose with a long, slender body and a long tail, this species inhabits a wide range of habitats including open savanna, swamps and dense forests, and is often seen in farmlands. It can climb trees for chasing prey or to escape when threatened. It is solitary and strictly nocturnal. It feeds mostly on invertebrates, small vertebrates, amphibians and reptiles.

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Scientific name : Helogale parvula

IUCN Status : LC (Least Concern)

The smallest carnivore in Africa. The fur is smooth and ranges in colour from light reddish grey to yellowish grey. The tail is the same colour as the body. It is found in a wide variey of savanna and woodlands habitats. It is strictly diurnal, social animal that lives in cohesive groups. In the Serengeti, groups size can be up to 21 individuals, led by one dominant breeding pair, and all group help feed and care for the youngs. It feed mostly on invertebrates.

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Scientific name : Herpestes Naso

IUCN Status : LC (Least Concern)

The long-nose mongoose lives near and around marshy habitats which allows them to feed on freshwater animals around their environment. The long-nose mongoose is dependent on a watery environment. It is is a solitary mongoose, unlike other mongooses that form in packs. The long-nosed mongoose is also a nocturnal animal.

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Scientific name : Mungos mungo

IUCN Status : LC (Least Concern)

A medium-sized mongoose with a pointed face, short tail and long legs. They have 10-15 dark and light stripes from shoulders to the base of the tail. Banded mongooseslive in a wide variety of habitats, are strictly diurnal and social, living in groups of 10 to 45 individuals. They feed on invertebrates but will also eat reptiles, amphibians, small mammals and fruit. They are highly vocal, and communicate constantly through a twittering call. Banded mongooses communally look after and protect the young, elderly, and injured. When threatened, banded mongooses gather in tight, compact groups to challenge the attackers, hissing loudly.

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Scientific name : Crocuta crocuta

IUCN Status : LC (Least Concern)

The hyena is Africa's most common large carnivore. Reputed to be cowardly and timid, the hyena can be bold and dangerous, attacking animals and humans. It is found in a wide variety of habitats including grassland, woodland and montane forest. Hyenas live in clans of up to 80 individuals with females socially dominant to males. Clan members frequently split in sub-groups or travel alone. The spotted hyena is a skillful hunter but also a scavenger, feeding on medium and large sized preys such as zebras, hartebeest and gazelles and they also eat fruit. They have massive and powerful jaws able to chew bones. They are mostly nocturnal or active at dawn and dusk.

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Scientific name : Hyaena hyaena

IUCN Status : NT (Near Threatened)

A hyena with long, shaggy hair, a large head and a back that slopes down to the hindquarters. The fur is white or grey white, with vertical black stripes on the back and horizontal stripes on the legs. The ears are long and pointed and the tailis white, long and bushy. Males are slightly larger than females. It occurs in dry, open habitat or acacia bushland to a max altitude of 3.300m. Mainly a carrion scavenger, it also feeds on small vertebrates, invertebrates and fruits. Their powerful jaws can crush bones. They are solitary when foraging but often rest in pairs or in small groups. During conflicts with other individuals, they will often erect their long mane hair, which can make their body size 30% larger than usual. They are non territorial, active throughout the night, and generally silent as they are not known to make the whooping call typical of the spotted hyena.

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Scientific name : Proteles crisdetata

IUCN Status : LC (Least Concern)

A small, jackal sized hyena, the Aardwolf is found in open grassland and bushland in arid areas. Its distribution is tied to availability of its food source. It feeds by licking termites off the soil surface and may consume as many as 300 000 termites in one night. It is mostly solitary and nocturnal, when its pray is active. The specy is monogamous and forms stable adult pairs. Average territory is 1-5km².

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Scientific name : Canis adustus

IUCN Status : LC (Least Concern)

This is the largest jackal in Tanzania. Body of dull gray colour, with a white side stripe. Legs are light grey brown and the underside of cream colour. It has a dog-like face with smal ears. The tail is mostly black with a distinctive white tip. This jackal can be found in a wide variery of habitats and have a varied diet consisting of fruits, seeds, small rodents, hares or gazelle fawns. They for a monogamous, territorial pair, even though family groups of up to 7 individuals can be seen. Home range is usually 12-20 km²

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Scientific name : Mellivora capensis

IUCN Status : LC (Least Concern)

A powerfully built, stocky carnivore with short, muscular legs and a short tail. The upperparts are white or grey surrounded by a white border, while the underparts are black. The front legs have large (4cm) claws. Anal glands secrete a smeling liquid when stressed, possibly as a defense mechanism. They occur in a wide range of habitats from dry open countries to grassland, agricultural lands and montane forests. They eat a wide variety of food including invertebrates, small mammals, birds and vegetation. They are generally seen alone or in pairs. The species has the reputation of being very aggressve and devoid of fear : they are known for stealing kills of adult male lions and bite car tyres.

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Scientific name : Otocyon megalotis

IUCN Status : LC (Least Concern)

A small fox with a long, bushy tail, a dense coat, and large, bat-like ears. The body is grizzled grey and the legs are black. The forehead is white and there’s a dark band around the eyes. The tail is light beige at the base a black at the tip. It is found in open grassland and woodland with enough cover. They feed mostly on termites and small invertebrates, rodents or fruits. They are nocturnal but sometimes active during the day. They live in stable family groups consisting of a male and up to 3 closely related females and cubs.

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Scientific name : Ictonyx striatus

IUCN Status : LC (Least Concern)

A small weaselwith long body hair and four distinctive black & white stripes running from the head to the tail. The underside and legs are black and the tail is mostly white. Males are 50% heavier than females. It is found in a wide variety of habitats including dense forests, open savannas, dry bushland and cultivated lands. It is solitary and strictly nocturnal. When disturbed, itwill erect the fur on body and tail, that will rise up in the air. It can also eject a smelling liquid from its anal glands, which is difficult to remove and can last for days. It feeds on rodents & invertebrates, and sometimes also amphibians, birds and reptiles including large snakes.

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