found birds peculiar cape
AFRICA SPECIES Of Edentata the seven species known to occur in Africa are also peculiar to it. The aardwark (Orycteropus capensis) is essentially burrowing in its habits; and the burrows formed by these animals are the source of frequent danger to the waggons and horses of the Cape colonists.
A genus of moles is met with in South Africa, but is not found in the tropical regions. The Cape or gilded mole, chryso-chlore, is so called from its iridescent glossy fur; two or three species of hedgehog occur in the continent, and Madagascar has a peculiar family resembling these in appearance, but without the power of rolling up into a ball for defence. Bats are numerous in Africa, but few are peculiar to it.
Of Rodents the burrowing kinds prevail. The African species of porcupine are known in the northern and western coast-lands and in South-Eastern Africa. The hyrax extends over Eastern Africa and a portion of the west coast. Hares are only known in the countries north of the Sahara and in the Cape colony. Among squirrels, those with bristles or spines in their fur are peculiar to the southern regions of the continent.
The ornithology of Africa presents a close analogy in many of its species to those of Europe and South Asia. Thus, on its northern coasts, there is scarcely a single species to be found which does not also occur in the other countries bordering on the Mediterranean. The ornithology of the region of the Nile and the northern coasts is identified with that of Arabia, Persia, and Spain. The deserts are inhabited by species adapted to its solitudes; while Southern Africa presents different species.
The ostrich, the hugest of birds, which has been described as the feathered camel, or the giraffe among birds, is found in almost every part of Africa. But its chief home is the desert and the open plains; mountainous districts-it avoids, unless pressed by hunger. The beautiful white feathers, so highly prized by the ladies of Europe, are found in the wings of the male bird. The chase is not without its difficulties, and it requires the greatest care to get within musket-shot of the bird, owing to its constant vigilance and the great distance to which it can see. The fleetest horse, too, will not overtake it unless stratagem be adopted to tire it out. If followed up too eagerly, the chase of the ostrich is not destitute of danger; for the huntsman has sometimes had his thigh-bone broken by a single stroke from the leg of a wounded bird.
The large messenger or secretary-bird, which preys upon serpents and other reptiles, is one of the most remarkable African birds. It is common near the Cape, and is not seldom domesticated. Of gallinaceous fowls, adapted to the poultry-yard, Africa possesses but a single genus, the guinea-hens, which, however, are found in no other part of the world. These birds, of which there are three or four distinct species, go in large flocks of 400 or 500, and are most frequently found among underwood in the vicinity of ponds and rivers. There are, besides, many species of partridges and quails in different parts of Africa. Water fowl et' various species are also abundant on the lakes, and rivers. as are likewise various species of owls, falcons, and vultures, the latter of which are highly useful in consuming the offal and carrion, which might otherwise taint the air and produce disease.
Among the smaller birds of Africa are many species remarkable for the gaudiness and brilliancy of their plumage, or the singularity of their manners and economy. Of the former kind may be mentioned the sunbirds, the lamprotornis, the bee-eaters, the rollers, the plantain-eaters, the parrots, the halcyons, and numerous smaller birds that swarm in the forests. Of the latter kind it will be sufficient to mention the honey-cuckoo (Cuculus indicator).
Though Africa is not exempt from the scourge of venomous or dangerous reptiles, still it has comparatively fewer than other tropical countries, owing to the dryness of the climate. The reptiles harboured by the desert regions consist chiefly of harmless lizards and serpents of a small size, though often venomous. The frog and tortoise tribes are represented in but few species and numbers.
The most important among the reptiles is the crocodile, which inhabits nearly all the large rivers and lakes within the tropics, and is still abundant in the Nile below the first cataract.