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Centre for African Conservation Ecology

The earliest written records, supported by selected archaeological and palaeontological records, indicate that at the start of the historical period – around 1600 – the geopolitical areas that now constitute the countries of South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland (hereafter referred to, for convenience, as ‘South Africa’), together held a spectacular array of larger mammals. Here, the term ‘larger mammals’, is broadly defined as referring to those medium- to large-sized mammals that have a mass of more than about 4-5 kilograms.

Perusal of the book The Mammals of the Southern African Subregion by JD Skinner and CT Chimimba (2005) reveals that some 68 larger mammal species existed in 'South Africa' at this point in time. These are listed below:

  • aardvark
  • rock and tree hyraxes
  • African elephant
  • Cape porcupine
  • springhare
  • chacma baboon
  • vervet monkey and Sykes's (samango) monkey
  • ground pangolin
  • white rhinoceros and black rhinoceroses
  • true quagga, Cape mountain zebra and Burchell's/plains zebra
  • bushpig and common warthog
  • hippopotamus
  • giraffe
  • antelopes and African buffalo (greater kudu, nyala, bushbuck, eland, black wildebeest and blue wildebeests, red hartebeest, bontebok, blesbok, tsessebe, roan, sable, blue antelope, gemsbok, African buffalo, blue and red and common duikers, southern and mountain reedbucks, grey rhebok, springbok, oribi, steenbok, Cape and Sharpe's grysboks, suni, impala, klipspringer, waterbuck)
  • carnivores (aardwolf, brown and spotted hyaenas, cheetah, leopard, lion, caracal, African wild cat, black-footed cat, serval, bat-eared fox, African wild dog, Cape fox, side-striped and black-backed jackals, African clawless and spotted-necked otters, honey badger)

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Where in ' South Africa' did the larger mammals live?