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South Africa is a diverse region encompassing forests, mountains, deserts and grasslands. It is home to 200 species of mammals, 112 species of freshwater fish, 100 species of snakes and 850 bird species. In addition, South Africa was once inhabited by many fascinating mammals who are now extinct.
Powerful Hunters Forever Gone
The cape lion originated in the region of Cape Province and was hunted into extinction by Dutch and English settlers. The last known cape lion was killed in 1858. Male cape lions were known for the thick mane framing their face and neck. Thick, black mane also was seen hanging from his abdomen. They were tall, stately and dignified in appearance. These lions hunted antelope, buffalo, zebras and giraffes. Weak and elderly lions also would attack humans.
The bluebuck was a large antelope with ears the size of a donkey and almost no mane. His coat appeared to be blue in color. This was due either to dark skin showing through the coat or the blending of black and yellow hair. The bluebuck preferred to live in the open grasslands or swamps of South Africa and is believed to have had an average life span of 18 years. The breed faced swift extinction after the arrival of European settlers in the 17th century. Settlers hunted the bluebuck relentlessly and destroyed its native habitat by developing it into farmland. The bluebuck is believed to have become completely extinct by the beginning of the 18th century.
Extinct Without Any Notice
The quagga was a subspecies of the plains zebra. The animal stood slightly more than 4 feet tall and had stripes only on his head, neck and front. The rest of his body was solid brown. The name quagga was adapted from the language of the Hottentot people of South Africa. The word mimicked the sound these zebras made. The breed disappeared into extinction before anyone realized it was endangered. The quagga was identified as a distinct species in 1788. During the next several decades scientists studied numerous zebras but had not devised a system to clearly distinguish species and subspecies. Before a system was put in place the quagga was extinct. African farmers hunted the quagga for meat and his hide, which was used to make leather. The last wild quagga was shot in the 1870s while the final species died in 1883 in a zoo in Amsterdam.
Two More Lost Species
The Eastwood's longtailed seps, also known as the Eastwood's whip lizard was a small lizard who used to inhabit the open grasslands of South Africa. As this area was turned into farming, destroying the lizard's natural habitat, it became extinct. The cape warthog, phacochoerus aethiopicus aethiopicus, is a wild pig that became extinct in South Africa during the 1870s.
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