What are the different kinds of PREDATORS found in Senegal?
These are often the first animals you think of when you imagine visiting Senegal! The exciting, beautiful, and sometimes terrifying carnivores are some of the most fun to learn about. 🙂
In this article, you’ll find interesting facts, photos, and even range maps of these amazing animals!
10 Predators Found in Senegal:
- Panthera leo
- Adults are 160-208 cm (63-82 in) long.
- They have short tawny coats, white undersides, and long tails with black tufts at the ends.
- Males have manes, while females do not.
These predators range throughout savannas and plains in Senegal.
They prefer areas with plenty of cover and prey. In the past, lions had a much larger range, and some populations still live in semi-desert, forested, shrubby, and mountainous habitats.
Though intimidating, lions aren’t very effective hunters on their own. Instead, lions usually hunt in groups, called prides, to take down large herbivores like zebras, impalas, gazelles, wildebeests, giraffes, and cape buffalo.
Lions live in groups called prides which range from 2-40 individuals, though they are rarely all together at once. Female pride members are all related, as females don’t leave their mother’s territories. Females don’t have a dominance hierarchy and instead work together to find food and care for each other’s cubs.
On the other hand, males are generally forced out of their father’s territory at about 2.5 years of age, roam for two to three years, and then attempt to take over a pride by seriously injuring or killing the current leaders and their cubs. While we often picture one male as the “king,” male lions sometimes form coalitions of 2-4 males to take over a pride. These coalitions are often brothers, and the larger the coalition, the longer they’ll be able to reign over their pride.
While they don’t have natural predators, lions are still susceptible to starvation and attacks from humans. Their worldwide populations have declined significantly throughout their range. Sadly, some subspecies of lions are critically endangered, and some are already extinct.
- Panthera pardus
- Adults are 92-183 cm (36-72 in) long.
- They have relatively short heads and long bodies, broad heads, small round ears, and long whiskers.
- Adults may be tawny, light yellow, reddish-orange, or black, and they often have black rosettes on their faces and bodies and black rings on their tails.
Leopards have the most varied coloring of any predator in Senegal.
In fact, individuals’ coat coloring is so unique it can be used to identify individuals like fingerprints. Their color patterns help these carnivores to remain camouflaged in various habitats.
Individuals found in dry habitats tend to be lighter than those living in dense forests. Interestingly, the shape of their spots seems to be determined by location. For example, leopards living in eastern Africa have circular spots, while those in southern Africa tend to have square spots. Occasionally, solid black leopards are found in humid forests.
This excellent camouflage is essential as leopards are ambush predators. They approach prey while remaining hidden, crouched low to the ground, and then pounce before the animal has a chance to react. These big cats have tremendous strength and can tackle prey up to ten times their own weight!
Leopards have incredible athletic ability, which is one reason they are an apex predator in Senegal. They can swim, climb trees and descend from them head first, run at bursts of 60 kph (36 mph), and jump 6 m (20 ft) horizontally and 3 m (10 ft) vertically. This is one carnivore that would break every record in gym class! 🙂
Sadly, leopard populations are declining due to habitat loss, range fragmentation, and hunting. Today, they are listed as near threatened on the IUCN Red List of Endangered Species.
#3. Spotted Hyena
- Crocuta crocuta
- Adults are 95–166 cm (37–65 in) long.
- They have sandy yellowish or gray course, wooly coats with black or dark brown spots on their bodies though these may be absent in old individuals.
- They are strongly built with massive necks, large heads, rounded ears, bushy-tipped tails, and longer front legs than back legs.
Spotted Hyenas are some of the most unique predators in Senegal!
These odd animals live in clans of 3-80 hyenas. Females lead the clans, and all of the females within the clan are dominant over all males. Males and females, there are separate dominance hierarchies.
One of the strangest features about these carnivores is that males and females are very difficult to distinguish. Females have skin and tissue in their genital area that allows them to mimic males, which may protect females from aggression from other females.
Female Spotted Hyenas are incredibly dedicated mothers. Incredibly, they nurse their young until 12 to 16 months of age. By the time the young are weaned, they already have all of their adult teeth which is very rare among carnivorous animals in Senegal.
Spotted Hyenas have a reputation as cowardly scavengers that steal food from other predators, but researchers have found that they kill most of their prey. Despite their odd, sloped appearance, hyenas are incredible runners and will chase prey for long distances at speeds up to 65 kph (40 mph). They usually work in groups to take down large animals.
Although Spotted Hyenas are not currently endangered, they are “Conservation dependent,” meaning that there are currently programs in place to protect them. If the conservation efforts were removed, their populations would begin to decline within five years.
#4. Banded Mongoose
- Mungos mungo
- Adults are 30-45 cm (12-18 in) long.
- They have large heads, long tails, small ears, short, muscular limbs, five toes on their front feet with long, curved claws, and four toes on their back feet with shorter, heavier claws.
- They have course brownish-gray coats with dark bands on their backs, dark feet, black-tipped tails, and gray-brown to orange noses.
These cat-like predators live in varied habitats in Senegal.
Look for the Banded Mongoose in grasslands, woodlands, brushlands, and rocky country. They have large ranges, and individuals may travel more than 8 km (5 m) per day while foraging.
They’re primarily insectivores, feeding on termites, earthworms, grasshoppers, scorpions, slugs, and snails, but they’ll also feed on fruit, snakes, crabs, eggs, birds, and rodents. To break hard food like eggs and snails, they throw it at another hard object like a rock.
Banded Mongooses are social and usually live in packs of 10-20 individuals. That said, they’re very possessive of their food and eat it immediately without sharing. Typically, there is one dominant male in each pack.
Incredibly, mating is often synchronized so that the pack’s young are all born within a few days of each other. The entire pack will help care for the young, and lactating females will nurse any baby.
When it’s time to hunt, a few females stay behind to look after the young. Despite this careful guarding, only about 50% of young mongooses make it to 3 months of age.
#5. Honey Badger
- Mellivora capensis
- Adults are 55–77 cm (22–30 in) long.
- They have stocky bodies, large heads, small eyes, strong, wide forefeet, small hind feet with short claws, muscular necks and shoulders, and thick, loose skin.
- Their color varies with subspecies, but generally, their lower half is black, and they have an upper mantle of gray or bright white.
Honey Badgers are one of the toughest carnivores in Senegal!
They have a reputation for being able to live anywhere, eat anything, and survive no matter what. Look for these resourceful creatures in forests, grasslands, woodlands, deserts, rocky hills, and arid steppes. You’re likely to find them near sheltered spots like burrows and rock crevices.
Their diet is as varied as their habitat. Honey Badgers are opportunistic foragers whose menu changes with the season and prey availability. They frequently prey on snakes, birds, eggs, frogs, and small rodents.
As their name suggests, they’re also known for raiding honey bee hives to eat the larvae and honey inside. While they are primarily carnivores, Honey Badgers also enjoy fruits, roots, and bulbs.
Honey Badgers are known for their aggressive nature. Males will ferociously defend their territory and mate from other males. Naturalists sometimes refer to older adult males as “scar backs” because they usually have a noticeable patch of scars on their backs from conflicts.
The video below is one of my favorites and shows how TOUGH Honey Badgers are! Seriously, you have to watch until the end.
#6. African Wolf
- Canis lupaster
- Adults stand about 40 cm (16 in) tall at the shoulder.
- They have relatively long pointed snouts and ears, comparatively short tails, and robust teeth.
- They’re yellowish to silvery gray with reddish legs, black speckling on their tails and shoulders, and some white markings on their faces, throats, and abdomens.
Look for this carnivore during the day in Senegal in grassland areas.
African Wolves have an extensive range, and their appearance and size vary with location. They usually center their territory around a den, often made from a modified aardvark or warthog den, where the female will have her pups.
African Wolves have flexible social structures that are largely dictated by prey availability. Each pack consists of a monogamous breeding pair that remains together constantly. It also includes current offspring and previous generations that help to raise their siblings.
These wolves can be formidable predators in Senegal, sometimes taking prey up to three times their own weight. However, they usually go after much smaller animals.
Pairs of wolves often hunt gazelle fawns and other small mammals like cane rats and ground squirrels. They also consume fruit, snakes, and insects. Interestingly, during the wildebeest calving season, African Wolves feed almost exclusively on wildebeest afterbirth.
- Leptailurus serval
- Adults are 67-100 cm (26–39 in) long.
- They have the longest ears and legs in the cat family relative to their size.
- They have a coppery, golden-yellow, or buff coat with some white on their faces and undersides, black tail and ear tips, black rings on their tail, and various black stripes and spots on their bodies.
These predators in Senegal are known for their playful nature!
Servals have a kitten-like personality. Both young and adult Servals sometimes play with their food like domestic cats. They may throw animals into the air or let them scurry away a bit before catching them again.
They hunt by using their large ears and acute hearing to locate prey, sometimes remaining motionless for up to 15 minutes while they listen. Servals can pounce on prey from more than 4m (13 ft) away! These athletic cats have also been observed jumping 1.5 m (5 ft) into the air after birds.
Servals are solitary creatures that spend most of their time in reed beds and grasslands but will also roam through bamboo thickets, forest brush, streams, and marshes. They’re crepuscular, spending most of their time hunting in the morning and evening, though Servals living close to human populations often become nocturnal.
Although they’ve become popular with some people as pets, these wild carnivores are not domesticated animals and shouldn’t be taken from the wild or purchased. Most countries regulate ownership of them, and they can be just as dangerous as any other wild animal. Observe from a distance!
#8. Side-striped Jackal
- Lupulella adusta
- Adults are 69-81 cm (27-32 in) long.
- They are heavily built and have shorter legs and ears than other jackal species.
- Coloration is buff-gray with a darker gray back and a blackish tail with a white or almost silver tip.
Look for these predators in moist habitats in Senegal.
Side-striped Jackals live in swamps, marshes, humid savannas, and wooded areas up to 2,700 m (8,800 ft) above sea level.
They’re strictly nocturnal, so they can be hard to spot, but you may hear them calling out at night. These canines are incredibly vocal creatures that make various noises, including yipping to communicate with other jackals, screaming when threatened or wounded, and an owl-like hoot, which sets them apart from other jackal species.
Unlike others, Side-striped Jackals are true omnivorous scavengers. While their diet often varies with location and season, they commonly feed on insects, small vertebrates, fruit, carrion, and plant material. They occasionally kill small prey like rats or birds, but they never run down prey, spending more time feeding on the leftovers from other large predators.
Sadly, massive trapping and poisoning efforts have damaged the population of these animals. Side-striped Jackals have also been seriously impacted by rabies and distemper epidemics. While they’re rare in much of their range, they are not endangered and have been given some protection at national parks.
#9. African Civet
- Civettictis civetta
- Adults are 67–84 cm (26–33 in), with a 34–47 cm (13–19 in) long tail.
- They have large hindquarters, low heads, and short manes that extend down their backs.
- Coloration is silverish or cream with black or brown markings and spots, a black raccoon-like face mask, and white neck stripes.
If you see this predator in Senegal, you might not know exactly what you’re looking at!
African Civets are incredibly unique. They have some similar features to raccoons and cats but aren’t related to either. Their large hindquarters and extended mane are dead giveaways that you have found an African Civet.
These unusual-looking animals will live in both forested and open areas, but they need plenty of cover for hunting and hiding from larger animals. For example, in open areas, they require tall stands of grasses or thickets to shelter in during the daytime.
African Civets are primarily nocturnal but occasionally move around during the morning or evening of cloudy days. They’re secretive and solitary except when they come together to breed.
Despite being a relatively shy animal, they can become a nuisance to farmers. Occasionally, they go after poultry and young lambs. When catching live prey, they overpower it with their teeth rather than their paws.
- Caracal caracal
- Adults are 78–108 cm (31–43 in) long.
- Coloration is red to brown with white undersides adorned with many small spots and black facial markings.
- They have robust builds, disproportionately long, muscular back legs, short faces, long tufted ears, and short tails.
These predators are nearly impossible to spot in Senegal.
Caracals are nocturnal and generally very secretive. These medium-sized cats live in a range of habitats, including plains, rocky hills, scrub forests, woodlands, and thickets. They love edge habitats, especially the transition between forest and grasslands.
Caracals are highly athletic, capable carnivores that can take down prey three times their size. They’re also known for their incredible bird-snaring leaps into the air. To hunt, they rely on stealth to get close to prey and then pounce on it, using their muscular back legs.
They’re also perfectly capable of avoiding predation. When they sense a threat, they often lie flat and use their coloring to blend in with the ground and go unnoticed. They’re also agile climbers that can escape lions and other large predators by climbing into trees. If all else fails, they’re known to chase off predators twice their size.
Unfortunately, the one predator they can’t go up against is humans. They’re frequently killed by farmers and ranchers for feeding on small livestock.
Check out these other guides about animals found in Senegal!
Which of these predators have you seen before in Senegal?
Leave a comment below!