Mammals of Africa

Atlas wild ass 'Equus africanus atlanticus,' an African wild ass with stripes on its legs and crossing its shoulders, here shown in a mosaic being attacked by a lion Roman mosaic of a gray elephant 'Loxodonta africana pharaohensis' with large ears, from Latium, Italy. Skeleton of Malagasy hippopotamus 'lemerlei skeleton' at the Museum für Naturkunde, Berlin. Male and female bluebuck 'Hippotragus leucophaeus,' a tan antelope with a dark forehead and long ribbed back-sweeping horns; illustration by Joseph Smit and Joseph Wolf. Roman mosaic of Atlas bear 'Ursus arctos crowtheri,' a brownish black bear from the Atlas mountains of Africa

Atlas wild ass

The Atlas wild ass was extinct by the year 300. The lack of remains leave it unclear how much it differed from donkeys and other African wild asses.

North African elephant

They say the famous war elephants that Carthage trained to charge and trample armies during the Punic Wars once roamed across northern Africa and down the eastern coast. The Romans could use them in their destructive pursuits, but no one could protect them to ensure their survival.

Malagasy hippopotamus

Three species of dwarf hippopotamus once lived with lemurs until after humans arrived on the island of Madagascar. * Hippopotamus lemerlei grew up to thirty inches tall, lived in rivers and lakes, and had eyes at the top of its head. Hippopotamus madagascariensis was about the same size, lived in forested highlands, and had eyes at the sides of its head. Hippopotamus laloumena was much larger but of this animal we have only a few bones.


The bluebuck grazed grasslands of southern Africa until it became extinct around 1800 from hunting and loss of grasslands.

Atlas bear

The Romans captured the Atlas bear, a large thousand-pound omnivore that preferred roots, acorns, and nuts. treated them cruelly and exhibited them in gladiatorial combat. Modern firearms and sport hunting exterminated them entirely.