The South African endangered species list includes two unusual antelope and the shy, gentle samango monkey. They became endangered because their specialised habitat is changing. But conservation interventions are underway to safeguard and increase their numbers.

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Oribi seem to co-exist happily with cattle in their preferred grassland habitat.

An unexpected candidate for South Africa's endangered species list is the oribi. They have long been a common sight on the KwaZulu-Natal grasslands, favouring areas where they can hide in long grass.

These are distinctive antelope, coppery-coloured with white bellies, black noses and black tails. They have a strange gait, a kind of rocking horse gallop, and sometimes leap in the air in a strange stiff-legged stott, a territorial display.

Habitat change, and careless hunting, have cut their numbers down to perilously low levels, but many private landowners are providing sanctuaries and helping to conserve the species.

Tsessebe antelope numbers also precipitously tumbled for various reasons and they are now one of the endangered species of South Africa. Found mostly in the northern reaches of the country, these are also the greyhounds of the antelope world, though you'd never guess it to look at them.

They are related to wildebeest, and have a certain purplish sheen to their coats. When standing still or walking, they can look quite ungainly. But if startled by a predator, these very quiet animals will let out a loud snort and show danger a clean pair of heels. Typically, they'll then stop and watch to see if they're still being followed. They too, are being conserved by private landowners.

Another of South Africa's endangered species is the gentle samango monkey. It lives in indigenous forests hugging South Africa's eastern coastline, from northern KwaZulu-Natal right through to the Eastern Cape.

At first glance it may look like the more common vervet monkey, but samangos (also called blue monkeys) are bigger, with prominent brows, and longer tails. The fragmentation of their forest habitat has led to samangos being placed on the list of South African endangered animals. But there are efforts underway to create links between forests and so ensure their survival.

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Who to contact

Endangered Wildlife Trust
Tel: +27 (0) 11 372 3600/1/2/3
Fax: +27 (0) 11 608 4682

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