Order of Artiodactyla: Species, Characteristics and their Economic Importance

The Artiodactyla are called ‘even – toed’ ungulates. This is because the body weight rests only on two (third and fourth) or one four digits (second to fifth) of each foot. They occur throughout the country and exhibit great diversity in size and structure. They are herbivores, which feed on grasses and herbs (grazers) or shrubs and trees (browsers). Two out of the three sub-orders under this order. These are:

a. Suiformes that comprises the pigs (family suidae) abd

hippopotamuses (family Hippopotamidae).

b. Ruminantia which includes the Giraffe (family Giraffidae), the

water chevrotain (family Tragulidae), and the African Buffalo and Antelopes (family Bovidae).

Order Artiodactyla

Members of this order occur throughout the country and exhibit great diversity in size and structure. They usually form large biomass. All are herbivores feeding on grasses (grazers) or shrubs and trees (browsers).

Due to their generally large size and abundance they may have marked effect on local vegetation. The members of this important order, unfortunately, are now uncommon as a result of overhunting, poaching and destruction of their natural habitat.

They are sub-divided into three sub-orders but only two of these (Suiformes and Ruminantia) are found.

The members of the sub-order suiformes are non-ruminants having simple stomachs while the ruminantia are ruminants having complicated digestive systems. The stomach is three chambered (Tragulidae) or four chambered.

Common Artiodactyls

The characteristic features of the common members of the order artiodactyla are the following. Four well-known species discribed in the order Carnivora (Carnivores) are the Hyaena (Crocuta crocuta), Lion (Panthera leo), the Leopard (Panthera pardus) and the Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus).

1. Warthog (Phacochoerus aethiopicus)

 Order of Artiodactyla: Species, Characteristics and their Economic Importance
Warthog (Phacochoerus africanus) in natural habitat.

Identification: The warthog is a large pig with an enormous head and well developed tusks. Males larger and heavier than females. Skin grey, with sparse scattered bristles; more of elongated bristles on dorsal surface of neck and shoulders. Head large relative to body, with flattened nose, long muzzle, large roundish warts on side of head below
eyes and on side of muzzle.

Curved tusks (elongated canine teeth) extend upwards and outwards from side of mouth, often forming a semi-circle. Ears and eyes small. Body elongated; legs short, each ending in four digits with small hoofs. Tail long and hairless, with tuft of coarse bristles at tip, tail usually held up vertically when running and walking.

Warthogs live in the savannah habitat having preference for flood plains, riverine forests, and other places close to water. They have poor eyesight, good hearing and outstanding sense of smell. They live in small family groups consisting of females with their young; mature males are usually solitary. Group size ranges from 1-9. The warthog is strictly diurnal. They breed throughout the year.

2. Hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibius)

Identification: The hippopotamus is an enormous semi-aquatic mammal with a large head, solid barrel shaped body and short thickset legs. Skin brownish grey, turning to pink at muzzle, around eyes and on throat; hairless except on muzzle and inner surface of ears. Head large
and broad; mouth with large gape capable of opening to at least 900.

Slit like nostrils on upper surface of muzzle; orbit protrude above the line of head, often only nostrils, eyes and ears are visible when hippopotamuses are in the water. Lower canine well developed to form small tusks, usually invisible unless the mouth is open.

Limbs short; feet large and flat, each ending in four wide digits. Tail relatively short, with small terminal tuft of bristles.

Hippopotamus are large animals weighing 2 to 3,000kg on average. Hippos are mainly aquatic animals. During the day, they remain almost submerged in water thus preventing the skin (that lack sweat gland) from drying out. They live in ‘schools’ which contain males, females and young.

3. Giraffe (Giraff acamelopardalis)

Identification: Large size, relatively small body, long legs, very long neck, and sloping back. Dorsal pelage, flanks and neck beige or sandy with large bold chestnut-brown patches; ventral pelage paler with or without faint light brown patches.

Pattern of patches is unique to each individual. Head elongated with large fleshy lips, and two short stumpy horns covered with skin and hair. Limbs long and slender with small brown irregular patches on upper half and without patches on lower half. Limbs terminate with two hooved digits. Tail short, with tuft of long
dark hairs at tip.

The giraffe is the tallest of all living mammals. The neck and legs are extremely long, and small horns covered with skin and hairs protrude from the top of the skull. Giraffe live in small groups or herds containing fever than 10 individuals although past records show herds of 40-50 individuals.

4. African Buffalo (Syn ceruscaffer)

Identification: Body large and barrel-shaped; legs thickset; tail long with tuft hairs at tip. Males usually larger and heavier than female. A large heavily-built herbivore resembling domestic cattle. Body hair sparse, pelage colour black, brown, rufous (or reddish) brown to light brown; individuals of different colours occur in a single population.

Head with wide forehead, hairless muzzle, and large outwardly projecting ears with fringe of hairs on lower edge. Horns in both sexes, heavy and flattened, with a broad boss covering most of the top of the head; horns extend outwards, upwards and slightly backwards, curling inwards at tip.

Buffaloes are entirely herbivorous. They live in herds which vary in size. The size and composition of herds change frequently; large herds split into smaller herds which may rejoin later. Large herds usually contain males, females, and young or only young males. Buffaloes are diurnals and nocturnal but rest under shade during the day. The gestation period is about 300 days and the young are born singly. More young are born in the middle of the dry season (January) than at other times.

5. Bush Buck (Tragelaphus scriptus)

Identification: A medium-sized antelope with short, dense, rufous to bright chestnut pelage, boldly patterned with white stripes and spots. Six to seven vertical white stripes and two horizontal stripes on each side of body; white spot on each cheek and above each foot; two white patches on lower part of neck, and white spots on upper parts of hind limbs.

Head with darkish band from muzzle to crown; ears large and mobile with dark band on inner surface and fringe of white hairs on front edge. Horns in males only, extending slightly backwards and outwards with half to one spiral, turning forwards at tip. Underside of tail white. The West African bushbuck is sometimes called the ‘Harnessed Antelope’ because the bold white marking hook like a harness.

Read Also: Order of Carnivora and Perissodactyla: Species, Characteristics and their Economic Importance

Bushbuck usually live single or in pairs and only occasionally are three or four individuals seen together. A single young is born after a gestation period of about 120days. After parturition mothers hide their young.

6. Giant Eland (Taurotragusderbianus)

Identification: A very large (680kg) heavily-built antelope with long spiral horns. Pelage rufous to rufous-grey, with 12-14 white vertical stripes on each side of body. Small crest of black hairs on mid-dorsal line from back of head to middle of back. Head large with white lips,
large broad rounded ears, and bright rufous patch on head. Long straight horns in both sexes, diverging slightly outwards with two or three well-developed spirals. Dewlap of varying size on vertical surface of neck. Black patches on posterior surface of forelimbs and on all limbs close to
hoofs. Tail long with well developed black terminal tuft.

Giant Eland are timid, nocturnal animals. They feed at night and usually rest in the shade during the day. They have excellent senses of smell and hearing. Giant eland live in herds. Herd size ranges between 3 and 20, but herds of 20-100 individuals have been observed in the field. One young is born after a gestation period of about 270 days.

7. Maxwell’s Duiker (Cephalophus maxwelli)

Identification: A small lightly-built duiker with slate-grey to grey-brown pelage; paler on neck, chest, and ventral surface. No white pelage on neck, chest, vertical surface, buttocks and anal region. Head pointed with dark muzzle, whitish-grey stripes; small dark head tuft.

Slit-like opening of sub-orbital gland very conspicuous below each eye. Horns in both sexes, small and pointed. Tail dark and bushy, fringed with white hairs. The pedal gland in the foot lies in a sac at the end of a narrow canal.

Maxwell’s duikers are wary and nocturnal although they are partly diurnal in activity. Duiker often rubs secretions from the suborbital gland on twigs and low growing branches in order to mark territories.

Sometimes mutual marking of two individuals occur (usually between male and females). Maxwell’s duikers live singly or in pairs in home ranges that do not overlap. One young is born after a gestation period of about 120 days. Young are capable of standing and walking within a
few hours of birth. Maturity is attained at about three years. Breeding is probably once a year.

8. Kob (Kobus kob)

Identification: A medium-sized antelope with short golden-brown pelage. Ventral pelage white. Head golden-brown with black muzzle, whitish patch around each eye, white on lips and chin; large laterally placed ears, white on inner surface, brown on outer surface.

Horns in males only, long and S-shaped in side view, extending upwards, then backward, and finally upward, again at tip, wider at tips than at base; heavily ringed at base.

White patch on throat. Limbs similar in colour to body, black on front edge of forelimbs. Tail thin; dark on upper surface, white on under surface, with terminal tuft.

Kob are active during the day and night and do not necessarily seek shade during the hottest part of the day. Kobs are exclusively grazers. Kobs are frequently seen in herds. Male and females are seen singly but the majority live in herds which ranges between 2 and 32 in number.

Some adult males establish individual territories during the breeding season and mate with any adult female which enter these territories. Herds of females and young are allowed inside the territorial boundaries while single males and bachelor herds are excluded. Young are born
single after a gestation period of 180 days, ending in most months of the year.

9. Roan Antelope (Hippotragusequinus)

Identification: The Roan Antelope is probably the most magnificent antelope of the Nigerian savannahs. Body large (227-272kg), heavily-built with heavy forequarters, thick deep-set neck, and long, relatively thin limbs. Dorsal pelage beige or dark tan with short chestnut-brown mane on neck.

Ventral pelage white, with black on chest in some individuals. Head large, mostly black or dark with white lips and chin, white stripe in front of each eye from base of horns to cheek; short white stripe between eye and base of ear.

Ears long and thin, white on inner surface, dark tuftof hairs on tip. Horns on both sexes, long, heavily ringed on basal half, rising upwards and backwards in smooth scimitar-shaped curve; horns in males larger than in females. Tail with long black terminal tuft.

Roan Antelope live in savanna woodland up to 15km from water. They are browsers and grazers. Solitary individuals are frequently seen, and herds of up to 20 animals have been observed in the field. The litter size is one after a gestation period of about 270 days.

Read Also: Order of Rodents: Species, Characteristics and their Economic Importance

Have you visited our Market Place Today? Follow this link to visit Agric4profits.com Market Place now to check out our affordable products & services that might interest you and solve your current needs at a very cheap price.

Benadine Nonye

An Agric. Consultant & a Writer (With over 12 years of professional experience in the agricultural industry) - National Diploma in Agricultural Technology - Bachelor's Degree in Agricultural Science - Master's Degree in Science Education... Visit My Websites On: Agric4profits.com - It's All About Agriculture, The Way Forward! Agric4profit.com - The Most Reliable Global Agricultural Forum! Agric4profit.com.ng - The Most Reliable Nigeria's Agricultural Job Board! TheAgriPedia.com - For Everything Premium Agriculture! WealthinWastes.com - For Proper Waste Management and Recycling Practices. Join Me On: Twitter: @benadinenonye - Instagram: benadinenonye - LinkedIn: benadinenonye - YouTube: Agric4ProfitsTV - Pinterest: BenadineNonye4u - Facebook: BenadineNonye

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *