Mammalia is the class of warm-blooded animals which feed their young with milk from mammary glands. They also have hair and usually sweat glands.

Order Carnivora: Meat-eaters

One major, basic, and ancient division among the mammals is whether they eat meat or not. Those mammals for which meat is the main component of the diet are in the order Carnivora, and those which do not eat meat are in other orders. Carnivora includes the two basic types of dog-like (Caniformia) and cat-like (Feliformia). Among the animals we saw in Kenya, as well as the family Felidae (cats), the Feliformia includes the Hyaenidae (hyaenas) and Herpestidae (mongooses), and the only member of Caniformia we observed was the jackal.


Lion, Panthera leo

Leopard, Panthera pardus

Cheetah, Acinonyx jubatus

Spotted Hyaena, Crocuta crocuta

Slender Mongoose, Herpestes sanguineus

Black-backed Jackal, Canis mesomelas

Order Perissodactyla and Order Artiodactyla

Odd-toed and Even-toed Ungulates

Among the non-Carnivora, the hoofed animals (ungulates) are divided into two major groups which are classified by the form of their feet. Mammals originally had five digits on each foot, and many still do. In many others, some digits have become vestigial or disappeared completely, and the remaining digit(s) are greatly elongated, so the animal effectively walks or runs on tiptoe. Of these, one group puts its weight on one remaining toe - the third digit, the equivalent of the human middle finger. The other group puts its weight equally on two digits, the third and fourth digits. These are the split-hoofed animals.

The one-digit group is the order Perissodactyla, and has only the horses, rhinoceroses and tapirs as members.

The two-toed group is the Artiodactyla, and is a huge order.  The artiodactyla are divided into a number of families, of which the Bovidae, including the antelopes, buffalo, cows, goats and sheep is by far the largest (these are outlined on the next page). Other families we saw were the Suidae (pigs) and Hippopotamidae, which both have four remaining toes, two in front and two at the rear of each foot, and the Giraffidae, and the Camelidae.


White Rhinoceros, Cerototherium simium

Black Rhinoceros, Diceros bicornis

Common Zebra, Equus quagga

(also Equus burchelli)

(Donkey, Equus asinus)

Artiodactyla (Non-Bovidae):

Maasai Giraffe, Giraffa camelopordalis

Warthog, Phacocoerus africanus

Hippopotamus, Hippopotamus amphibius

(Camel, Camelus dromedarius)

(Domestic Goat, Capra aegagrus hircus)

(Domestic Sheep, Ovis aries)


Note: the cats and weasels are pure meat-eaters, but most Carnivora eat some fruit, or other plants, as well as things like insects. Some have developed to be omnivorous (bears) or even primarily herbivorous (panda), just as some non-Carnivora can eat meat (pigs).