TU-BERLIN

Zur Erforschung der 'Western Desert of Egypt'
Ecological Studies in the Libyan Desert of Egypt and N-Sudan -
Vegetation ecology of the Sahara

Zusammengestellt von Dr. Harald Kehl - TU-Berlin, Fak. VI, Inst. f. Ökologie
(Compiled by Dr. Harald Kehl - TU-Berlin, Fak. VI, Inst. f. Ökologie)

LV-TWK-Kehl
 
back Lecture: Vegetation ecology of tropical and subtropical climates
D2/1-23
   
Friendly and unfriendly meetings in the Western Desert of Egypt:
 
 
Scorpion (Egyptian Green Scorpion) - Buthacus leptochelys Ehremberg 1828:
E-Sahara / NW-Egypt / Mersa Matruh district
"This genus must be considered very cautiously by the keeper. Indeed, since the Buthacus spp are extremely aggressive, and belong to the Buthidae family, known for the dangerousness of most of its members, keeping this genus is really inadvisable to the beginners."

"5-6 cm. The adult of this species is uniformly yellow (body, legs and metasoma).
Pectines of the female with 21 to 29 teeth, male's ones with 29 to 35 teeth."
The Scorpion Fauna [date of access 19.12.2006]
 
 
Tanzania Flower Mantis - Pseudocreoboter wahlbergii
E-Sahara / Central-Egypt / near Dakhla oasis / Abu Tartur region
on Tamarix aphylla
 
 

Changeable, Desert or Toad Agama - Trapelus mutabilis Merrem 1820:
E-Sahara / NW-Egypt / Mersa Matruh district / coastal area

For detailled information cf. Baha El Din, Sherif (2006) A Guide to the Reptiles and Amphibians of Egypt.- Amer. Univ. in Cairo Press, 359pp.

 
 

Unknown Agama - cf. Pseudotrapelus sinaitus:
E-Sahara / Central-Egypt / Farafra district / White Desert

For detailled information cf. Baha El Din, Sherif (2006) A Guide to the Reptiles and Amphibians of Egypt.- Amer. Univ. in Cairo Press, 359pp.

 
 

Desert Horn-Viper - Cerastes cerastes L. 1798:
E-Sahara / NW-Egypt / Siwa district / Qattara Depression

"Cerastes cerastes is a venomous viper species native to the deserts of Northern Africa and parts of the Middle East. They are ore often easily recognized by the presence of a pair of supraocular horns, although hornless individuals do occur. No subspecies are currently recognized. [...]
C. cerastes venom is not very toxic, although it is reported to be similar in action to Echis venom.[...] Envenomation usually causes swelling, hemorrhage, necrosis, nausea, vomiting and hematuria. A high phospholipase A2 content may cause cardiotoxicity and myotoxicity[...]. Studies of venom from both C. cerastes and C. vipera list a total of eight venom fractions, the most powerful of which has hemorrhagic activity. Venom yields vary, with anything from 19-27 mg dried venom to 100 mg being reported.[...] An estimated lethal dose for humans is 40-50 mg."

Wikipedia [date of access 19.12.2006]

 
 

Common or European Chameleon - Chamaeleo chamaeleon L. 1758:
E-Sahara / NW-Egypt / Siwa district / Qattara Depression

"(The) small- to medium-sized lizard of the family Chamaeleonidae. About eighty species are found in sub-Saharan Africa, with a few in S Asia. The so-called common chameleon, Chamaeleo chamaeleon, is found around the Mediterranean. Chameleons have laterally flattened bodies and bulging, independently rotating eyes. They are variously ornamented with crests, horns, and spines. The toes are united into one bunch on either side of the foot, forming a pair of grasping tongs. Chameleons feed on small animals, chiefly insects, and they are unique among lizards in possessing very long, sticky tongues with which they capture their prey. Typical chameleons (members of the very large genus Chamaeleo) are arboreal and have long, prehensile tails. They move very slowly, with a rocking movement, grasping a branch with feet and tail. The changes in skin color, seen in certain other lizards as well, are under hormonal and nervous control. They are not affected by the color of the background but by stimuli such as light, temperature, and emotion. However, the shades of brown, gray, and green assumed by chameleons do generally blend with the forest surroundings. The American chameleon, or anole (Anolis carolinensis), is not a true chameleon, but a small lizard of the iguana family, found in the SE United States and noted for its color changes. True chameleons are classified in the phylum Chordata Chordata (kôrda-`t?,–dä`–), phylum of animals having a notochord, or dorsal stiffening rod, as the chief internal skeletal support at some stage of their development."

ColumbiaFreeEncyclopedia [date of access 19.12.2006]

For detailled information cf. Baha El Din, Sherif (2006) A Guide to the Reptiles and Amphibians of Egypt.- Amer. Univ. in Cairo Press, 359pp.

 
 

Common Wall Gecko, Moorish Gecko, Crocodile Gecko - Tarentola mauretanicus L.:
E-Sahara / NW-Egypt / Mersa Matruh district / coastal area

Distribution: Costal Mediterranean Regions - Portugal, Spain, Balearic Islands, Italy (incl. Lampedusa island), Sardinia, France, Corsica, Malta, Madeira, coastal Croatia (except Istria), Adriatic islands, Greece (incl. Crete)
Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Sinai, according to GeckoList.com [date of access 21.12.2006]

Remark: Many thanks for cooperation to Dr. Max Kasparek to determine the found species.

For detailled information cf. Baha El Din, Sherif (2006) A Guide to the Reptiles and Amphibians of Egypt.- Amer. Univ. in Cairo Press, 359pp.

 
 

Desert Fox or Fennec - Vulpes zerda Zimmermann 1780:
E-Sahara / C-Egypt / near oases

Geographic Range:
"The largest populations of Vulpes zerda occur in the central Sahara, though the species can be found in mountainous and desert regions from northern Morocco (roughly 35 degrees N latitude), east along the northern tip of the Red Sea to Kuwait, and south into northern Nigeria and Chad (15 degrees N latitude)."

Habitat:
Fennecs are highly specialized to desert life and found almost exclusively in arid, sandy regions. The presence of desert grasses and/or light scrub vegetation is important, as fennecs use these plants to bolster, shelter, and line their dens. Fennecs are so well adapted to their Saharan climate that they need not drink. In times of need, however, nearby vegetation is a handy source of water and may be eaten.

Physical Description:
Fennecs are the smallest of the canids. They range in size from 0.8 kg in vixens to 1.5 kg in males. They are smaller than an average house cat. Tail length is between 18 and 30 cm, and accounts for nearly 60 percent of the 30 to 40 cm body length. Standing 18 to 22 cm at the shoulder, fennecs are significantly shorter than other African foxes, which average a shoulder height of 30 cm. Not enough is known about fennecs to state conclusively whether they are sexually dimorphic. The family Canidae, however, exhibits the limited sexual dimorphism common in groups of mostly monogamous species. Since V. zerda is monogamous, it is reasonable to assume this species follows the pattern of slight sexual dimorphism. (...)

The ears of fennecs are perhaps their most distinctive feature. Massive in proportion to the skull, the large, 15 cm long pinnae are used both to dissipate heat and to locate prey moving under the sand. Enlarged auditory bullae also serve this latter purpose. Fur in adults is thick and silky, buff-colored on the dorsal surface and white along the animal’s legs, face, ear-linings and underside. In contrast, juveniles are downy and almost exclusively white. The fur over the violet gland - found in all foxes, and of unknown function - is black or dark brown. This is also the color of the fur on the tip of the tail. The feet are heavily furred, protecting the pads from the hot desert sand. The eyes, rhinal pad, and vibrissae of fennecs are all black. Dentition is weak, similar to that in bat-eared foxes. (...)

Ecosystem Roles:
Fennecs are predators, reducing the number of small mammals, birds, reptiles, insects, and other terrestrial invertebrates found within their home territories. They may strip the leaves off scrub vegetation, but there is no evidence that this behavior causes permanent damage to the plants."

Information provided in the Internet by Rebecca Adams
Animal Diversity Web - University of Michigan Museum of Zoology
[date of access 21.12.2006]

 
 
Barbary Sheep, Aoudad or Arui - Ammotragus lervia Pallas 1777 cf. ssp. ornatus:
E-Sahara / SW-Egypt / Gilf Kebir - only dead animals were found in 1982

"General Characteristics:
Body Length: 130-165 cm / 4.3-5.5 ft.
Shoulder Height: 75-110 cm / 2.5-3.7 ft.
Tail Length: 15-20 cm / 6-8 in.
Weight: 30-145 kg / 66-319 lb.

The short, bristly outer coat is reddish to sandy brown in colour. The underparts are moderately lighter. Both sexes have a heavy fringe of hair on their throat, although in males this extends down the neck to encompass the chest and front legs. The tail is also fringed. The body is quite thick and sturdy. The thick, triangular-based horns are found in both sexes, although they are slightly larger in males. The horns have numerous fine rings, although in older individuals these may be worn down, causing the horn surface to look smooth. They curve in a semi-circle over the back, up to 55 cm / 22 inches.

Ecology and Behavior:
Like most desert dwellers, the aoudad is most active in the cooler hours of dawn and dusk, seeking shade and shelter during the day. Aoudad are exceptionally sure-footed and have such jumping power that they can clear a 2 meter / 6.6 foot obstacle with ease from a standing start. The lack of vegetation for cover in their habitat has caused the aoudad to conceal itself by freezing in the presence of danger. Although they can generally obtain all needed moisture from their food, if water is available aoudad drink and wallow liberally.

Family group: Generally solitary or in small groups.
Diet: Sparse grasses, bushes, acacia, lichens.
Main Predators: Leopard, caracal.

Distribution:
Rocky arid mountains in isolated pockets throughout northern Africa.

Conservation Status:
The aoudad is classified as a vulnerable species by the IUCN (1996). A. l. ornatus, the Egyptian barbary sheep, is believed to be extinct."

Information provided on Ammotragus laervia in the Internet by Brent Huffman
www.ultimateungulate.com [date of access 21.12.2006]

 
 
 
Copyright © H. Kehl / TU-Berlin - Institut für Ökologie

 
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