Africa is the second-largest continent in the world, and it’s diverse in culture and natural beauty, but it’s also home to many unique species. In fact, among the top reasons to visit some of the countries here would be to marvel at the wildlife, and there is no denying that Africa is home to some of the most majestic animals in the world.
Among the most well-known species are the lion and the rhinoceros, but here you can also see the largest land mammal in the world, as well as the fastest. As for why it’s worth seeing these remarkable animals in their natural habitat, well, that’s because it would be an unforgettable adventure, but also an educational one. And the opportunity to see these animals roaming around in the wild may not be there in the future because there are several which are listed as vulnerable and endangered.
Tourists have chosen African countries as their go-to destinations for safaris, according to The Conversation, and this allows them a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see animals that they have probably only seen in zoos or on television. Tourism is also important for the countries that are visited and oftentimes helps with conservation efforts.
Below are 20 animals (out of the many, many more) that you can find in Africa.
20 The African Elephant Is The Largest Land Mammal In The World
The African elephant is the world’s largest land animal, weighing 6 tons and ranging from 19 to 24 feet, World Wildlife Fund reports. They are listed as vulnerable, and according to African Wildlife Foundation, each year 8 percent of the population is poached for their ivory tusks, and now only approximately 415,000 elephants remain.
There are two subspecies of the African elephant, the savanna (or bush) elephant, and the forest elephant, and according to African Wildlife Foundation, the savanna elephants are larger with tusks that curve out, whereas the forest elephant’s tusks are more straight.
19 Cheetahs Can Reach Impressive Speeds In Just Three Seconds
The cheetah is a remarkable animal. This cat is the world’s fastest land animal, reaching speeds of 70 mph, and according to Cheetah organization, it can reach its top speed in just 3 seconds. The publication also reports that the tail of the animal helps to balance the cheetah when it’s running and controls the direction.
Like many of the other animals on this list, cheetahs are also listed as vulnerable, with African Wildlife Foundation reporting that approximately 6,674 adults remain in the wild and only 5 percent of cubs making it to adulthood.
18 The Male And Female Greater Kudu Don't Live Together
The greater kudu is a near threatened species of antelopes that is tall, with very long horns, and stripes and spots on its body. These animals feed on vegetation in a number of areas including woodlands, mountains, hills and bushlands, Nature reports. Although they are reportedly not often seen in open lands as they use dense bushes and trees for protection from predators, African Wildlife Foundation.
Adult females usually form small groups and live together with their calves, while the males are solitary animals only joining with the females when it is mating season.
17 Rhinoceros Are Endangered And Poached For Their Unique Horns
There are five species of Rhinoceros, two of which, the white and black Rhinoceros, are found in Africa. However, these animals are hunted for their nose horns and have become endangered, resulting in very few existing outsides of reserves and national parks, World Wildlife Fund reports.
Most rhinos are solitary, although white rhinos can live in small groups. As for their interaction with humans, they prefer to avoid us, however, if the females have a calf and feel threatened they could be more aggressive and charge, Britannica reports.
16 The Lion Is A Majestic Big Cat With A Family Hierarchy
One of the most majestic animals in the big cat family is the lion. But according to World Wildlife Fund, these big cats are vulnerable with only 20,000 of them remaining. The reason for the decrease in numbers is due to the effects of illegal wildlife trade, conflicts with humans, and habitat loss, among other things.
Lions are social animals and can be found in prides of up to 15 lions, and much like domestic cats, they sleep a lot. Up to 20 hours a day, according to WWF. They also have a hierarchy and male lions defend the territory while the female hunts, although, interestingly, the females wait for the male to eat first.
15 The Common Ostrich Is A Flightless Bird, But It Has Other Ways To Protect Itself
The common ostrich is the world’s largest bird, although it’s incapable of flying. You can tell the males and females apart by their coloring, with the males being a more distinct black and white combination, while the females are a dull, brown-grey color.
According to the African Wildlife Association, because the bird is flightless it uses its strong legs and unique two-toed, almost hoof-like foot, to defend itself by running or delivering powerful kicks. Another interesting thing about these birds is that their eggs are big, really big, and can weigh up to 3 pounds, Britannica reports.
14 African Civet Is Not A Fussy Eater
The common ostrich’s egg can weigh 3 pounds, about the same size as some African civets because according to Animal Spot, they weigh between 3 to 10 pounds, with the females being a bit larger than the males. According to the publication, in the wild these creatures can live for 12 years, but have a much longer lifespan in captivity and can live almost double that length of time.
They are omnivores, and definitely not fussy eaters because according to Kruger Park, their diet includes reptiles, insects, fruit, and birds.
13 The African Wild Dog Is Not Like Your Pet Dog, And They're Endangered
The African Wild Dog is not like the domestic dog and the thing that sets them apart from other canines is their unique paws, with only four toes per foot, National Geographic reports. The dogs hunt in a pack, which is usually dominated by a monogamous breeding pair, and they are are very social animals. The publication reports that when a female gives birth, the pack help to take care of the litter, and they have been known to also care for the weak and ill members of the pack.
Unfortunately, the African Wild Dog is endangered, and World Wildlife Fund claims they are one of the most endangered mammals.
12 The Hippopotamus Is Not An Animal You Want To Mess With
The word hippopotamus is reportedly the Greek word for "river horse," Fact Zoo reports. Although, this creature looks nothing like a horse and they are certainly much larger than one as they can weigh up to 3.5 tons.
The is hippopotamus is native to 29 African countries, African Wildlife Foundation reports, and spend their time (which is an average lifespan of 50 years) in rivers and swamps. Although these herbivores graze on land at night for around four to five hours and eat around 80 pounds of food during this time.
11 Zebra Are Alert Animals That Sometimes Can Be Found In Mixed Herds
The zebra is a member of the horse family and is recognized by their distinctive striped markings. There are three subspecies, all three of which are found in various parts of Africa, and the way to tell them apart is by their stripe; and just how widely they are spread out, Britannica reports.
Another interesting thing to know about zebras is that they occasionally form mixed herds with animals like wildebeest and giraffe, who benefit from being around the zebras.
10 The Giraffe Uses Its Height And Its Tongue To Eat Food Other Herbivores Can't Access
The giraffe is the world’s tallest animal with the animals long neck making up most of the height. According to Kruger Park, an adult male is usually around 5 meters (and weighs around 1, 200 kilograms), while an adult female is slightly smaller at 4.5 meters (and she's lighter, too, weighing around 800 to 900 kilograms).
Something else that’s long about the animal is its prehensile tongue, which it uses to feed on leaves and other greenery from the tops of trees. The giraffe's height is beneficial in this sense because much of their food sources are out of reach of other herbivores.
9 The Dik-Dik Is Maybe The Cutest Buck You'll Ever See
The dik-dik is a small species of antelope, and also a pretty adorable one at that. According to Britannica, these animals are tiny and the males weigh between 3.8 kg to 7.2 kg (which is smaller than most dogs), while females often weighing up to 1 kg more.
The dik-dik prefers to live in areas that offer good coverage because this helps to protect them from predators, and according to African Wildlife Foundation, their coloring varies depending on the natural terrain in which they live. Speaking of their habitat, the dik-dik is also interesting in that it marks its territory with a sticky substance which is secreted from the glands located in the corner of their eyes.
8 A Large Percentage Of Wildebeest Give Birth Around The Same Time
If you have ever watched a documentary about migration on the African plains then you would have seen herds and herds of wildebeest (a type of antelope), and these animals are always migrating in search of food and water supplies.
They are considered of least concern on the conservation status, National Geographic reports. An interesting thing about wildebeests is that around 80 percent of the females reportedly give birth around the same time, a smart survival tactic as this increases the chance of calves making it to adulthood and avoiding attacks from predators.
7 The Grey Crowned Crane Is Celebrated As Uganda's National Bird
The grey-crowned crane is a striking bird with unique colors, most noticeably the yellow “crown” of feathers on their head, and according to Animal Facts, it is the national bird of Uganda.
Pairs mate for life, and despite laying 2 to 3 eggs at a time, which Earth Rangers claims is the highest average amount of any crane, these birds are endangered. They can found in the wetland and grassland areas like marshes and rivers, and they omnivores, so they eat pretty much anything, including insects, lizards, and seeds.
6 You Don't Get Monkeys More Beautiful Than The Mantled Guereza
The mantled guereza is a beautiful species of monkeys that live in the African forests of West-central and East Africa. They have striking shaggy black and white pelts, and, surprisingly, no thumbs, which according to Earth Rangers is why they are named “Colobus,” the Greek word for “mutilated.”
According to African Exponent, they rarely come down from the treetops where they feast upon leaves and even toxic foliage. Yes, toxic, because unlike many other primates, these monkeys have a highly developed digestive system that allows them to break down toxic food.
5 The Hartebeest Is An Excellent Runner
If you ever needed the motivation to go to Africa, it would be because so many of the species have a vulnerable conservation status, but according to African Wildlife Foundation, the hartebeest is not one of them. However, they do have challenges because of human hunting, as well as expanding cattle grazing which has caused competition for food.
The hartebeest is a large, fawn-colored antelope, that few people would say is as beautiful as some of the other antelope species like the greater kudu. But what the hartebeest lacks in beauty, it makes up for in speed and is reportedly an excellent runner.
4 'The Lion King' Gave Us A Reason To Love The Warthog
If you watched The Lion King, then you will remember Pumba, who was a warthog. Like the hartebeest, the warthog also has a conservation status of least threatened and that’s great because these sturdy animals are incredibly interesting. According to the African Wildlife Foundation, they can run up to 34 miles per hour and they have an interesting approach to their offspring (although it also seems quite harsh).
Apparently, when the female warthog is getting ready to have another litter, she distances herself from the juveniles she had been raising.
3 The Spotted Hyena Is A Scavenger, But Also A Capable Hunter
Hyena are strange looking animals known for scavenging food, but according to National Geographic, the spotted hyena is also an accomplished hunter and is perfectly capable of catching its own prey. As for its preference, well, it doesn't seem to have one because the hyena's diet ranges of big animals like wildebeest, to lizards, snakes, and even bugs.
Hyenas can be found in many habitats and they are widespread. Of the three subspecies of the hyena, the spotted hyena is actually the biggest and strangely, the publication claims that they are closer in relation to cats than dogs.
2 The African Buffalo Is Not Like Your Regular, Domesticated Kind
The African buffalo makes up one-fifth of the Big Five. You can spot them in large herds of both male and females, but it is only the females that typically stay with the herd they were born into, while the males leave when they are around four years, African Wildlife Foundation reports.
The species may look like the water buffalo, but they are not domesticated and in fact quite aggressive, and according to Africa Wildlife Detective, they have been known to chase hunters. The African buffalo also has horns that protrude outwards from the sides of their heads, and these serve them well when they are defending against their natural predators.
1 It's Rare To See An Okapi And Their Unusual Markings Provide Great Camouflage
It’s rare to see an okapi, but these animals, which look to be a combination of a horse and a zebra, are very interesting indeed. According to Britannica, they are actually related to the giraffe, however, they are much shorter, with average male okapi around 2.5 meters in length, and the females are slightly taller.
The okapi’s unusual markings allow for it to easily blend in with its natural surroundings, and according to World Wildlife Fund, those surroundings are restricted to one place; the forests of the northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo.
The okapi is a solitary animal but there are times when they can be seen within close proximity of each other because their territories overlap.