Skip to content

» The Wild Animals in Africa

The animals of Africa stand out for their incredible qualities. This vast continent offers the ideal conditions for the development of the most amazing species.

The Sahara desert, the tropical forest of Salonga National Park or the savannah of Amboseli National Park are some of the many examples of the variety of ecosystems, which are home to the animals of the African savannah, the 5 great ones of Africa and many others.

In this WildAnimals article, we will talk in detail about wild animals that live in africa. We will show you the richness of the fauna that coexists in the third largest continent in the world. By the way, it is imposing, both in quantity and singularity.

There are three types of wild animals in africa: phytophagous or herbivorous, zoophagous or carnivorous and saprophagous animals, which feed on decomposing organic matter.

Below we will detail the most representative African animals, their characteristics, or the state of conservation in which they are currently, do not miss it!

The Big 5 of Africa

The Big Five of Africa” refers to five species of African animals: the lion, the leopard, the brown buffalo, the black rhinoceros, and the elephant. The term now appears regularly in safari guides, but the term was born among hunting enthusiasts, who called them dangerous.

The big five in Africa are:

Countries where we can find the 5 great ones of Africa:

  • Angola
  • Republic of Botswana
  • Ethiopia
  • Kenya
  • Malawi
  • Namibia
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Rwanda
  • South Africa
  • Tanzania
  • Uganda
  • Zambia
  • Zimbabwe

1- The elephant

The African elephant (Loxodonta africana) is considered the largest terrestrial mammal in the world. It can reach up to 5 meters in height, 7 meters in length and about 6,000 kilograms. Females are somewhat smaller; however, these animals have a matriarchal social system, and it is an “Alpha” female that holds the herd together.

However, regardless of its size, it is the peculiar figure of the proboscis that differentiates it from other herbivorous species. An enormous head and body supported by four legs that resemble pillars. Highly developed ears, a long trunk, and large ivory tusks distinguish the adult male elephant. Female tusks are much smaller.

The trunk is used by elephants to pull out grass and leaves and put them in their mouths. It is also used for drinking. The enormous ears serve them to cool the body of the pachyderm through their fan movement.

Although we know his intelligence and emotional capabilities that make him a susceptible animal, the truth is that a wild elephant is a hazardous animal, because if it feels threatened can react with very sudden movements and fatal onslaughts for a human.

Currently, the elephant is considered a vulnerable species according to the IUCN.

2- The African buffalo

The brown buffalo or Cape buffalo (Syncerus caffer) is probably one of the most feared animals, both by animals and people. It is a gregarious animal that spends all its life traveling, accompanied by a large community.

It is also courageous, so it will not hesitate to defend its fellows without fear, being able to provoke a stampede against any threat.

For this reason, the buffalo has always been a very respected animal by native populations. The inhabitants and guides of the African routes usually wear necklaces that emit a characteristic sound, very recognizable for the buffaloes, in this way, by association, they try to minimize the sensation of risk for these animals.

Finally, it is an almost endangered species according to the IUCN.

3- The leopard

The African leopard (Panthera pardus pardus) is present throughout sub-Saharan Africa, preferring savannah and grassland environments. It is the largest leopard subspecies, weighing between 24 and 53 kilograms, although some larger individuals have been recorded.

It is more active at dawn and dusk, as it is a twilight animal.

Thanks to its versatility, which allows it to climb, run and swim, the African leopard is capable of hunting wildebeests, jackals, wild boars, antelopes, and even giraffe cubs.

As a curiosity, we can point out that when it is entirely black, the fruit of melanism, the leopard is called a “black panther.”

Finally, according to the IUCN, the African leopard is in a vulnerable state in its habitat, and its population is currently declining.

4- The black rhinoceros

The black rhinos (Diceros bicornis), also known as the hooked lip rhinoceros, one of the largest animals in Africa, can reach up to two meters in height and 1,500 kilograms.

It lives in Angola, Kenya, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania and the United Republic of Zimbabwe. Also, it has been successfully reintroduced in Botswana, Eswatini, Malawi, and Zambia.

This tremendously versatile animal can adapt to desert areas, as well as the most forested areas, and can live between 15 and 20 years.

However, despite this, this species is critically endangered according to the IUCN and has become extinct in Cameroon and Chad, also suspected in Ethiopia.

5- The lion

The lion (Panthera leo) is the animal with which we close the five great ones of Africa. This super predator is the only one that presents sexual dimorphism, which allows us to differentiate the males, with their dense mane, from the females, who lack it.

It is considered the largest feline in Africa and the second-largest in the world, only behind the tiger. Males can reach 260 kg in weight, while females can reach 180 kg. The height at the withers is between 100 and 125 cm.

The females are the ones charged with hunting; for this, they coordinate and stalk the chosen prey, being able to reach up to 59 km/h in fast accelerations. They can feed on zebras, wildebeests, warthogs or any other animal.

One detail that few people know is that the lion and hyenas are rivals who fight each other for the hunt, and although it is generally thought that the hyena is a scavenger, the truth is that it is the lion who often acts as an opportunistic animal stealing food from the hyenas.

The lion, one of the five largest in Africa, is considered to be in a vulnerable state according to the IUCN, as its population decreases annually, and today there are a total of between 23,000 and 39,000 mature adult specimens.

The wild animals that live in africa

Aside from Africa’s big five, many other African animals are worth knowing, both for their incredible physical characteristics and for their wild behavior. Do you want to meet them? Here are some of them:

1- The wildebeest

There are two species in Africa: the blue wildebeest (Connochaetes taurinus) and the white-tailed wildebeest (Connochaetes gnou). We are talking about large animals, as the black-tailed wildebeest can weigh between 150 and 200 kilograms, while the white-tailed wildebeest weighs an average of 150 kg.

They are gregarious animals, which means that they live in herds of a large number of individuals, and can reach thousands.

We are also talking about herbivorous animals, which feed on grass, foliage, and endemic succulent plants, and whose main predators are lions, leopards, hyenas, and African wild dogs.

They are exceptionally agile, being able to reach 80 km/h, as well as being especially aggressive, an essential behavioral characteristic for their survival. They are considered species of minor concern.

2- The Warthog

Warthog, also known as “warty boar“, is the name that refers to the animals of the genus Phacochoerus, which has two African species, the Phacochoerus africanus and the Phacochoerus aethiopicus. They live in savannahs and semi-desert areas, where they feed on all kinds of fruits and vegetables, although they also include eggs, birds, and carrion in their diet. We speak, therefore, of omnivorous animals.

They are also sociable, as they share rest, feeding or bathing areas with other species. Also, we are talking about a genus of intelligent animals, which take advantage of the nests of other animals, such as anteaters (Orycteropus afer), to shelter from predators while sleeping. Like wildebeests, warthogs are considered minor species of concern, according to IUCN.

3- The Cheetah

The cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus), stands out for being the fastest terrestrial animal in the race, thanks to its incredible 115 km/h in distances between 400 and 500 meters. It is slender, with a yellow-gold mantle, covered by oval-shaped black spots.

It is very light because unlike other large felines with which it shares habitat, it weighs between 40 and 65 kilograms, which is why it chooses small prey such as impalas, gazelles, hares, and ungulate offspring.

According to the IUCN, this animal is in a vulnerable situation because its population decreases every day, falling below 7,000 mature adult individuals.

4- The Mongoose

The banded mongoose (Mungos mungo) lives in different countries of the African continent. This small carnivorous animal does not surpass the kilogram of weight; nevertheless, we speak of very violent animals, being frequent the aggression between different groups that cause dead and wounded in the community. However, it is suspected that they have a symbiosis relationship with baboon’s hamadryas (Papio hamadryas).

They live in communities of between 10 and 40 individuals, who always communicate with each other through grunts to stay connected.

They sleep together and have age-based hierarchies, with females managing control of the group. They feed individually on insects, reptiles, and birds. According to IUCN, it is a species of minor concern.

5- The Termite

The African savannah termite (Macrotermes natalensis) often goes unnoticed. It plays a fundamental role in the balance and biodiversity of the African savannah.

These animals are especially advanced as they cultivate Termitomyces mushrooms for consumption and have a structured caste system, placing a king and a queen at the top of the hierarchy.

It is estimated that their nests, where millions of insects live, help to increase soil nutrients and encourage the channeling of water. Therefore, it is not surprising that plants and other animals always surround them.

Animals of the African savannah

The African savannah is a transition zone between the African jungle and the African awakenings. In it, we find a substratum rich in iron, of intense red color, as well as little vegetation. It usually has an average temperature of between 20 ºC and 30 ºC, besides, for about six months, there is an intense drought, while in the remaining six showers of rainfall. What are the animals of the African savannah? We show them to you:

1- The white rhinoceros

The white rhino (Ceratotherium simum) live in South Africa, Botswana, Kenya, and Zambia, among others. It has two subspecies, the southern white rhinoceros and the northern white rhinoceros, extinct in the wild since 2018. Still, there are two female individuals in captivity. Their size is huge, as an adult male can exceed 180 cm. high and 2,500 kg. weight.

It is a herbivorous animal, which inhabits the savannah and grasslands. On the run, it can reach 50 km/h. It is also a gregarious animal, which lives in communities of between 10 and 20 individuals, which reach sexual maturity late, around 7 years.

According to the IUCN, it is considered an almost endangered species, since there is an international interest in the species for hunting and the manufacture of handicrafts and jewelry.

2- The Zebra

Among the animals of Africa, we find three species of zebras: the common zebra (Equus quagga), the Grévy’s zebra (Equus grevyi), and the mountain zebra (Equus zebra). According to IUCN, they are of minor concern, endangered and vulnerable, respectively.

These animals, belonging to the Equidae family, have never been domesticated and are only present on the African continent.

They are herbivorous animals, which feed on grass, leaves, and shoots, but also on tree bark or tender branches. Except for the Grévyi zebras, the other species are very sociable, creating groups known as “harems” where one male, several females, and their foals live together.

3- The Gazelle

We call gazelle the more than 40 species of animals of the genus Gazella, most of which are now extinct. They live mainly in the African savannah, but also specific areas of southwest Asia. They are very slender animals, with long legs and an elongated face. They are also very agile, being able to reach 97 km/h. They sleep in short periods, never more than one hour, always accompanied by the other members of their group, which can reach thousands of individuals.

4- The Ostrich

The ostrich (Struthio camelus) is the giant bird in the world, exceeding 250 cm. in height and 150 kg. in weight. It adapts perfectly to arid and semi-arid zones; for that reason, we can find it in Africa and Arabia. It is considered an omnivorous animal because it feeds on plants, arthropods, and carrion.

It presents sexual dimorphism, the males being black and the females brown or gray. As a curiosity, we emphasize that its eggs are incredibly significant, weighing between 1 and 2 kilograms. It is in a situation of minor concern according to the IUCN.

5- The Giraffe

The giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis) inhabits the African savannah, but also grasslands and open forests. It is considered the highest land animal in the world, reaching 580 cm, and weighing between 700 and 1,600 kg. This large ruminant feeds on shrubs, herbs, and fruits; in fact, it is estimated that an adult consumes about 34 kg. of foliage a day.

They are gregarious animals, living in groups of more than 30 individuals, also creating stable and lasting social relationships. They generally have only one calf, although it has also been the case that some giraffes have had twins, reaching sexual maturity around 3 or 4 years of age. According to the IUCN, the giraffe is a vulnerable species, as its population is currently decreasing.

Animals of the African jungle

The African rainforest is a vast territory stretching across Central and South Africa. It is a humid zone, thanks to abundant rainfall, with a cooler temperature than that of the savannah, with a temperature that varies between 10 º C and 27 º C approximately. In it we find a great variety of wild animals in african jungle, like the ones that we show you next:

1- The hippopotamus

The common hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibius) is the third-largest land animal in the world. It can weigh between 1,300 and 1,500 kg and can reach 30 km/h. It lives in rivers, mangroves, and lakes, where it cools during the hottest hours. The common hippopotamus extends from Egypt to Mozambique, although four other species together populate a large number of African countries.

They are especially aggressive animals, towards other animals and others of the same species. That is why many people wonder why hippos attack. It is in a vulnerable situation, according to the IUCN, mainly due to the international sale of its ivory tusks and the consumption of its meat by the local population.

2- The crocodile

Three species of crocodiles inhabit forested areas of Africa: the desert crocodile (Crocodylus suchus), the African crocodile muzzle (Mecistops cataphractus) and the Nile crocodile (Crocodylus niloticus). We are talking about giant reptiles that inhabit various types of rivers, lagoons, and wetlands. They can exceed 6 meters long and 1,500 kilograms.

Depending on the species, they can also live in saltwater. The diet of crocodiles is based on the consumption of vertebrates and invertebrates, although it may vary depending on the species. They have a hard skin, full of scales, and their life expectancy can exceed 80 years. It is essential to know the differences between crocodiles and caimans so as not to confuse them. Some species, such as the African crocodile snout, are critically endangered.

3- The gorilla

There are two species of gorillas, with their corresponding subspecies, that inhabit African forests: the western gorilla (Gorilla gorilla) and the eastern gorilla (Gorilla beringei). The gorillas’ diet is mainly herbivorous and is based on the consumption of foliage. They have a well-defined social structure, in which the silver-backed male, his females, and descendants stand out. Their main predator is the leopard.

It is considered that they use tools to feed themselves and that they make their nests to sleep. The strength of gorillas is one of the most curious subjects among people. Despite all the above, both species are critically endangered according to the IUCN.

4- The parrot

The African grey parrot (Psittacus erithacus) is found in various parts of Africa and is thought to be a particularly ancient species. It is about 30 cm long and weighs between 350 and 400 grams. Its life expectancy is prodigious, as it can exceed 60 years. They are very sociable animals, which stand out for their intelligence and sensitivity, which allows them to have the ability to speak. According to the IUCN, they are in danger of extinction.

5- The Python

We close the list of African animals with the python of Seba (Python sebae) or African rock python, considered one of the largest snakes in the world. It is distributed in different areas of sub-Saharan Africa and is also considered present in Florida, due to the illegal trafficking of pets. This species, a constrictor, can exceed 5 meters in length and 100 kilograms in weight.

Africa’s animals in danger of extinction

As you have already seen, there are many animals in danger of extinction in Africa, but in short, here is a list of some of them:

  • Black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis)
  • African White-backed Vulture (Gyps africanus)
  • African crocodile (Mecistops cataphractus)
  • White rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum)
  • African wild donkey (Equus africanus)
  • Cape Penguin (Spheniscus demersus)
  • African wild dog (Lycaon pictus)
  • African Devil’s Horse (Africallagma cuneistigma)
  • African bat (Kerivoula africana)
  • Phantom frog (Heleophryne hewitti)
  • African giant frog (Arthroleptis krokosua)
  • Mount Kahuzi Climbing Mouse (Dendromus kahuziensis)
  • Congolese owl (Phodilus prigoginei)
  • Gibose dolphin (Sousa teuszii)
  • Perret water frog (Petropedetes perreti)
  • Zambezi fin turtle (Cycloderma frenatum)
  • Cecilia africana (Boulengerula taitana)
  • Amphibian of the genus Caecilidae (Boulengerula changamwensis

  • Pickersgill cane frog (Hyperolius pickersgilli)
  • Santo Tomé Frog (Hyperolius thomensis)
  • Kenyan frog (Hyperolius rubrovermiculatus)
  • African spotted catfish (Holohalaelurus punctatus)
  • Cecilia de sagala (Boulengerula niedeni)
  • Juliana’s golden mole (Neamblysomus julianae)
  • Clarke’s banana frog (Afrixalus clarkei)
  • Malagasy giant rat (Hypogeomys antimena)
  • Geometric turtle (Psammobates geometricus)
  • Northern white rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum cottoni)
  • Zebra of Grévyi (Equus grevyi)
  • African crocodile (Mecistops cataphractus)
  • Western Gorilla (Gorilla gorilla)
  • Eastern Gorilla (Gorilla beringei)
  • African grey parrot (Psittacus erithacus)