Animals in Africa



Africa has several different types of habitats from jungles and forests to grasslands and deserts. The second-largest continent after Asia, it is home to many beautiful and dangerous animals of various sizes, both diurnal and nocturnal.

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These include mammals, reptiles, birds, and insects, with many being unique to Africa. Because of its biodiversity, it is a popular location for animal researchers as well as safari enthusiasts. It contains over 1,100 different mammal species, plus over 60 carnivore species, 100,000 insect species, 3,000 freshwater fish species, and over 2,600 bird species. Its populations of insects comprise 15-20% of all insects in the world.

The Official National Animals of Africa

Since Africa is made up of several countries containing their own culture and languages, as well as different types of habitats, there aren’t official African animals that represent the entire continent. Hence, each country has its own official national animal, with some countries having more than one national animal or sharing the same national animal as that of other countries.

The Oryx is the National Animal of Namibia

National animals are often categorized according to type, especially if a country has more than one. For example, the Leopard is the official national animal (land mammal) of both Rwanda and Somalia, while the American Fish Eagle is the national bird of Namibia and Zambia, and the Oryx is the national animal of Namibia. South Africa’s official national animal is the Springbok, its national bird is the Blue Crane, and its national fish the Galjoen.

Where To Find The Top Wildlife in Africa

The top wild animals in Africa are those that people most often seek out in safaris, with many being animals native to Africa. These safari animals are housed in national parks, game reserves, and other sanctuaries for both human safety as well as to avoid their becoming part of the extinct animals in Africa. Among the best known African animals are the “Big Five” which are the Lion, Leopard, Elephant, Rhinoceros, and Buffalo. All of them can be seen in South Africa and are native animals:

Animal Groups – Crash of Rhinoceroses
Rhinos are one of the “Big Five” African Land Animals

Other top wild animals in Africa and where to find them are:

Animal Groups – Zeal of Zebras
Zebras are found in the Serengeti or Masai Mara region

The Most Dangerous Animals In Africa Today

Land animals in Africa are popular attractions for safari enthusiasts, although they are not always treated with caution and respect. Many dangerous African animals are among the most dangerous in the world after human beings, whether hostile or poisonous. Fortunately, most dangerous African animals can be safely seen in national parks and game reserves. The top 10 most dangerous animals in Africa and their estimated number of human deaths per year are:

Strongest animal bite – hippopotamus
Hippos are highly aggressive and unpredictable, and often charge other animals or even humans.
  • Mosquito: Causes diseases including Malaria, Yellow Fever, Zeka Virus, West Nile Virus, and Dengue Fever; 1,000,000 deaths.
  • Hippopotamus: Territorial and weighs up to 1,500kg, making it the third-largest animal after the elephant and rhino; 3,000 deaths.
  • African Elephant: Largest land animal; weighs up to 7,000kg and is unpredictable; tramples victims; 500 deaths.
  • Nile Crocodile: Aggressive, fatal attacks; 300 deaths.
  • Lion: Apex predator; kills locals during their daily lives or on the fringes of game reserves; 200 deaths.
  • Cape Buffalo: Nicknamed “widowmaker” and “black death”; fearless, aggressive, and unpredictable; will stalk and kill humans if alone; tramples and gores victims to death; weighs up to 1,000kg; 200 deaths.
  • Great White Shark: Most aggressive shark towards humans; charges at prey up to 40km an hour before taking a large bite; humans die from blood loss in 20 percent of cases; 2 deaths.
  • Rhinoceros: Weighs up to 2,800kg and second largest animal after the elephant; irritable, and charges with long, sharp horns up to 64km an hour when threatened; unknown.
  • Puff Adder: Not the most venomous snake but causes the most fatalities due to its wide habitat range, camoflauge colors and aggressiveness; 20 percent fatality rate from untreated bites; unknown.
  • Black Mamba: Largest venomous snake in Africa, growing up to 2.5m; one of the world’s fastest snakes, moving at 20km an hour; highly aggressive; one of the most venomous snakes in the world with a 100% fatality for untreated bites; unknown.

Endangered Animals In Africa

Wild dog (Canis familiaris)
The African Wild Dog is Endangered

Several species are endangered or vulnerable due to hunting and poaching, particularly large and dangerous animals which are prized as trophies. Endangered animals in Africa include the Black Rhino, White Rhino, Rothschild’s Giraffe, Grévy’s Zebra, (African) Wild Dog, Grey Crowned Crane and Okapi. Additionally, the Lion, Leopard, Cheetah and African Forest Elephant are vulnerable species.

African Countries Animals Lists

Click any of the countries below to see a detailed list of animals located in that country!

African Animals

Aardvark

Can move 2ft of soil in just 15 seconds!

Abyssinian

The oldest breed of cat in the world!

Addax

The hooves of the addax are splayed and have flat, springy soles, one of the adaptations that help it walk over sand.

African Bullfrog

The African bullfrog is one of only three species of frog that have “teeth.”

African Bush Elephant

Can drink up to 50 gallons a day

African Civet

Secretes up to 4g of musk every week!

African Clawed Frog

A particularly ferocious amphibian!

African Forest Elephant

Have large rounded ears to help keep them cool!

African Palm Civet

Solitary but gathers in groups!

African Penguin

The only penguin species in Africa!

African Tree Toad

Found in tropical moist lowland forests!

African Wild Dog

Also known as the painted dog!

Aidi

This dog has a thick coat of fur despite its origins in Morocco, a country known for its hot temperatures.

Albatross

The largest wingspan of any bird in the world!

American Cockroach

Despite its name, actually originated from Africa and the Middle East

Angora Goat

Each adult Angora goat produces about 12 inches of mohair annually while kids have about 8 inches.

Ant

First evolved 100 million years ago!

Antelope

Renew their horns every year!

Armyworm

They are so named because they "march" in armies of worms from one crop to another in search of food

Aye Aye

Thought to be extinct until 1957!

Baboon

Can travel more than four miles a day!

Banana Spider

People spin clothing and fishing nets out of these spiders’ silk.

Barb

There are over 2,000 known species!

Barn Owl

Found everywhere around the world!

Barn Swallow

Older offspring help care for new hatchlings.

Basenji Dog

Alert, affectionate and energetic!

Bat

Detects prey using echolocation!

Beetle

There are more than 350,000 different species

Bichir

The bichir species is more than 400 million years old

Bird

Not all birds are able to fly!

Black Rhinoceros

Horns can grow to 1.5m!

Black Widow Spider

They typically prey on insects!

Bongo

Long and heavy spiralled horns!

Bonobo

Shares 97% of the same DNA as humans!

Brookesia Micra

Brookesia micra can curl up and pretend to be a dead leaf if it’s threatened.

Brown Hyena

They don’t laugh

Buffalo

Has no real natural predators!

Bumblebee

The most common species of bee!

Bush Baby

In a series of leaps, this creature can cover almost 30 feet of distance in just a few seconds.

Butterfly

There are thought to be up 20,000 species!

Camel

Can survive without water for 10 months!

Cape Lion

Despite its large, muscular body, the Cape lion actually rests more than 20 hours a day

Caracal

Has 20 different muscles in it's ears!

Carpenter Ant

Carpenter ants can lift up to seven times their own weight with their teeth!

Cat

First domesticated by the Ancient Egyptians!

Caterpillar

The larvae of a moth or butterfly!

Catfish

There are nearly 3,000 different species!

Centipede

There are about 3,000 documented species!

Chameleon

There are more than 160 different species!

Cheetah

The fastest land mammal in the world!

Chicken

First domesticated more than 10,000 years ago!

Chimpanzee

Has 32 teeth including fang-like canines!

Cicada

Cicadas have one of the longest insect lifespans

Cichlid

There are more than 2 000 known species!

Cockroach

Dated to be around 300 million years old!

Common Buzzard

The most common raptor in the UK!

Common House Spider

House spiders have the ability to eat most insects in a home.

Common Raven

A group of ravens is called an unkindness or a conspiracy.

Coton de Tulear

The soft coat of the Coton de Tulear is the result of a singular genetic mutation early in the breed's development.

Cow

There are nearly 1.5 million worldwide!

Crab

There are 93 different crab groups

Crab Spider

Crab Spiders can mimic ants or bird droppings

Crane

Many are critically endangered species!

Crocodile

Have changed little in 200 million years!

Cross River Gorilla

Less than 300 remaining!

Desert Locust

Solitary locusts are grey while gregarious locusts are yellow with stripes.

Desert Rain Frog

The desert rain frog doesn't hop

Dik-Dik

A dik-dik is named after a sound it makes when it is frightened

Dog

First domesticated in South-East Asia!

Donkey

First domesticated 5,000 years ago!

Dormouse

Found in Europe, Africa and Asia!

Dragonfly

It's larvae are carnivorous!

Duck

Rows of tiny plates line their teeth!

Dung Beetle

The dung beetle can push objects many times its own weight

Dwarf Crocodile

Digs burrows in river banks to rest!

Eagle

Has exceptional eyesight!

Earwig

There are nearly 2,000 different species!

Eastern Gorilla

The largest primate in the world!

Eastern Lowland Gorilla

Less than 5,000 in the wild!

Eel

Eels can be a mere few inches long to 13 feet!

Egyptian Mau

An ancient breed of domestic cat!

Elephant

Spends around 22 hours a day eating!

Elephant Shrew

Found exclusively on the African continent!

Falcon

The fastest creatures on the planet!

Fallow deer

The fallow deer has more variation in its coat colors than most other deer.

False Widow Spider

False spiders actually prey on black widow spiders and other hazardous spiders

Fennec Fox

Found in the African Sahara Desert!

Fiddler Crab

The fiddler crab gets its name from the motion the males make with their over-sized claw during the mating ritual.

Flamingo

Sleeps on just one leg!

Fly

There are more than 240,000 different species!

Fossa

Most closely related to the Mongoose!

Fox

There are 12 different species in the world!

Frog

There are around 7,000 different species!

Fruit Bat

Among the largest bats in the world

Gecko

There are thought to be over 2,000 species!

Genet

The Genet has retractable claws like a cat

Gerbil

Originally known as the Desert Rat!

Giant African Land Snail

The biggest snail species on land!

Giraffe

Long, black tongue can grow to 18 inches long!

Glass Lizard

Can grow up to 4ft long!

Glow Worm

Found inhabiting dense woodland and caves!

Goat

Most closely related to the Sheep!

Golden Oriole

Migrates between Europe and Asia!

Goliath Frog

Does not have a vocal sac.

Gorilla

The biggest of the world's primates!

Grasshopper

There are 11,000 known species!

Green Bee-Eater

Mainly eats honeybees!

Grey Mouse Lemur

The largest species of mouse lemur!

Guinea Fowl

Found in a vairety of African habitats!

Hamster

Able to run as quickly backwards as forwards!

Hare

Can reach speeds of over 40 mph!

Hedgehog

Thought to be one of the oldest mammals on Earth!

Heron

Inhabits wetlands around the world!

Hippopotamus

Has pink anti-bacterial sweat!

Honey Badger

One of earth's bravest creatures!

Honey Bee

There are only 8 recognized species!

Hoopoe

Stunning bird with a stinky way to deter predators!

Hornbill

The bird has a massive horn on its bill!

Horse

Has evolved over 50 million years!

Horsefly

Horseflies have been seen performing Immelmann turns, much like fighter jets.

Human

Thought to have orignated 200,000 years ago!

Huntsman Spider

Some huntsman spiders have an interesting way of moving around. Some cartwheel while others do handsprings or backflips.

Hyena

There are four different species!

Ibex

Can jump over 6 feet straight up from a standstill

Ibis

Found in swamps, marshes and wetlands!

Impala

Able to jump over 10 feet high

Indri

The largest species of Lemur!

Insects

There are an estimated 30 million species!

Jackal

Can maintain speeds of 16 km/h!

Jackson’s Chameleon

Have jousting battles with their horns.

Jerboa

Tiny rodent with a kangaroo-like jump!

Kingfisher

Inhabits wetlands and woodlands worldwide!

Kudu

Lives in herds of up to 24 individuals!

Ladybug

There are more than 5,000 species worldwide!

Leaf-Tailed Gecko

Only found on Madagascar!

Lemur

Natively found on the island of Madagascar!

Leopard

Spends much of the time high in the trees!

Leopard Tortoise

The most widely distributed tortoise in Africa!

Liger

The offspring of a lion and tiger parents!

Lion

Lives in small groups called prides!

Lizard

There are around 5,000 different species!

Locust

Each locust can eat its weight in plants each day.

Lungfish

The lungfish first evolved almost 400 million years ago.

Magpie

They are found across Europe, Asia and Africa!

Mallard

With an appropriate tail wind, the mallard can travel hundreds of miles a day

Mandrill

Distinctively coloured noses and rumps!

Mantella Frog

Some of the smallest and most brightly colored frogs in the world

Marabou Stork

The marabou stork does not have a voice box.

Mayfly

There are 2,500 known species worldwide!

Mealybug

They have a symbiotic relationship with ants.

Meerkat

One will stand on guard to watch for predators!

Millipede

Some species have a poisonous bite!

Mole

Primarily hunts and feeds on Earthworms!

Mole Cricket

Adult Mole crickets may fly as far as 5 miles during mating season and are active most of the year.

Monarch Butterfly

During migration, Monarch Butterflies may travel 250 or more miles each day.

Mongoose

Range in size from just 1 to 3 foot!

Mongrel

Has characteristics of two or more breeds!

Monitor Lizard

Some species are thought to carry a weak venom!

Monkey

There are around 260 known species!

Moorhen

Feeds on aquatic insects and water-spiders!

Moth

There are 250,000 different species!

Mountain Gorilla

Isolated populations found in the mountains!

Mouse

Found on every continent on Earth!

Mule

The offspring of a horse and donkey parents!

Myna Bird

For a nice price, the mynah bird makes a good pet.

Naked Mole Rat

Naked mole rats don’t get cancer

Nigerian Goat

Produces a lot of milk for its small size

Nightingale

Named more than 1,000 years ago!

Nile Crocodile

When a female Nile crocodile’s hatchlings are in danger, she may hide them in a special pouch inside her throat.

No See Ums

There are more than 5,000 species.

Okapi

Eats more than 100 different types of plant!

Orb Weaver

Females are about four times the size of males

Ostrich

The largest bird in the world!

Otter

There are 13 different species worldwide

Pangolin

Bad eyesight, but great sense of smell

Parakeet

Monk parakeets are the only parakeets that actually build nests. They’re also the only parakeets to nest in great colonies.

Parrot

Can live for up to 100 years!

Patas Monkey

The fastest species of primate in the world!

Peacock

Most commonly found on the Indian mainland!

Peregrine Falcon

Fastest animal on Earth

Pheasant

Females lay between 8 and 12 eggs per clutch!

Pigeon

They can find their way back to their nests from up to 1300 miles away.

Puss Moth

Caterpillars squirt formic acid!

Pygmy Hippopotamus

Spends more time on land than in water!

Quagga

The quagga is a subspecies of plains zebra.

Quail

Inhabits woodland and forest areas worldwide!

Rabbit

There are more than 50 different species!

Radiated Tortoise

The most protected tortoise in the world!

Rat

Omnivores that eat anything!

Red Fox

The red fox actually has many different variations of fur, including silver and brown.

Rhinoceros

It's horns are made from keratin!

River Turtle

Inhabits freshwater habitats around the world!

Robin

There are more than 45 species in Australia alone!

Rock Hyrax

Actually related to Elephants and Manatees!

Rodents

The capybara, the world’s largest rodent, likes to be in and around bodies of water. Because of this, the Catholic Church in South America decided that it was a fish, and people were allowed to eat it during Lent and First Fridays.

Satanic leaf-tailed gecko

They are called “phants” or “satanics” in the pet trade.

Savanna Goat

Savanna goats have only existed since 1957.

Scimitar-horned Oryx

Believed to be the inspiration for unicorn myths!

Scorpion

There are around 2,000 known species!

Seahorse

Males give birth to up to 1,000 offspring!

Senegal Parrot

As a pet, the Senegal parrot is capable of "talking" to its owner

Serval

Can leap more than 1 meter into the air!

Sheep

Around 35 million in the English countryside!

Shoebill Stork

Adults greet each other by clattering their bills together.

Shrimp

There are 2,000 different species worldwide!

Skink Lizard

Some skinks lay eggs in some habitats while giving birth to skinklets in other habitats.

Slug

They glide around on one foot, which is aided by the slime they produce

Snail

There are nearly 1,000 different species!

Snake

There are around 3,000 known species worldwide

Sparrow

There are 140 different species!

Spider Wasp

They prey on spiders to feed their larvae or they parasitize other spider wasps.

Springbok

The springbok has a large tuft of hair that emerges from a pouch on the back

Squirrel

Small rodents found in woodlands worldwide!

Stick Insect

There are more than 3,000 different species!

Striped Hyena

The striped hyenas usually mark their territories with the help of the scent gland secretions from their anal pouch.

Sulcata Tortoise

Some cultures in Africa believe the sulcata tortoise is an intermediary between the people and their ancestors and gods.

Swan

Populations have been affected by pollution!

Tarantula Hawk

Tarantula hawks are excellent pollinators, especially for milkweed.

Termite

Their mounds can be up to 9 meters tall!

Thrush

The American robin is called the robin because its red breast reminded European settlers of the robin back in the old country.

Tiger Beetle

The adult tiger beetle is one of the fastest land insects in the world

Tortoise

Can live until they are more than 150 years old!

Tree Frog

Found in warmer jungles and forests!

Tsetse Fly

Tsetse flies are large biting flies that live in the tropical regions of Africa.

Turtles

Some species of aquatic turtles can get up to 70 percent of their oxygen through their butt.

Vervet Monkey

Rarely found more than 450m from trees!

Vinegaroon

Vinegaroons can spray 19 times before the glands are depleted

Vulture

There are 30 different species worldwide!

Warthog

Has two sets of tusks on it's face!

Wasp

There are around 75,000 recognised species!

Water Buffalo

Has been domesticated for thousands of years!

Western Gorilla

There are two sub-species!

Western Lowland Gorilla

One of the great apes!

White Butterfly

This butterfly determines the smell and taste of a flower with its feet.

White Rhinoceros

The second largest animal on the land!

Wildebeest

Can trek more than 1,000 miles every year!

Willow Warbler

This bird molts twice a year.

Wolf

Thought to date back more than 300,000 years!

Wolf Spider

Carnivorous arachnid that hunts its prey.

Woodlouse

This animal can roll up into a ball

Woodlouse Spider

Unlike most spiders, woodlouse spiders don’t build a web.

Woodpecker

There are 200 different species!

Xerus

Squirrel that lives in burrows in Africa.

Zebra

Stripe patterns are unique to each individual!

Zebu

There are around 75 different species!

Zonkey

The offspring of Zebra and Donkey parents!

Zorse

The offspring of a Zebra and Horse parents!

African Animals List

Animals in Africa FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

What are other animals native to Africa?

Greater Kudu
Common Ostrich
African Civet
Dik-Dik
Wildebeest
Great Wild Crane
Mantled Guereza
Hartebeest
Warthog
Spotted Hyena
Okapi

What is an unusual animal one wouldn't expect to find in Africa?

There is a penguin colony in South Africa. The west coast near the Cape has cold Antarctic currents.

What are some of Africa's world records with regards to animals?

  • Four out of five of the world’s fastest land animals: The fastest is the cheetah, with speeds of 70mph. The wildebeest, lion and Thomson’s gazelle all run at about 50mph.
  • The world’s biggest frog: The Goliath frog is in Cameroon. It can grow to one foot long.
  • The world’s smallest butterfly: The Dwarf Blue Butterfly has a wingspan of only 0.5″ and is in South Africa.
  • The world’s largest and smallest chameleons: Both in Madagascar, which contains about half of all chameleon species in the world.
    The only place you can find shoals of fresh water sardines: They are in Lake Tanganyika.
  • The world’s largest and heaviest beetle: The Goliath beetle can grow to 5 inches in length and weigh up to 0.25lbs. It lives in tropical Africa.
  • The largest primate, the Gorilla: Males weigh up to 200kg.
  • The largest cat, the Lion: It is also the largest of all African carnivores and an apex predator in any African ecosystem.
  • The second largest reptile, after the saltwater crocodile: The Nile crocodile grows to 5m or 20ft in length on average.
  • The largest seal colony in the southern hemisphere: Cape Cross in Namibia.

What are some extinct animals in Africa?

Animals in Africa that went extinct recently are the Northern White Rhino (2018) and the Western Black Rhino (2006). The next most recent extinct animal was the Bubal Hartebeest (1923).