Below you can find a complete list of Cameroonian animals. We currently track 278 animals in Cameroon and are adding more every day!
Located along the coast of West Africa, Cameroon is a mid-sized country, about 70% as large as Texas, with a complex ecosystem of savannas, tropical forests, coastal mangroves, deserts, and mountainous terrain, the highest point of which is Mount Cameroon. As a microcosm of the entire continent of Africa, the country is rich in primates, cats, rodents, reptiles, birds, and insects.
The tropical forests of Cameroon are a vital part of the Congo Basin ecosystem and provide a source of livelihood for communities and habitats for over 9,000 plant species, 900 bird species, and around 320 mammals including the endangered western lowland gorilla and chimpanzee. The northern region of Cameroon contains the largest hippo population in West-central Africa.
There are more than 200 ethnic groups living in Cameroon, the oldest inhabitants being the Pygmies, who live in small hunting bands in the southern forests. These hunters and gatherers have lived in the forests for thousands of years, with their populations declining along with the forests themselves.
The Official National Animal of Cameroon
The closest thing Cameroon has to a national animal is the lion. Lions are big cats whose iconic appearance is easily recognizable to anyone. Second, only to tigers in size among the big cats, male lions grow to 2.1 meters (7 feet) in length and weigh up to 230kg (500 lbs). Females, or lionesses, are smaller and weigh up to 180kg (396 lbs). Lions have short coats that range in color from buff-yellow, orange-brown to dark brown with a darker tuft on the tips of their tails. Male lions sport magnificent manes that are usually full and shaggy, covering the back of their heads, neck, shoulders, and chest.
Lions are social animals who live in groups called prides, consisting of one – three males, a dozen or more lionesses who are mostly related, and the young. The lionesses are the hunters for the group, with the large male serving as the protector of the pride and its territory.
Lions are masters of the ambush attack and are among the most patient of animals who lie in stealth until the right moment to pounce. They can take down prey much larger than themselves using their incredible strength plus teamwork.
Largest Animal in Cameroon
The largest land animal on the planet, the elephant can weigh up to 12,000 pounds and stand 12 feet tall. Grayish-brown in color with a leathery, thick hide, these giants tower over every other animal in their paths except giraffes, with enough strength to push over trees and trample their enemies.
Elephants are distinguished by their huge bodies, sturdy legs, thin tails, large rounded ears, long strong trunks, and ivory tusks. The tusks, which grow throughout the animal’s life, allow the elephant to dig for food and water, defend itself, and lift heavy objects. Their thick, wrinkled hide can retain 10 times the amount of water as would smooth skin, making it perfect for warm climates.
One of the few species to exhibit self-awareness and self-recognition, the elephant is also one of the most intelligent animals on the planet. They have an excellent ability to learn and to remember and have been recorded using tools like a fly swatter. Elephants are capable of experiencing profound emotion and mourning their dead. The entire herd bands together to protect the weak and the young.
Rarest Animal in Cameroon
The critically endangered black rhino is native to Cameroon but there hasn’t been a sighting of one in so long that some consider it already extinct in the country. There may be a few left – so the black rhino might be the rarest animal in Cameroon today.
This large species of rhinoceros can weigh up to 3,100 pounds and are typically a dark gray color. They browse on grasses and when succulent plants are available, can survive without water. Rhinos can dig for water in dry riverbeds and are uniquely adapted to life in dry conditions.
Black rhinos were abundant in Africa, with numbers in the millions, until around 1900 when rampant poaching of their horns began reducing the population to 2,400 by 1995. Today, they live primarily in small sanctuaries throughout Africa and on some game reserves. The future of the black rhino outside parks and reserves is bleak.
Where to Find the Top Wild Animals in Cameroon
Cameroon is rich in national parks and wildlife reserves, including the Waza National Park in the north (which contains both forest and savanna animals), including predators such as lions, leopards, cheetahs, and hyenas.
The Campo Ma’an National Park in the southwest is a biodiversity hotspot, with a wide range of plant and animal species including elephants, hippos, leopards, and plenty of primates. The park is considered a priority landscape for harboring the critically endangered western lowland gorilla and chimpanzee.
The Dja Faunal Reserve (a UNESCO World Heritage site), is one of the largest and best-protected rainforests in Africa, with 90% of its area undisturbed. The area is almost completely surrounded by the natural boundary of the Dja River and is noted for its biodiversity and wide range of primates. 107 mammal species can be seen – five of which are threatened.
The Most Dangerous Animals in Cameroon Today
Although not listed among the most iconic African animals, the tiny mosquito is definitely the most dangerous animal in Cameroon and the world. The many species of mosquito carry a number of fatal diseases including Yellow Fever, Zika virus, West Nile virus, Dengue Fever, and Malaria. Between them, these diseases kill an estimated one million Africans every year.
Nile Crocodile – As one of the largest and most dangerous predators in the world, the Nile crocodile can be very deadly. It is known to kill many people every year.
Hippopotamus – Large and aggressive, the hippo can be quite deadly when trying to defend its territory from intruders.
Snakes – Cameroon is home to a diverse array of snakes, including the large but non-venomous predators, like the African rock python, and the more venomous snakes, like the green bush viper. Some snakes use their venom as a form of defense, while other predators also use it to subdue prey. But only a few species are truly deadly to humans.
Endangered Animals in Cameroon
It is hard to imagine, but there is a commercial trade in bushmeat throughout west and central Africa that is the biggest threat to gorillas today. Apes are being killed to supply demand for meat in urban centers, where the consumption of ape meat is considered to be prestigious amongst the wealthy.
Gorillas share 98.3% of their genetic code with humans, making them close relatives after only chimpanzees and bonobos. They are the largest of the great apes with bread chests and shoulders, large, human-like hands, and small eyes set in hairless faces. Gorillas live in family groups of five to 10 and are led by a dominant male.
Endangered animals in Cameroon include:
Chimpanzee – Cameroon is home to two subspecies of chimpanzees, both of which are endangered.
Western Gorilla – Cameroon is one of the few countries in the world where you can see a wild gorilla. Unfortunately, this species has been endangered by deforestation, poaching, civil war, and disease.
Drill – A close relative of the baboon and mandrill, this species is a large, short-tailed monkey that lives in the rainforests.
The Flag of Cameroon
The flag of Cameroon was adopted in 1975 and displays the traditional Pan-African colors of green, red, and yellow. The sun is represented by yellow, green signifies Cameroon’s southern woods, and red, with the center star, represents unity.
The Pan-African colors of the flag are used by many African countries in the region, such as Senegal, Guinea, and Mali.
Instead of the typically banded or ‘alien head’ patterning of most ball python morphs, the Mojave morph’s patterning is characterized by lots of large, circular splotches with small, dark brown dots in their centers.
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.
After a career of working to provide opportunities for local communities to experience and create art, I am enjoying having time to write about two of my favorite things - nature and animals. Half of my life is spent outdoors, usually with my husband and sweet little fourteen year old dog. We love to take walks by the lake and take photos of the animals we meet including: otters, ospreys, Canadian geese, ducks and nesting bald eagles. I also enjoy reading, discovering books to add to my library, collecting and playing vinyl, and listening to my son's music.
Animals in Cameroon FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
What extinct species once lived in Cameroon?
A subspecies of the black rhino once roamed West Africa, but it is now completely extinct.