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25 Animals in Africa that you should know about

25 Animals in Africa that you should know about

What African animals do you know? In this article, you can read about 25 interesting animals in Africa that I think you should know about before you travel there. 

In addition to that, I’ve also listed some other common animals from Africa that you might encounter. 

What kind of animals live in Africa?

Africa is home to the Big Five, which consists of the Lion, Leopard, Rhinoceros, Elephant, and the Cape Buffalo. But there are also plenty of other animals living in Africa ranging from small mammals to large mammals as well as reptiles, vertebrates and various kinds of birds and insects. 

1. The Dung beetle

Of all the African animals this is one of my absolute favorites. The dung beetle can be seen rolling huge piles of dung for long distances. They even fight over dung balls, and I just find it too funny that they’re rolling around shit. 


Photo: Shutterstock

2. African Wild dog

This is not your typical dog, but rather an impressive hunter that is sadly listed as an endangered species. The African wild dog is characterized by its large ears, tail and spotted fur. 

African Wild Dog

Photo. Shutterstock

3. Klipspringer

This is the smallest kind of antelope, and they are mostly active during the night. They don’t grow taller than 43–60 centimeters (17–24 in).

The Klipspringer live in Sudan, Eritrea, northern Somalia, and Ethiopia as well as South Africa, Angola, and Namibia.


Photo: Shutterstock

4. Dugong

Did you know that there is such an animal as the sea cow? The dugong is grazing on the bottom and can be found on the African East Coast. 


Photo: Shutterstock

5. Gorillas

One of our closest living relatives in the animal world. There are two types of gorillas, Eastern Gorillas, and Western Gorillas. Both of them are endemic to Africa and is listed as a critically endangered species. 

They are the biggest of all apes and are famous for their knuckle-walking. 

Mountain Gorilla

Photo: Shutterstock

6. Meerkat

One of the cutest animals that live in Africa. The meerkat became especially famous after the Lion King where one of the main characters (Timon) is a meerkat.

The meerkats live in packs and are known for standing on two legs when watching out for predators while the other meerkats are digging around for food. 


Photo: Shutterstock

7. Fennec Fox

This little fox is one of the most peculiar animals in Africa, and they are characterized by their “abnormal” large ears. They live in the deserts in northern Africa and mainly eats insects, birds, and small mammals.

Fennec Fox

Photo: Shutterstock

8. Baboon

There are several types of Baboons living in Africa and they vary in size and weight depending on the species. However, one of the most famous things about the baboon is their pink bottom. 

In Africa, they are getting closer to human settlements, and in some villages, they are known to be raiding for food and “valuables” quite frequently. 


Photo: Shutterstock

9. Bushbaby

This is not the typical animal you will see while visiting Africa, but it’s definitely one of the rare animals in Africa that you should know about.

The bushbaby or Galago as it’s also known as is a nocturnal animal that is known for its big eyes with bat-like ears. 


Photo: Shutterstock

10. Okapi

Another rare animal in Africa is the Okapi, which can only be found in the Democratic Republic of Congo. While you might think of a zebra while seeing the Okapi, they are more related to giraffes and is sometimes known as the forest giraffe since it lives in the rainforest. 


Photo: Shutterstock

11. Porcupine

Another funny looking animal in Africa is the porcupine, which is a large rodent with sharp spines on its back. This serves as protection against predators. 


Photo: Shutterstock

12. Desert Warthog

Another African animal that became beloved by the world after the Disney Movie Lion King is the warthog. If you haven’t guessed it already, Pumba is a warthog and they can be seen in several places. 

desert warthog

Photo: Shutterstock

13. Hyena

When thinking about animals living in Africa, many think of the Hyena, which has become famous for its “laughing” sound. They are very vocal and make various sounds that can be heard in the African nights from a distance far away.


Photo: Shutterstock

14. Lion

Lions can be found almost all over Africa, and while they are most famous for inhabiting the savanna, they can also be found in desert areas and grasslands. 


Photo: Shutterstock

15. African Elephant

Another pride of Africa, the African Elephant, which is also the largest living land animal. A full-grown male elephant can way up to 4,700–6,048 kg (10,362–13,334 lb) and grow 3.2–4 m (10–13 ft) tall. 

In Africa, there are two elephant species, the African Bush elephant, and the smaller one known as the African forest elephant. 

African Elephant

Photo: Shutterstock

16. The Grey Crowned Crane

Of all the birds in Africa, the Grey Crowned Crane might be the most impressive one to look at. 

The Grey Crowned Crane

Photo: Shutterstock

17. The Nile Crocodile

The second largest of all crocodiles in the world. The Nile Crocodile can reach lengths of 5 meters (16.4 ft) and can weigh up to 750 kg (1,650 lb).

The nile crocodile

Photo: Shutterstock

18. Wildebeest

You have probably heard of the great migration from Serengeti to Masai Mara. This is the phenomenon where millions of wildebeest make their annual journey between the national parks. 


Photo: Shutterstock

19. Giraffe

The tallest animal in the world is the giraffe, and they can be found in several African countries ranging from Chad to South Africa. 


Photo: Shutterstock

20. Rhinoceros

Perhaps one of the most recognized animals living on the African continent, known for their horn and massive body. In Africa, you can see both white and black rhinoceros, and they are listed as an endangered species. 

African rhinoceros

Photo: Shutterstock

21. Hippo

A herbivorous animal with massive jaws and a powerful bite. They are the third-largest land mammal and an adult male has an average weight of 1500 kg.

They are known for being territorial and can get aggressive when coming too close, which is also the reason why it’s known as one of the deadliest African animals. 


Photo: Shutterstock

22. Cheetah

The cheetah is the world’s fastest land animals, and they can reach speeds up to 100 – 120 km/h (62-74.5 mph).


Photo: Shutterstock

23. Impala

This is another fast African animal and they live mostly in the southern part of Africa. The Impala is a type of Antelope. 


Photo: Shutterstock

24. Black Mamba

The name of this snake is a bit confusing since its appearance is brown/olive. However, the inside of its mouth including the tongue has an inky black color. 

It is one of the most dangerous snakes on the African continent. 

black mamba

Photo: Shutterstock

25. Chimpanzee

Our closest relative is still living on the African continent. The Chimpanzee shares 96% of the same DNA with humans, and they are one of the few animals that use tools to get food. 


Photo: Shutterstock

Other common African animals

There are many different kinds of animal species living in Africa, and beside the 25 already mentioned above, here are some other common animals in Africa that you might possibly encounter. 

Zebra Leopard
Antelope Grey Crowned-crane
African Civet Oryx
Guereza colobus Bonobo
Ostrich Cape Buffalo
Jackal Vulture
Mongoose Serval
Aardvark Kudu/Greater Kudu
Barn owl Flamingo
Kingfisher Scorpion
Millipede Ibis
Chameleon Cichlid (fish)
Elephant Shrew Xerus (African squirrel)
Mandrill Lemurs
Snakes Spiders

African Leopard

One of the big cats of Africa included in the Big Five. The African leopard is truly an amazing creature especially known for their fur pattern and speed. 

African animals - leopard

Photo: Shutterstock

Cape Buffalo

Last but not least of the Big Five animals, the Cape Buffalo. They are the only buffalo that are native to the African continent, and they can weigh up to 590 kg. 

Cape Buffalo

Photo: Shutterstock


One of the most characteristic animals in Africa thanks to its black stripes. They belong to the horse family, and the different species of Zebras have varying patterns. 


Photo: Shutterstock

Which animals are only found in Africa?

For the sake of this list, only animals that are endemic to Africa are listed below. 

  • Okapi
  • Galago
  • Shoebill
  • Mantled Guereza
  • Zebra
  • Mandrill
  • Lemur
  • Ostrich
  • The African Elephant
  • Hippo
  • African Buffalo
  • Cheetah
  • Giraffe
  • Wildebeest
  • African Wild Dog
  • Gorilla
  • Serval

There are even more endemic African animals, but these are some of the most well-known animals that can only be found in Africa. 

Mantled Guereza

Photo: Shutterstock

Most dangerous animals in Africa

  • Mosquitoes (spreads malaria that kills more than 1 million Africans a year)
  • Puff Adder (the deadliest snake in Africa)
  • Black mamba (another dangerous snake in Africa)
  • Tsetse fly (causing sleeping sickness)
  • Dogs (spread of Rabies)
  • Crocodiles (reports of several hundred attacks per year)
  • The Great White Shark (One of the most powerful animals in Africa, not the deadliest though)
  • Hippos (one of the most dangerous animals in Africa, keep a safe distance)
Puff adder

Photo: Shutterstock

The TseTse fly is spreading the sleeping sickness, which attacks your central nervous system and can lead to death. It is caused by parasites that have infected the TseTse fly and is spread when they bite humans. 

tsetse fly

Photo: Shutterstock

Endangered Animals in Africa

Poaching and loss of habitat are the main threats for the African animals. These are some of the most endangered animals in Africa, some of which are near extinction with less than 1000 population. 

Pangolin Ethiopian wolf
Elephant Shrew African penguin
Lion Cheeta
Black rhinoceros African wild dog
Gorillas Bonobo
Addax Pygmy Hippopotamus
Leatherback turtle Riverine rabbit
Knysna seahorse Golden Moles
African White-Backed Vulture White rhinoceros
Whale shark Chimpanzee

Photo: Shutterstock

Threats that African animals are facing

  • Poaching (tusks, bones, and fur/hides)
  • Illegal pet trade
  • Trophy hunting
  • Loss of habitat
  • Hunting for human food
  • Climate change
Poaching animals in Africa

Photo: Marcel Brekelmans /

How you can help the animals in Africa

  • Raise awareness of poaching and speak up against it on social media
  • Condemn all kinds of trophy hunting
  • Support local organizations in Africa that protects their natural habitats
  • Choose tour operators and safari companies that respect the wildlife
  • Show your support to park rangers that ensure the safety of the national parks
Help the animals in Africa

Photo: Shutterstock

Which are your favorite animals in Africa? Leave a comment below!

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