Africa is a lot of things. A melting pot of vibrant culture, peerless history, picturesque sceneries that appears untouched since Earth was made, several wonders of the world, and for what they’re most famous for, immense wildlife. But did you know that besides the great “Big Five” and the mind-blowing migratory hooves are some of the world’s most endangered species in Africa?
The governing body to list and rank threatened species is the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature). They used a criteria that include population size, a rate of decline and area of geographic distribution to classify these threatened species. Before being classified as extinct, these are the 3 main conservation categories:
- Critically endangered: Extremely high risk of extinction in the wild
- Endangered: High risk of extinction in the wild
- Vulnerable: High risk of endangerment in the wild
Due to poaching, habitat loss, deforestation, and displacement, the number of certain animals are depleting in Africa.
5 Most endangered species in Africa
#5 African wild dog
Scientific name: Lycaon pictus
One of the endangered species in Africa is known as African hunting dog, African painted dog, painted hunting dog, or painted wolf, the African wild dog typically roams the plains of sub-Saharan Africa. Despite being dogs which are famous for being “man’s best friend”, these canid members do not display any traits of being one. In fact, they are very reproachful to species outside of their own.
Wild dogs are nomadic animals. They can traverse 50km in a single day. With very agile and coordinated packs, they boast an 80% success rate with hunts, making them arguably Africa’s most effective predators. Sadly, though, African wild dogs are now endangered with only about 5,000 of them left in the world.
Where to find them: You can find African wild dogs in South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Laikipia in Kenya, northern Botsana and Tanzania. But the best place to see them is at Selous Game Reserve in Tanzania, which holds the largest population of wild dogs in Africa.
#4 Rothschild’s Giraffe
Scientific name: Giraffa camelopardis rothschildi
Once free ranging across western Kenya, western Ethiopia, southern South Sudan and Uganda, one of the endangered species in Africa is the Rothschild’s Giraffe has been greatly eliminated from their usual range. With 1,671 left in the wild as of 2016, the Rothschild’s Giraffe (also known as Ugandan or Baringo Giraffe) is one of the most endangered animals and threatened species in the world.
The Rothschild’s is the tallest land animal in the world. In the Serengeti, they’re called “the watchtowers of the Serengeti” because they alert other animals when predators are at least 2 kilometers close. These towering mammals are also known for their tails. In fact, they have the longest tail any land mammal has. Its tongue is also long, measuring 17 inches and prehensile.
Rothschild’s giraffes mainly inhabit the savannas, shrublands, grasslands and open woodlands across Africa but due to loss of habitat, poaching, and hunting, these giraffe subspecies now only exist within protected areas in Kenya and Uganda, particularly in Lake Nakuru National Park and Murchison Falls National Park.
Where to find them: According to a 2016 report, 40% of the remaining Rothschild’s giraffes live in national parks and the rest of the 60% live across Uganda. The best parks to see these long necks are Lake Nakuru National Park in Kenya and Murchison Falls National Park in Uganda. Lucky for you, this 2 days Amazing Lake Nakuru Safari is available. Not only will you see these endangered long necks, you will also have a chance to spot black rhinos among other unique animals!
#3 Ethiopian wolf
Scientific name: Canis simensis
Status: Critically endangered
Native to the Ethiopian highlands, another endangered species in Africa the Ethiopian wolf is the world’s rarest canid and Africa’s most endangered carnivore. Also referred to as Simien Fox or Abyssinian Wolf, the Ethiopian wolf is now critically endangered mainly due to fatal diseases like rabies, as well as habitat destruction and degradation, road killings, etc. The estimated number of Ethiopian wolves in Africa is around 500.
Where to find them: Ethiopian wolves are mainly seen in the Ethiopian Highlands. Simien Mountains National Park, which lies in Ethiopia, also offers plenty of opportunities to spot them.
#2 Mountain gorilla
Scientific name: Gorilla beringei beringei
Status: Critically endangered
Thanks to movies like King Kong, gorillas are one of the most feared animals in the world. But did you know that deep down inside, they are also gentle creatures? These great apes are a subspecies of the Eastern Gorilla but are generally larger than other gorillas. In reality, these mountain gorillas are not aggressive towards humans unless they are threatened. Sadly, they are now one of the endangered species in Africa their population count is now precariously low. This is due to forest degradation, human encroachment, and regional political instability.
Now, the total world population of Mountain gorillas is just about 900. More than half of them live in the Virunga Mountains which lies along three countries: Rwanda, Uganda, and Republic in Congo. The rest are found solely in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park in Uganda.
Here’s something interesting about Mountain Gorillas: They can usually be found in groups of up to 30 apes. These troops are led by one Alpha Male, often called a Silverback because of the silver hair adorned on his back.
Where to find them: The best places to see these great apes are Uganda and Rwanda. If you find yourself in Uganda and you’re looking to experience spine-tingling gorilla trekking safaris, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest will not disappoint you. If you’re in Rwanda or are going to Rwanda, Volcanoes National Park offers gorilla trekking as well.
Here’s an exemplary way to see these great apes: 3 Days Gorilla Trekking Safari in Uganda. The tour takes you to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and even to Lake Bunyonyi!
#1 Black Rhino
Scientific name: Diceros bicornis
Status: Critically endangered
Rhinos are one of the first animals anyone can think of when imagining Africa. They are one of the famous “Big Five” animals and their stature is one of the most iconic when photographed. However, due to poaching, civil unrest, hunting, and habitat loss, they are now considered as critically endangered species in Africa. In fact, of the 4 subspecies of black rhinos, 1 subspecies (West African black rhino) is already declared extinct. Also, there are only about 3,500 black rhinos left in the world today.
Black rhinos are often used in traditional medicines and ornamental use, too. Their horns currently sell for more than its weight in gold, which is also why these animals are pushed to the brink of extinction.
Where to find them: Black rhinos are spread out across Southern Africa and East Africa, mainly in South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, and Kenya. Tanzania also hosts some of them. Higher chances of spotting these black rhinos in Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park in South Africa, Desert Rhino Camp in Namibia, Ol Pejeta in Kenya and Lake Manyara as well as Serengeti ecosystem in Tanzania. The 4 Days Tanzania Safari is an excellent safari which takes you to Lake Manyara National Park to see an incredible array of wildlife including black rhinos.
Africa is blessed with incredible natural beauty that cannot be easily found anywhere else in the world. It doesn’t run out of amazing things to show its visitors, whether it’s their first, third or even their twentieth time. Part of the natural beauty that can hardly be found someplace else are the endangered animals. It’s your time to see the endangered species in Africa, treat them as the most precious godsend creatures and at the same time, hopefully, do something to support Conservancy programs to save them.