african Animals

African animals display the widest variety in size and structure of any of the continents.

Africa is the worlds second largest continent with almost 12 million square miles of tropical rain forests, deserts and vast savannas. There are over one million species of animals in Africa, including both the heaviest (elephants) and the tallest (giraffes) land animals on Earth.

Our closest relatives, the chimpanzee and the bonobo, continue to change and evolve here, and the most dazzling and desperate displays of wildlife unfold on this steamy and dangerous stage.

Africa is a wonderland for animal lovers, and a schoolroom for anyone who wants to learn about nature, beauty and the rythym of life. - African Animals

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The wondrous herds

The most abundant animals in Africa are the antelopes which cover the entire continent in small clusters or awesome herds of some 80 species.

The incredible antelope family includes the impala, the gazelle and the widebeest.

Although they resemble deer, and fill the same ecological niche, antelopes differ from deer in that they have permanent horns on their heads instead of antlers. Horns do not have branches as antlers do, and they do not fall off and regrow. 

The Great Apes

hyena mother and baby

All of the great apes are native to Africa except the orangutan, which is native to Borneo.

The chimpanzee, the bonobo or pygmy chimpanzee, and the Eastern lowland, Eastern mountain, and Western gorillas all live in the jungles of central Africa.

They are all harshly impacted by farming and deforestation and are all endangered species.

The great apes are some of the few animals, along with whales and elephants, that display an understanding of self similar to our own, and, of course, they are our closest living relatives. 

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crouching hippo

hippo on the prowl
crouching hippocrouching hippo

If you journey to the gigantic continent of Africa, you will find yourself in a land that contains some of the most dangerous creatures on Earth.

While lions, leopards and elephants have all caused human fatalities, and the beautiful cape buffalo is actually extremely dangerous, by far the deadliest African animal is the relatively sweet looking hippopotamus.

Ask any game warden, big game hunter or native African and they will tell you that hippos are not just huge and fearless, but also often so ruthlessly aggressive that they have been known to capsize small boats just to get a mouthful of hapless occupants.

The cumbersome looking hippopotamus is actually remarkably fast on land and graceful and swift in the water. It has massive jaws, and its upper palate is wider than a pizza delivery box!

Chubby and balding, yes. But don't tell him that to his face!

a few more African Animal facts

elephants and zebras mingling
  • The horn of the African rhinoceros is made of keratin- not matted hair as once believed. Usually only about 20 inches long, the longest horn on record was almost 5 feet!
  • The African lion has the longest larynx - and therefore the loudest roar of all the "Big Cats"
  • The 4 to 5ft long African cheetah has a 20ft stride - Amazing!
  • Albino African zebras occasionally occur in the wild. Often called "golden zebras" they are not true albinos, but have pale tan or golden stripes and light brown or even blue eyes
  • African Aardvarks are living fossils not having changed for millions of years.

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AnimalExtremeCloseup - African Wild Dog

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