Africa has for millennia been a dwelling for a wide variety of wild animals. This has been supported by its favorable warm climate and quintessential tropical flora. However, as time goes by some of the African wildlife has gone into extinction due to poaching and other human wildlife conflicts. Other varieties have been saved from extinction through conservation efforts in some cases leading to significant success. In this guide we will share details about the vulnerable, endangered and critically endangered animals in Africa and where you can find them.
Northern white Rhinos
Though most of the rhino varieties are endangered mainly due to poaching for their horns, the northern white Rhinos are the most endangered subspecies. These large animals used to dwell in parts of sudan, eastern congo and western Uganda. Unfortunately, there are only two remaining female northern white rhinos in the planet today; fatu and Najin. The two are in a highly guarded 700 acres piece of wilderness in ol pejeta conservancy in Kenya. Sudan, an old northern white rhino and the last male in earth died without an offspring despite several attempt to have him impregnate one of the two females. This led to an almost certain extinction. However, concerted efforts are being made to artificially narture embryos and possibly salvage the dire situation. The enclosure is open for tourist with specialist guides who will teach you more about the two rhinos and the effort being made to salvage the subspecies.
What is different between the black rhinos and White rhinos is that black rhinos have a darker skin while the white rhinos are greyish. Black rhinos also have a smaller head while the white rhinos have longer less defined head. There are only 6000 black rhinos remaining in the world today. This is however an increase from to 2300 in early 1990s. This has been achieved as a result of conservation efforts being made in Kenya’s Laikipia plains and south Africa. However, the 3 subspecies of black rhinos – eastern, southern and northern black rhinos- are still ranked as critically endangered animals. Ol Pejeta, Nairobi national park, lewa, solio and borana conservancies are some of the places you can see these unique creatures in East Africa.
Cheetahs are the most endangered of the big cats of Africa. There are less than 7000 cheetahs left in the world most of them living in Africa. Some of the reasons why these big cats are nearly extinct are continuous destruction of their habitat, poaching and that these cats have a very low birth rate. Cheetahs prefers staying in the open savannah and are well known for their fastness when pursuing their targets reaching up to 120 Km per hour. Whereas these big cats have gone extinct or are in extremely low in numbers in most of the parks in East Africa there is still an impressive population in Ruaha, Serengeti, selous and Masai Mara. Since these big cats like climbing rocks from where they can spot a target in the plains; the rocky eastern Serengeti plains are the most popular cheetah territories where you are guaranteed of sighting some in your first few minutes of your game drives.
Today there are only 24000 lions remaining in the world, with most of them remaining in national parks in East and Southern Africa. These big cats have declined over the years for the unending conflict with the pastoral communities who dwell in the African savannah. Some parks like Amboseli boasted an impressive lion population in the late 20th century but the number drastically declined to almost being completely wiped out as a result of massive killing by masai warrior who fancied killing the big cats for fame and honour in the community. Today Tanzania is the best destination where you can sight lions with over 15000 individuals dwelling in different parks in the country. Serengeti, ruaha and selous has over 2000 lions each. Other major lion destinations in East Africa include: Masai Mara, Amboseli, Samburu, Ngorongoro, Tsavo, Ol Pejeta, mikumi and Tarangire.
There are only 1000 mountain gorillas remaining in the wild today. The fascinating primates are majorly located in the eastern congo parks of Bwindi impenetrable forest (Uganda), Virunga (DRC) and Volcanoes (Rwanda). The primates live in families some time going to over 20 individuals. Each family has one dominant male. Importantly, mountain gorillas are the closest primate to human being and are vulnerable to diseases common in humans. Studies show that there is only a difference of 1.6% in their DNA compared to humans. These primates can live to over 40 years. To learn more about these creatures you should consider going for a gorilla trekking tour in one of the 3 parks. Here you will have an opportunity to come across one of the habituated gorilla families.
Rothschild giraffe are the most endangered of the varieties of giraffes. There are about 3000 Rothschild giraffe ranging in Kenya and Uganda. This number is however an increase from the late 20th century thanks to the conservation efforts being made to salvage these towering animals from extinction. What set apart Rothschilds from the reticulated giraffe and Masai Giraffes is that the Rothschilds has well regular brown patches with cream spacing while reticulated giraffes has regular but bright chest nut patterns and white spacing and masai giraffes are like reticulated giraffes but with irregular patterns. The Rothschild giraffes are very peaceable and do not shy away when at close range with humans. The giraffe center in Nairobi Kenya which includes the giraffe manor hotel is the best location where you can spot these creatures. Here you have an opportunity to feed some of the Rothschild conserved in the nearby sanctuary.
Grevy’s Zebra are the most endangered of the three zebra varieties found in Africa the other two being plain zebras and common zebras. Today there are less than 3000 Grevy’s Zebras remaining a decline from over 15000 in the 1970s. The continued decline is attributed to habitat loss in an already restricted range mostly to over grazing by other grazers and cattle as well as poaching activities. In complexion Grevy’s zebras are larger and taller than the other varieties. They are also more related to wild ass than horse while the plain zebras are more closely related to the horses. Grevy zebras can be fund in different parks in Kenya mostly the reserves in the northern region.
Chimpanzees are primates found in mostly central Africa rainforest. Even though there are over 350000 chimps remaining in Africa today their numbers are rapidly declining due to continuous loss of habitat occasioned by climate change and human intrusion on the rainforest for cultivation. There were over 2 million chimps in Africa about 100 years ago. Importantly, Chimps are more closely related to human than the gorillas with a 95 % DNA similarity. This means that these apes are vulnerable to some of the diseases that affect humans. Like gorillas, chimpanzees live in families which are part of a more closely related community that can go to over 100 individuals. Chimpanzees can also live to over 40 years. To learn more of these unique apes you can embark on a chimps trekking in the rainforest along the borders of Uganda, Rwanda and Tanzania with congo or the eastern DRC region.
Following decades of uncontrolled poaching activities African elephants were some of the greatly affected big game of Africa. They have subsequently been ranked as critically endangered with only slightly over 400000 individuals remaining; a 50 % and 86 % decline for the savannah and forest African elephants in just about 50 years. Another factor that has greatly contributed to the decline of African elephants is the shrinking natural habitat occasioned by continued intrusion of forest and grasslands by human for cultivation. A lot of efforts are therefore being made to protect these threatened animals especially in the southern Africa and East Africa region which account for over 90% of the entire population. Today some of the places you see African elephant while on a safari include Masai Mara, Serengeti, Tarangire, Amboseli, Tsavo and Samburu. A bigger population can also be found in various national parks in the southern African destinations of South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Botswana.
African wild dog
African wild dogs are some of the most endangered animals today. There are approximately 4000 individual wild dogs remaining and the numbers are still declining. Also referred to as pained dog or hunting dog, these dogs are opportunistic predators and live in packs that could go to over 40 individuals. Selous game reserve in Tanzania is the most promising place where you can come across African wild dogs with over 1300 individuals (about a third of the entire population) living in the park. Ruaha national park, Rungwe game reserve, mikumi national park and other wildernesses in southern Tanzania are some of the other places you may come across these incredible scavengers.