African Wildlife Facts



There are a lot of weird collective nouns to identify groups of African animals in the bush. A clash of rhino, a dazzle of zebra, a coalition of cheetah, a prickle of porcupine, a leap of leopards, and the list goes on and on. Over 1,100 species of mammals are living in Africa and over 2,600 species of birds are living in Africa.

African Animal World Records

Four of the five fastest land animals in the world are found on the African continent. They are the Cheetah, Wildebeest, Lion, and the Thomson’s gazelle. The Wildebeest, Lion, and the Thomson’s gazelle can reach a speed of up to 50 mph (80.47 KPH) for short burst. The Cheetah can hit an unbelievable 70 mph (112.65 KPH) for short burst.


The African elephant is by far the largest living land mammal. It can weigh up to seven tons (6350.29 kilograms). This incredible animal is an endangered species.

Elephants at  Mikumi National Park

The Gorilla is the largest primate on the earth; even so they are very shy.

The Nile crocodile is the largest reptile in Africa. The average length is five meters (16.4 feet). These dangerous creatures kill hundreds of people each year.

In Cameroon you can find frogs that are a foot long. They are the largest frogs in the world and are appropriately named goliath frogs

Honey badgers have been listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the most fearless animal on the planet.

African Wildlife Facts

Giraffes Have Blue Tongues

The average length of a giraffe’s tongue is 20 inches and it is indeed blue in colour, the giraffe’s strange appearance is compounded by the color of its tongue. There is a reason for its blue-black hue, however. Giraffes use their tongues to strip leaves from the tallest trees, and the high melanin content helps to prevent them from getting sunburned. This is just one of the giraffe’s many special adaptations. Blood is pumped up their famously long necks by a uniquely powerful system of valves and veins.

Ostriches Can Sprint Over 45 Miles an Hour

As well as being the largest bird on Earth, the ostrich is also the fastest two-legged runner in the Animal Kingdom. On average, ostriches can sprint at speeds of up to 45 mph/72 kph, while records show that the fastest ostriches can achieve short bursts of up to 60 mph/96.6 kph. They are also the world’s strongest bird. An ostrich can easily support the weight of a man, and their enormous eggs are capable of withstanding great pressure. In some areas of Africa, ostriches are used for racing. You can experience this for yourself in Oudtshoorn, an ostrich-farming town in South Africa’s Karoo desert. Be careful though – ostriches have famously volatile temperaments and are capable of inflicting serious damage. An ostrich can easily kick a grown man to death – an ability often used on predators in the wild. If you can imagine, one of their eggs can easily feed a dozen hungry men. Now that’s a big egg.

The Hippo is One of Africa’s Most Deadly Animals

What large animal kills the most people in Africa? Not the lion, and not the crocodile; it is in fact the hippo. The males are very territorial and will attack anything that enters their area. Females aggressively protect their babies. Hippos have even been known to kill crocodiles.

Despite having a mostly herbivorous diet, hippos are often cited as the most dangerous of all African animals. Male hippos fiercely protect their section of the river, and will often attack those that unwittingly encroach upon their territory. Females are also quick to attack anyone that comes in between them and their calves. Hippos may look slow, but they can achieve speeds of around 20 mph/30 kph on land. Both males and females have powerful jaws with enlarged canines and incisors, sometimes called tusks. The male hippo’s canines can reach up to 19.6 inches/50 centimeters in length. Other amazing hippo adaptations include their ability to hold their breath for over five minutes, and their skin, which produces its own natural sunscreen – a useful defense against the relentless African sun.

Hyenas Are More Closely Related to Cats Than Dogs

Hyenas are more closely related to cats than dogs. They live in matriarchal clans, with some groups numbering over 70 members. Hyena cubs are usually born in pairs, and if they are the same sex, they may try to kill each other. Although hyenas are known as scavengers, they also regularly hunt live prey. Hyena dung is white when dry because of a large amount of calcium found in the bones that they eat. A team of researchers excavating a cave near Johannesburg, South Africa, discovered five human hairs preserved in fossilized hyena dung. Thought to be at least 200,000 years old, the hairs exceeded the previous record for the oldest known human hair by more than 190,000 years. Striped hyenas are born with adult markings, closed eyes, and small ears. Spotted hyenas are born with eyes wide open and teeth intact.

Lions Sleep for 20 Hours a Day

The African lion has been admired by man for its beauty and strength for thousands of years. It is one of the most exciting animals to see on safari. However, you’re more likely to see one sleeping than hunting because lions rest for an average of 20 hours every day. Because they hunt primarily at night, they do most of their sleeping during daylight hours. In this, lions are similar to many other cat species. However, they are also unique in many ways. They are the only cats with marked differences between males and females, and unlike house cats, they cannot purr. They are also the only cats to live in large family groups, or prides. Living, hunting and raising cubs together is a survival tactic that allows for greater hunting success and a higher rate of infant survival.

Lion’s roar can be heard from a distance of 8 kilometres

We all know a lion’s roar is well, loud, but did you know it can be heard from a distance of 8 kilometres or 5 miles away?

An Elephant Calf Often Sucks Its Trunk for Comfort

Elephant calves are amongst the most adorable of all baby safari animals, with their tiny trunks and a light covering of fine orange fuzz. Elephant babies are often seen sucking their trunks, in the same way that a human baby might suck its thumb. This is a natural reflex, and a source of comfort in between feeding sessions. Trunk-sucking is sometimes seen in older elephants, too, especially when they are uncertain of their surroundings. Of course, an elephant’s trunk is more than a glorified pacifier. With more than 40,000 different muscles, it is incredibly dextrous. It is used to breathe, smell, touch, drink, eat, and communicate. It can pull down trees, or be used to pick up something as delicate as a tiny twig. When crossing deep rivers, an elephant can even use its trunk as a built-in snorkel.

Elephants have incredible memories

Believe it or not, the belief that elephants never forget has more than a bit of truth to it. Elephants have incredible memories. They know every member of their family and are able to recognize up to 30 companions by sight or smell. They’re also one of the few animals to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, mourn dead members of their herd, and recognize themselves in the mirror.

Black Mamba Venom Can Kill in a Matter of Hours

Undoubtedly the most feared of all Africa’s dangerous snake species, the black mamba’s venom comprises a lethal mix of neurotoxins and cardiotoxins. If cornered, the snake can deliver several bites in quick succession – although even a single bite is enough to cause a human to collapse within 45 minutes. Without antivenom, death occurs within 15 hours and the mortality rate is 100%. Ultimately, death is caused by asphyxiation, respiratory failure, or complete cardiovascular collapse. Black mambas have a reputation for aggression, but the truth is that like most snakes, they prefer to avoid confrontation where possible. Despite their name, they are rarely black, often appearing brown, grey, or olive green instead.

Crocodiles are older than dinosaurs

Crocodiles have been around the Earth for approximately over 200 million years. These ancient creatures have been around for over 200 million years, outliving dinosaurs by nearly 60 million years. After surviving the catastrophe that caused the mass extinction of the dinosaurs, they continued to evolve into the awe-inspiring predators we know today. Nile crocodiles can hold their breath underwater for over 10 minutes and can go for months at a time without food. Their armor-like skin protects them from injury, and their immune system is so well-developed that they can feed on decaying flesh without getting sick. They have one of the strongest bite forces on record and can move at lightning fast speeds during an ambush. Despite their fearsome reputation, Nile crocodiles are surprisingly dedicated parents, guarding their eggs fiercely during incubation.

Dung Beetles Use the Milky Way as a Compass

African dung beetles are amazing creatures. They spend their lives gathering the feces of other safari animals and rolling them into great balls that can exceed their own body weight by up to 50 times. The beetles roll their balls in a straight line, despite any obstacles that may stand in their way. They bury the dung and use it as a larder, or as a nutritional nest for their eggs. Scientists have discovered that dung beetles use the stars to navigate, and are capable of doing so even when only the glow from the Milky Way or other bright stars is visible. One African species can even navigate by moonlight alone – making these the only insects known to orientate themselves using the galaxy. According to research, dung beetles prefer omnivore feces to herbivore feces. The unsung heroes of Africa have to be dung beetles.

Pangolins Retract Their Tongues Into a Special Chest Cavity

A rare sight on any safari, pangolins are as fascinating as they are elusive. Pangolins are toothless, and instead have strong, sticky tongues designed for lapping up ants. When fully extended, the pangolin’s tongue is longer than its head and body combined. When not in use, it is stored in a special cavity in the animal’s chest. Pangolins are nocturnal and sleep curled up to protect themselves from predators. Their bodies are covered in hard scales, made from keratin – the same substance that human fingernails are made from. Unfortunately, its body parts are highly sought after in Asia, both for consumption and for use in traditional medicine. All eight pangolin species are targeted for wildlife trafficking, and four are either endangered or critically endangered.

Rhinos and Oxpeckers

Rhinos have a symbiotic relationship with oxpeckers. The oxpecker eats ticks and insects that it finds on the rhinoceros. The oxpecker gets food and the beast gets a free grooming session. A win-win for all! Second in size only to the African elephant are Rhinos. Adult White Rhinos can weigh in at six thousand pounds (2721 kilograms). They are known to have a bad temper which along with their size and sharp horn makes them extremely dangerous.

African Penguin

The last animal you might expect to see in Africa is a penguin, but they are there. There is a colony living near the cape in South Africa. They are attracted to the cold currents there.

Animal behaviour

Cape Buffalo are also extremely dangerous; in fact they kill approximately two hundred people annually. They quickly charge and gore anyone they perceive as a threat.

Buffalo at Serengeti National Park

Besides being one of the fastest animals in the world the Thompson’s Gazelle has an amazing sense of smell, sight, and hearing. These senses, along with it’s speed, often enable it to sense and escape a predators attack.

Thomsongazelle in the Serengeti Plains

There are plenty of vultures in Africa. This African animal will feed on dead animal carcasses which are often rotting in the hot African sun. They are well equipped for this type of meal. They have very strong acids in their digestive system which kills dangerous bacteria in their meal.


Millions of years before modern day animals roamed Africa dinosaurs lived there. In Tanzania, a country in East Africa, the oldest dinosaur bones ever discovered were unearthed. This dinosaur, named Nyasasaurus parringtoni, roamed the earth around 240 million years ago.