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Endangered Wild Animals in Africa

Shashank Nakate
The next time you travel to Africa to enjoy a safari ride, think about the dwindling population of wild animals in this continent. Most species of wild animals in Africa are either endangered or they may go extinct in the near future.
The continent of Africa is known for its diverse and varied wildlife. People from all over the world visit Africa to enjoy the safaris. For scientists and wildlife enthusiasts, Africa offers great diversity of flora and fauna. However, the situation may change drastically in the near future.
Today, poaching of rhinos, elephants and other wild animals in Africa is on a rise. Wild animals are hunted, slaughtered and sold for petty gains. The rate at which these creatures are slaughtered is mind-boggling. Thus, many African animal species have been placed in the list of endangered creatures.
Drastic measures need to be taken to save these animals from the ongoing merciless slaughter. If proper measures are not taken in a timely manner, most of the animals mentioned below would be wiped off the planet in a matter of few decades.

Most Endangered Animals of Africa

Animals living in Africa are amongst the most endangered ones because of the remarkable rise in poaching activities in the last 15-20 years. The African Animals list presented below includes those species which face the greatest threat of extinction.


» This fast and agile big cat is one of the endangered animals in Africa. This feline became endangered due to high mortality rate which results from inbreeding.
» It is observed that cheetah cubs fall prey to larger carnivores like lion and hyena.
» Today, there are hardly around 7,100 cheetahs left in the wild.

» Earlier, cheetahs were found throughout Africa except for the rainforests of Congo Basin.

» Today, this creature has disappeared from 77% of the areas where it was originally found.
» Cheetahs from North Africa are placed in the "Critically Endangered" list by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

White Rhinoceros

» The white rhino, also known as square-lipped rhino is hunted for its horns.

» The demand for rhino horns has increased out of a belief they possess medicinal properties. As long as horns of rhinos are in demand, it is difficult to stop the practice of poaching.
» Loss of habitat is one of the important reasons why rhino population is on a decline.

» Northern White Rhino and the Southern White Rhino are two sub-species of white rhinos. The former is on the brink of extinction, while the latter has increased in number due to protection offered by the South African government.
» As per the latest reports released by the government of South Africa, the number of white rhinos killed in 2011 and 2012 was 448 and 668 respectively.

The African Elephant

» Today, the two surviving sub species of African elephants are the African Forest Elephant and African Bush Elephant. These massive tuskers are hunted for obtaining ivory. Some of the native people of Africa eat elephant meat.
» In the last 30-35 years, the population of elephants declined rapidly. In 1970, the population of African elephants was close to 300,000; it declined to 10,000 in 2006.
» The rate at which elephants are slaughtered in Africa in the past few years has reached unprecedented levels. It is speculated that if poaching is not stopped and allowed to continue at the current rate, African elephants would be wiped off the planet in just 10-15 years.
» "We are going to lose the largest animal on earth just so people can have trinkets." This quote by Cynthia Moss - a conservationist from USA who has spent 3 decades of her life studying elephants in Kenya - gives us an idea of the lack of seriousness associated with elephant conservation.

Black Rhinoceros

» In 1960, there were approximately 100,000 black rhinos in the wild. In the 35 years between 1960 and 1995 their population has shown a mammoth 98% slump.
» It is estimated that in the 20th century when poaching was not as rampant as it is today, the population of black rhinos might have touched a high of 850,000.
» Major threats to the black rhino are poaching and loss of habitat resulting from rise in human settlement in rhino-inhabited areas. Black rhinos are hunted for their horns; rhino horns are used in traditional medicines and also for making ornaments. The civil wars fought in Africa have played a major role in reducing the black rhino population to a great extent.

Few More Endangered Animals

Apart from the animals mentioned above, there are many other endangered species in Africa. Let us find about them.


» There are many reasons behind chimpanzees becoming endangered. These animals are poached for their meat and they are also traded.

» The DNA of human beings and chimpanzees exhibit 98% similarity. Therefore, these creature are used in research activities.
» Chimpanzees face a major threat in the form of hunting and human encroachment in their habitat.

» The chimpanzees are found in rainforests, grasslands as well as woodlands. In 2008, the estimated population of chimpanzees in the wild was 1,90,000.

» In the past 20 years, the number of chimps in the wild reduced by 90%.
»There are 4 population groups of chimps found in the wild. These groups are genetically different from each other. Conservation efforts for these 4 groups need to be devised separately.

African Wild Dog

» The ferocious African Wild Dog, also known as the Cape Hunting Dog is one of the creatures which hunt in packs.
» Generally, African wild dogs hunt small animals like antelopes; however, they can also bring down a wildebeest.
» Fragmentation of habitat is the biggest threat faced by these wild dogs. Therefore, these creatures are often compelled to enter human-inhabited areas in search of food.

» African wild dogs feed on livestock upon entering human-inhabited areas; therefore, farmers hunt them down to protect their livestock. Today, there are 6,600 African wild dogs left in the wild.

Striped Hyena

» Striped hyenas inhabit the savannas of East and North Africa. Weighing between 60-110 pounds, these mammals from the Hyaenidae family are 3-4 feet long.

» The body parts of striped hyenas are used for medicinal purpose and which is why they are hunted on a large scale. Hunting of striped hyenas for medicinal purposes mainly takes place in Morocco. Loss of habitat is also one of the reasons behind the decline in population of these creatures.
» Today, there are not more than 10,000 striped hyenas in the wild. Loss of habitat is the reason behind these hyenas entering human-inhabited areas and hunting livestock. Therefore, people view striped hyenas as a threat and have, on many occasions, poisoned them.

» Trading of hyena skin is one of the many reasons behind decline in the population of these creatures.


» This sturdy antelope is capable of surviving in the deserts of Sahara.

» Addax is a nocturnal animal which wanders from place to place in search of grass that grows in the rainy season.

» Northern Chad and north-eastern Niger are the regions where the addax is found in large numbers.
» Hunting the addaxes for meat is the main reason behind decline in their population.

» In the past 20 years, Addax population has reduced by 80%. Today, there are not more than 300 addaxes left in their natural habitat. Niger's Termit/Tin Toumma region houses the highest number of addaxes.


» This big cat is poached for its highly valued fur coat.

» Leopards are found in sub Saharan regions, central & northeast Africa and also in the west of the Kalahari desert.
» The population of leopards outside the sub-Saharan region is on a decline. However, in the sub-Saharan region their number is steadily increasing.

» In the IUCN Red List, the leopard is placed in the 'Near Threatened' category.

Ethiopian Wolf

» There is no other wolf species found in the sub-Saharan Africa, except for the Ethiopian wolf.
» These animals weigh between 35 and 40 pounds and primarily feed on rodents.

» The decline in number of these wolves is attributed to loss of natural habitat and diseases like distemper, rabies, etc.

The Cuvier's Gazelle

» The Cuvier's Gazelle is one of the smallest gazelle species. In the first half of 20th century, this gazelle was hunted for its meat and skin.
» There have been instances of starvation of gazelles due to unavailability of pasture lands.

» The Cuvier's Gazelle is found in small numbers in regions surrounding the Atlas mountains. Today, there are not more than 500 gazelles left in the wild.


Scientific Name: Struthio camelus

» The biggest bird in the world, the ostrich weighs about 290 pounds. It runs at a maximum speed of 40 miles per hour.
» These terrestrial birds can easily dodge predators like hyenas.

» In olden days, feathers of ostrich were in great demand. This led to large-scale hunting of ostriches. Hunting has reduced the ostrich population to a great extent and today, they are found only in south and central Africa.


» The endangered reptiles of Africa include the African Slender-snouted Crocodile and the Geometric Tortoise.

» The African Slender-snouted crocodiles are found in Central and Western Africa. These creatures are hunted for their hides.

» Today, almost 97% of the habitat of Geometric tortoise is permanently lost. Shells obtained from these tortoises are used in the preparation of decorative artworks.
A large number of animal species have already been wiped off the planet. Many more are about to go extinct in the near future. It is high time we take some concrete and effective conservation measures to save these endangered species. We can participate in the conservation of wild animals by refraining from buying ivory products, fur coats, leather bags, etc. The balance of this planet and the ecosystem should be maintained at least for us, humans, to survive!