Africa’s dazzling natural beauty has lured millions of people across the globe to its shores and captured the hearts of everyone that has visited. It is home to thousands of animal species but no thanks to habitat destruction, poaching and the thriving fur, trade Africa’s wildlife are slowly but most definitely becoming extinct.
Scientists believe that the figures regarding endangered animals will increase dramatically in the next twenty years. This means that the next generation and those to follow, will not be fortunate enough to see critically endangered animals like the tiger and the black rhino in the flesh, because our animal species are all dying out at a rapid speed.
Every animal has a certain, niche environment in which they co-exist with a healthy and balanced ecosystem. If the balance between predator and prey is not in proportion, then populations may either diminish or expand. This factor will sometimes lead to premature extinction of a certain animal species. It has been proven that habitat destruction is the most important factor that is causing the extinction of many animal species. Without a decent, flourishing environment to live in animal life cannot exist.
With thousands of Africa’s wildlife just vanishing off the face of the earth each year, we have compiled a list of the most endangered animals in Africa and where you can still go to see them in their natural habitats:
The Black Rhino
The black rhino is the most endangered animal in Africa and is ranked “critically endangered” due to extreme hunting and poaching due to the extreme demand for rhino horn in the world. At the moment there are quite a few Game Reserves that are still dedicated to saving the black rhino and although the numbers are falling fast, they are still there. Game Reserves in the KwaZulu Natal and Swaziland region, the Masai Mara Reserves and Kenya’s Amboseli are the only places that you will have a good chance of spotting a black rhino. If some methods aren’t taken into action to save the black rhino then Africa would be forced to remove this animal from The Big Five, as it will no longer exist anywhere in the world.
The African Elephant
The African elephant is another member of The Big Five that is slowly dying out. But even though endangered, there are some African parks where there is an influx of elephants and their numbers sometimes need to be controlled. Elephants can weigh over six tonnes and eat about 250kg a day, which results in extreme pressure on their environment. They are smart animals and are able to communicate with each other using sounds that humans cannot hear. You can see the African elephant in most game parks in South Africa.
The Mountain Zebra
Today the zebra is only found in a few Game Reserves; the Kruger National Park is where most people go to see the zebra. Other kinds of zebra like the Burchell’s zebra and the Greyy zebra are more common and are found all over Southern Africa; you can distinguish the Mountain zebra from the res by their lack of “shadow stripes,” which are faint stripes that run in between the black stripes, and their grid-like striped pattern just above their tails. The Mountain zebra gets along well with the wildebeest, elephant and impala and often mix with these species in Game Reserves.
The Cheetah is renowned in the rest of the world as the fastest animal on earth, exceeding speeds of over 100 km/h. These endangered big cats can only be seen at the Kruger National Park in South Africa and at Etosha in Namibia to name but two. They are not very big animals and their sleek, slender build makes them easy to tell apart from a leopard. Because of the cheetah being a relatively small cat in comparison to other wild cats, their young are often preyed on by other big felines, and they are usually shot by farmers who fear for their livestock. Their petite body mass also counts against them as they have to compete with other predators for sustenance and these factors all play a role in the battling survival of the cheetah.
These cute primates live in groups of 120 and are not as critically endangered but their numbers are dwindling as a result of poaching and their natural habitat being threatened by deforestation. Chimpanzees live off mostly fruit and plants, and they find comfort in the shady areas of forests. With the increase of wildfires each year and the cutting down of trees for artificial purposes, the chimpanzees legacy is at stake. There are still a few chimps in Western Tanzania in Game Parks like Mahale Mountains National Park where you are able to see them in their natural habitat.
One other critically endangered animal is the Tiger. There are only 200 of them left in South Africa and that’s only in captivity. They have completely died out in the wild and Game Reserves are battling to keep them alive and thriving but 200 is too small a number to be able to save the tiger from dying out. The harsh reality is that the next generation and generations after that will not be able to see a real tiger in its natural habitat. There are a few Game Reserves in Southern Africa that you can visit to see the big cats, so don’t surpass this opportunity. Spend time with the endangered species of Africa, it might just be your last chance to see these beautiful creatures in alive and breathing and it will definitely be a memory you’d want to cherish forever.
The Asian Tiger
One other critically endangered animal is the Tiger. Although not a native African animal, much has been done in Africa, specifically South Africa to help prevent the downfall of this beautiful animal. There are only 200 Tigers in South Africa, all in captivity and Game Reserves are battling to keep them alive and thriving. But this is too small a number to be able to save them entirely from dying out.
The harsh reality is that the next generation and generations after that will not be able to see a real tiger in its natural habitat. So don’t surpass this opportunity to visit one of these big cats while we still can. Spend time with the endangered species of Africa, it might just be your last chance to see these beautiful creatures alive and breathing and it will definitely be a memory you’d want to cherish forever.
Excape Tours and Travel is a world-class inbound tour operator, specializing in personalised safaris, travel itineraries and accommodation in Cape Town.