For long history African animals have been a target for big game hunters and poachers during the 19th century when most explorers hunted the plains of Africa for wild game trophies consequently causing reduction if not extinction of specific species of animals. Today travelers hunt for the same opportunities to look at some of the African endangered species of animals for good reasons including photography, pleasure and research in different countries that are lucky enough to have those rare animals. When extinction of certain species became alarming intensified by illegal wildlife trading across the globe, the international community felt concerned to save the remaining populations and this saw the foundation of various organizations dedicated to protect, save and conserve such animals. They include the international union for conservation of nature, African wildlife foundation, and the wildlife fund among others that now operate in many African national parks, wildlife reserves, zoos and sanctuaries where some species are kept in captive breeding.
This presents an opportunity to see the 11 African endangered species of animals while on your African safari trip to understand their status, numbers left in the wild according to the IUCN red data book above all you can help to provide money by visiting those species hence ensuring their survival.
- The IUCN’s Red listed 11 African endangered animals include:-
- The African mountain gorilla critically endangered since 1996
- The chimpanzee critically endangered since 1996
- The black rhino critically endangered since 1996
- The riverine rabbit critically endangered since 2003
- The Ethiopian wolf critically endangered since 2004
- The Rothschild’s Giraffe critically endangered since 2010
- The African wild Dog critically endangered since 1990
- The Grevy’s Zebra critically endangered since 1986
- The northern white rhino critically endangered since 1996
- Pickergill’s Reedfrog critically endangered since 2010.
- The African penguin
The Black Rhino is one of the critically endangered subspecies of Rhino that is still poached due to its horn specifically for medical purposes and illegal trade. As one of the African dangerous animals, poachers have used gun shooting to kill them consequently reducing their numbers in the wild. Initially, black rhinos were spread across the sub-Saharan African but today there are only 2,500 black rhinos left in the wild. Black rhinos today can only be found in east Africa that is a round lake Nakuru in Kenya and in Ngorongoro conservation area of Tanzania and in some parts of southern Africa in South Africa Kruger national park and northern Angola, Zimbabwe.
The main threat to Black Rhinos is human poaching for the horn which is used for medicinal purposes among Asians ands Indians, illegal trade of the Black Rhino horn for money is also rampant. Historically European explorers and settlers in parts of East Africa were partly responsible for the massive killing of these critically endangered species.
Habitat loss due to human encroachment in form of creating land for agriculture or military and rebel base grounds associated with civil wars in parts of Sudan, DRC were responsible for the extinction of black rhinos in those areas. Rhinos are said to have been killed for food.
Travelers on the African safari to see these species help to provide funds for conservation and evidently black rhinos are seriously protected by armed rangers in Kenya, Tanzania.
The Mountain Gorillas
African mountain gorillas are critically endangered since 1996 according to the IUCN’s red data book because of the fact that these creatures have a limited habitat range compared to other species of primates. Mountain gorillas are restricted to the equatorial rain forests of the Virunga mountains region that straddle across Uganda, Rwanda and the democratic republic of Congo.
The survival of mountain gorillas is much more attributed to the ground breaking research of Dian Fossey an American natural scientist and primatologist who dedicated her life to study gorillas during the 1960’s in the DRC and later established a mountain gorilla research centre at Karisoke volcanoes in Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda. In the 20’s gorilla trekking in Africa has become very popular highlighted as the highest tourism earner in the countries where mountain gorillas reside. Gorilla tourism is the only way to protect and conservation gorilla population and so far a big rise in gorilla numbers is recorded each year as witness from the Kwita Izina – Annual Gorilla naming ceremony in Rwanda (www.rdb.rw/kwitizina/) . There are said to be about 880 gorillas in the whole worlds and interestingly half of these are found in the bwindi impenetrable forest national park in south western Uganda.
The main Threats to Mountain Gorillas
Mountain gorillas share 95%o for their genes with humans which make them vulnerable to the contraction of human related diseases because they can easily spread from people to gorillas. Diseases such as tuberculosis, influenza, diarrhea and Ebola are contagious to gorillas. since the beginning of gorilla tourism in the 1990’s in Uganda and later in Rwanda and DRC, some of the gorillas e=were habituated and made close to human interaction to enable tourists to trek and see gorillas which increased risk and vulnerability of gorillas to human diseases. Despite the training and deployment of gorilla doctors in the Virunga region, there’s remains some cases where gorillas have died form human related diseases cases.
Another threat is habitat loss due to human encroachment, the Virunga region is very heavily populated with about 300 people per sq km implying that strife for resources is high and has resulted in human wildlife conflicts around most of the national parks in Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. People encroach on the park land to acquire land for agriculture, for timber and wild honey hence reducing their habitat which is already limited.
Poaching still remains a challenge to the survival of gorillas, gorillas are either killed by snare traps intended t capture other animals such as antelopes and duikers. In the 1990’s during massive genocide killings in Rwanda, people took advantage and killed gorillas for sale or meat. There has been few cases related to kidnapping of gorillas into captivity but fortunately none of them has ever survived which explains how endemic these primates are to the rain forests of Virunga region.
Mountain gorillas can only be found in volcanoes national park in Rwanda or in southwestern Uganda in Bwindi and Mgahinga national parks. Virunga mountains national park in eastern DRC is also a place to trek gorillas.
To track gorillas, tourists must first purchase the expensive gorilla permits hence contributing to their conservation at the same time limiting the number of people likely to see them in their natural habitat
Chimpanzee is known to be the closest cousin to man among the primates with 98.7 % of their genes similar to those of humans. Being one of the species listed on the IUCN red data as critically endangered because it is highly adaptable. Chimpanzees inhabit a range of diverse ecosystems including ever green rain forests, montane forests, forested swamps, savannah woodlands and sometimes in secondary deciduous acacia forests that re grown after shifting cultivation.
Chimpanzees used to live in more than 25 countries across tropical Africa however due the severe depletion of their habitat range, chimpanzees today have critically declined in numbers among those countries. This prompted the declaration of chimpanzees as critically endangered in 1996, with an estimated number of 150,000 to 250,000 chimps left in the wild. Four sub-species of chimpanzees distributed across tropical Africa, the western chimpanzee, the central chimpanzee, eastern chimpanzee and the Niger –Cameroon chimpanzee.
The remaining numbers include those living in captivity in zoos, sanctuaries, laboratories and private landscapes with accredited rights of commercial hunting and animal trade in the US
The Main Threats to Chimps
The degradation of habitats leading to their loss through human-induced activities such as deforestation, commercial farming and timber production which have resulted in ecosystem fragmentation and vulnerability with the most of the forests remaining unconnected especially in central West African countries
Poaching and hunting for bush eat is a serious threat, in western Nigeria where commercial logging and urban development has reduced forests, pressure and demand for premium prices of chimpanzee meat.
Human diseases which are contagious to chimpanzees have partly caused death in Ebola prone West African Gabon, sierra Leon, Ivory Coast, toga where they have become extinct.
The current destinations where chimpanzee lives include the larger parts of equatorial African forests from West Africa through central Africa to the western Tanzania. Safaris to Africa can easily trek chimpanzees in Uganda’s Kibale forest national park, in the Nyungwe forest national park in Rwanda, Gombe stream national park in western Tanzania, in the democratic republic of Congo. In the DR Congo there exist both eastern and western low land chimpanzees.
Riverine rabbits are small mammals highly nocturnal and critically endangered due to the increasing decline rate of riverine vegetation along seasonal and permanent rivers in the South African scrublands central Karoo. Riverine rabbits inhabit the fertile alluvial soils adjacent to the rivers as a result the habitat has suffered intense fragmentation due to human settlements that has transformed the already limited ecosystem ranges. In 2003 the IUCN declared the riverine rabbit as critically endangered but before that the South Africa national red data book is known to have contained studies and research data.
In the wild few numbers have remained with the current estimated number of about 250 confined in the South Africa central karoo areas.
The main threats to riverine rabbits include poaching and hunting by humans for bush meat, and hides and skins. Riverine alluvial soils are fertile and heavily degraded and settled in the process these animals are killed and forced to migrate to areas with minimal survival whilst other natural predators also kill them as prey.
Un sustainable human practices such as shifting cultivation, jackal fencing by farm workers have led to decline of riverine vegetation. As a result habitats are degraded posing a threat to their survival.
In Africa, riverine rabbits are can only be found in South African semi arid dense riparian areas of central karoo region.
The Grevy’s zebra is one of the three subspecies of zebras that is critically endangered the other being the plains and mountain zebra. The Grevy’s zebra is clearly distinguished from the the other species and it inhabits the semi arid along permanent river and lake waters where food to graze and browse on is available. These species can hardly survive without water hence vulnerable once the desert like areas have little and declining water resources especially in the horn of African countries such as Somalia, Djibouti, Eritrea where the species were initially many but have become extinct.
In the whole world there are approximately 2,000 Grevy’s zebras left in the wild.
Among the serious the serious threat to the survival of Grevy’s zebra include habitat loss and degradation as a result of humans especially cattle herders who settle around the permanent water sources in the semi arid ecosystems causing decline of water sources. Consequently th species have undergone substantial reductions due to lack of water.
Competition from other grazers including cattle, other wild animals such as antelopes, buffalos in the arid areas have vegetation due to prolonged dy spells hence overgrazing occurs in the habitat range. This causes forced migration and during the process some are trapped or die from starvation.
Poaching and hunting for bush meat and trade of their beautiful hides and skins. In parts of Eritrea, Somalia these species have become extinct due to increased illegal killing. Civil wars in Somalia are partly responsible for decline of Grevy’s zebras. Other predators such as lions, cheetahs, African hunting dogs and hyenas also kill them but this is regarded as natural selection which may not affect their populations.
Places to see Grevy’s zebra include collar buffalo national reserve in Kenya Samburu and Marsabit areas and in the Saint Louis zoo in Ethiopia, Thanks to the Grevy’s zebra trust and African wild life foundation conservation efforts in partnership with communities
The African Hunting Dog
The African hunting dog sometimes referred to as the cape hunting dog is critically endangered carnivores for more than 20 years that inhabit the dense woodland forests and open or semi arid plains of savannah grasslands in southern African and East Africa. African hunting dogs are very fierce animals that move in groups of more than 10 and prey on medium sized animals such as antelopes, gazelles, duikers and sometimes on large mammals such as bush pigs and domestic animals such as cattle, goat ands sheep. This explains why the African dog has become a main target by cattle herders have hunted them down in retaliation for their domestic animals being killed by other predators.
In the whole word there are approximately 6,600 individuals left in the wild
The main threats include illegal poaching and hunting due to human wildlife conflicts. Cattle accuse the dogs for killing their domestic livestock hence some are poisoned, killed and trapped in snares at an alarming rate in parts of northern Kenya and southern Africa.
Habitat loss and destruction as a result of increased demand for land in the habitat areas, mainly agriculture activities, settlements have significantly reduced their ecosystems. Fragmentation has left wild dogs stuck in unsafe areas prone to diseases such as rabies which also put pressure on conservation efforts.
African hunting dogs can be found in northern Kenya Ol pejeta conservancy area, Kilimanjaro mountains national park. In Tanzania and northern Mozambique areas, Kruger national park in South Africa is a best place to see them, in Zimbabwe’s Hwange national park and other southern African nations such as Botswana, Namibia and Zambia.
Rothschild’s giraffes are one tallest animals with 20 feet in heigh and critically endangered species of giraffes that inhabit the acacia woodland forests, open sananah grass;ands, schrubs in relatively small numbers within protected areas in Kenya and northern Uganda . rothchilds giraffe became exticvnt in parts of sudan and north eastern democratic republic of cogo due to illegal poaching which contributed to the decline of their populations.
With only less than 1,000 species left in the wild implying that If not protected the future prospect of seeing this endangered giraffe becomes unpredictable.
The main threats include poaching especially in Kenya where both illegal and sport hunting occurs. Some tourists pay big chunks of money to hunt and kill them which is dwindling numbers in the wild. They are killed for bush meat, illegal trade in hides and skins.
Destruction of habitats by human activities such as expansion of farmlands leaving them in isolated parches where they cannot survive for long.
The best places to see the Rothschild’s giraffe include Lake Baringo in Kenya are popular areas where safaris to the areas can easily spot the giraffe.
In the eastern and north eastern parts of Uganda Rothschild’s giraffe can also be seen when you visit Mount Elgon national park in Uganda
The Northern White Rhinoceros
The northern white rhinos are among the subspecies of rhinos that is critically endangered. The species is the second largest after the elephant which have been poached to the brink of extinction for their horn. Historically they were spread across the sub-Saharan Africa however due to rampant illegal poaching, their numbers have significantly reduced and extinct in Chad, Sudan and DRC.
Today there are about 20,000 northern white rhinos across the world with few numbers held in captive breeding.
The main threats include illegal poaching and trade of their horns; many have been killed specifically to get horns used for medial purposes among Asians.
Civil wars and conflicts in Chad, democratic republic of Congo were responsible for their extinction in those countries. For more than two decades of fighting the northern white rhinos were caught up in the middle and killed mercilessly.
Habitat loss and destruction due to human encroachment on their habitat ecosystems especially in Kenya has forced conservationists to create projects of captive breeding of the species intended to increase their numbers.
Travelers on a safari to east Africa can see the northern white rhino at the Ol pejeta conservancy central Kenya where they are protected by armed rangers.
The Ethiopian Wolf
The Ethiopian wolf is endemic to the Ethiopian highlands, near the Danakil Depression, and is critically endangered carnivore which is slender and long legged. The Bale Mountains as part of the Ethiopian highlands is a place known to habit the last surviving populations of the Ethiopian wolf. They live in arid rocky areas with scrubs at a high altitude of above 3,000 meters above the sea level which defines how small their habitat rage is.
In the whole world, there are about 500 left in the wild. There are lots of things to do in Ethiopia of course, but many ignore the plight of the wolf.
The main threats to their survival include loss of habitats due to extension of agricultural farmlands leading to fragmentation and reduction of the afro alpine vegetation.
Humans have also hunted and killed them regarding them as vermin’s by posing and trapping.
Other threats include diseased from domesticated dogs including rabies.
The Ethiopia wolf can only be found in the Bale Mountains in Ethiopian highlands.
The African penguin
African penguins are critically endangered since 2012 according to the IUCN red list data book. Due to the limited range of habitats confined in the southern Africa coasts where the species are endemic along the Benguela warm ocean currents providing fish as food for the penguins. Along the coast are the swampy scrubs that act as breeding grounds where indiscriminate commercial fishing and creation of recreational beaches has reduced their habitat.
Along the southern African coast there are approximately 52, 000 African penguins left in the wild.
The main threats to African penguins include degradation of coastal wetlands, swamps reducing breeding grounds. Environmental changes have occurred as result leading to decline of penguin populations.
Oil drilling has caused massive oil spills that contaminate waters and make them unsafe for penguins to live.
Humans have involved in illegal collection of guano and eggs hence disrupting the breeding process of penguins.
The best place to see African penguins include the cape province of South Africa both east and west coasts have large concentrations of penguins. Most safaris to South African city of Cape Town can possibly see penguins in their natural habitat.
Pickergill’s Reedfrog is sub specie of frogs endemic to South Africa inhabiting the temperate grasslands, scrubs, marshes, fresh water swamps that range from warmer to cooler ocean currents. Classified by the IUCN as Africa’s critically endangered amphibians following the severe declining of ecosystems and habitat fragmentation due to coastal developments. However plans are underway to conserve these species of frogs to avoid future extinction in many zoos of South Africa.
There are only 17 remote places along the coast of South Africa with only 50 % of the Reedfrogs living, however the accurate numbers are still unavailable.
The main threats to their survival include wetland drainage for agriculture and farming; urban development such as beach construction has highly fragmented their habitats with introduction of exotic species such as eucalyptus consumes a lot of water leading to wetland drainage. There are no cases of illegal trading but largely human induced activities are a serious threat.
The best places to see Pickergill’s Reedfrog is South Africa’s coastal wetlands and swamps in the areas between kingsburgh and Isimangaliso Wetland Park.
Traveling to see these 11 African endangered species, from Cape Town to Cairo, in their natural habitats or in their captive breeding places is a means to save them through strengthening conservation, awareness of the communities and appreciation of wildlife with hopes of seeing such species in the coming generations.