25 Fun Facts about African Wildlife

Africa is the ultimate hub of wildlife. I’m sure you wouldn’t disagree with me. Africa is the second largest continent of the world and caters to a rich plethora of wildlife. Africa is a strange country for many of us- dark, distant and hiding lots of secrets in its lap. Who doesn’t yearn to uncover its secrets? I know I want to! It has been established that there are more than 1, 100 different species of mammals in Africa and more than 2, 600 different species of birds. It is also home to hundreds of amphibians, reptiles and insects. Amazing, right? Not only this, but the best known mammals of Africa are popularly called the Big Five and they include elephant, lion, rhino, leopard and buffalo.

It is true that much of the land has now been turned into agricultural land and is used for farming but Africa still remain one of the few countries who has an abundance of wildlife. All those people who want to visit Africa get attracted by its fascinating wildlife. No wonder, it is still associated with wildness and passion! After all, all this animalistic charm does rub off, doesn’t it?

25. Deadly Charm: Vegetarian Hippo’s.

I never thought I would get to encounter this information. Hippos are not only vegetarian but they can, apparently, consume as much as 100 pounds of vegetation in one day. That is why it has been mainly established that hippo’s are herbivorous. But is it really true? These docile looking yet extremely aggressive animals are thought to be cannibals too. Not much research has yet been done in this regard but the researchers are surely studying more and more about their behaviours and eating habits.

24. Did you say a blue tongue? Cool!


Can you guess which animal has blue tongue? Giraffe! The average length of a giraffe’s tongue is 20 inches and yes, it is blue in colour. The long length of their tongue’s allow them to reach the higher leaves on a tree. Scientists believe that melanin, a pigment which provides dark pigmentation to the skin, is responsible for the blue/ purplish hue of a giraffe’s tongue. It has not yet been deciphered as to why do they actually have blue tongues but it is believed that this colour was achieved through evolution in order to provide sun protection.

23. The croc life.

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Did you know that crocodiles have been living on earth even before the existence of dinosaurs? I bet you didn’t! Crocodiles have an efficient digestive system and they can live without meals for months at a time. Not only this, they can hold their breath under water for at least ten minutes and they are said to possess very strong immune systems. They also happen to have the strongest bite amongst all the animals on earth. Impressive, eh?

22. The African Elephant.


African elephants are the largest animals on land. They can be differentiated from the average Asian elephants through their ears which are large and help them to radiate heat. These hefty animals can grow up to the length of 7.5 meters and weigh up to six tonnes. African elephants, unlike their Asian counterparts, also have two opposing extensions at the end of their trunks. African elephants are mainly found in Eastern, Southern, Central and West parts of Africa.

21. Penguins, too?


The last thing I would expect to find in Africa are penguins but there they are! Mostly, penguins are surrounded by snow and ice but the African penguins are acclimated to warmer climates. These are found on the coast and islands of South Africa. They are also called “jackass penguins” because of their ability to omit donkey- like braying sounds while communicating. These African penguins are covered in water- proof feathers and they breed within the herd.

20. Fast and Furious Ostriches.


Ostrich is the largest bird ever known. They can easily grow up to 9 feet and can weigh around 145 kg’s. They are in fact the fastest runners on the earth as they can run with or over the speed of 70 km/ hr. They easily cover 5 m in a single stride.

19. What do giraffe’s have in common with the humans?

Well, it is difficult to comprehend how a giraffe can have something in common with a human. We normally wouldn’t compare the two of them on any level but it has been found that giraffes and humans have same number of vertebrae in their neck.

18. Killer Ostrich.


There’s no denying the fact that ostriches have the capability to kill a human being. They can literally kick a man to death but it has been observed that they can only kick in the forward direction so, we can assume that it is safe to stay at the back. What do you think?

17. Hyenas and Cats.

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What comes to your mind when you read hyenas and cats in one sentence? Certainly not family. But it is true that hyenas are much more connected to cats than they are to dogs, as is commonly believed. They are also one of the largest group of carnivores residing in Africa. They not only prey on the dead but also on living animals.

16. Baby elephants need comfort too.

 Baby Elephant Sucking it's Trunk.

It is hard to believe that such giant animals can be gentle but it is true. Elephants are very social and affectionate animals who use different frequencies of sound for communication. Elephant mothers are not only attentive to their own offspring but they also take care of the orphans in the group. Since elephant calves also possess the reflexive action of sucking it’s mother’s milk, it may suck its own trunk for comfort if he’s not feeding. This reaction is similar to a human baby who sucks its own thumb for comfort.

15. How old are crocodiles?


Yes, crocodiles are very old. In fact, they have outlived dinosaurs by at least 200 million years. We can also say that they both were related to each other. They both are cold- blooded and rely on the environment to heat or cool down. They share many similar physical characteristics like rubbery skin, sharp teeth and claws. Some scientists believe that they are also closely related to birds.

14. Black Mamba Venom.


The Black Mamba is a snake which gets its name from the inky- black interior of its mouth. It is normally found in the East, Central and Southern Africa. It is also one of the longest and the most venomous snakes of Africa. A single strike from this snake can prove to be fatal. Its venom is highly toxic and kills a person if immediate medical attention is not provided. It also has the capability to strike in rapid successions which ensures the death of the victim.

13. That’s a big egg!


Yes, it’s about the ostrich again. An ostrich’s egg is supposed to be the largest eggs of all the other eggs laid by different birds. A single egg can weigh up to 1.4 kg’s and can be 5.9 inches long and 5.1 inches wide.

12. Dung beetles.

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As the name suggests, dung beetles are those which feed, partially or completely, on dung. They are also known as “roller” because they roll dung into round balls which may be used differently. Scientists have found out that dung beetles use the Milky Way as their compass.

11. Hippo’s: Fast Runners.


Appearances are certainly deceptive. It especially holds true in the case of hippos. They can look to be docile and calm but they are the most unpredictable animals of all. In spite of the size of their bodies, they are fast runners on land and can attack when they are provoked.

10. Largest Reptile: The Nile crocodile.

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You have already read about the crocodiles that reside in Africa but this particular crocodile deserves a special mention. A Nile crocodile is the largest African crocodile which can weigh round 730 kg’s. They are mostly seen in the eastern, central and southern parts of the continent. It is also weird that they prove to be very caring as parents who help their babies with the whole hatching process.

9. Four fastest land animals on earth are in Africa.

The African Elephant (weighing 7000 kg’s), White Rhinoceros (3, 600 kg’s), Hippopotamus (2,500 kg’s) and Giraffe (1,600 kg’s) are the four largest animals of the world who all happen to be in Africa.

8. Sleepy Lions.

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What do envision when you think about a lion? You probably imagine it hunting and being active. But that’s far away from the truth. You are most likely to see a lion sleeping than hunting if ever happen to take a safari ride. It is because lions can rest for twenty hours per day. They are also more sociable than the other species of cats. Unbelievable, isn’t it?

7. Elephants and Menopause?

You are probably one of those too who have heard about the concept of menopause only in relation to humans. There are other species too which experience menopause. Just like a human menopause, elephants too experience a long post- reproductive phase. Elephants have a long gestation period and the menopause which occurs between births can last for two and a half to four years.

6. Pangolins have a way with tongues.

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Pangolins are also mammals which belong to the order Pholidota. They are nocturnal and also very shy. What is most peculiar about them is the fact that they have long sticky tongues which can be rolled back into a sheath which further retracts into their chest cavity.

5. A blind chameleon.

00LglasshouseY: A young chameleon runs loose among the tree branches at the Costa Rican rainforest at the Eleanor Smith Armstrong glasshouse at the Cleveland Botanical Garden which will reopen July 15, 2003. (Lynn Ischay/Plain Dealer) PHOTOGRAPHS BY LYNN ISCHAY THE PLAIN DEALER A young chameleon runs loose in the Madagascar area.

Everybody knows that chameleons can adapt to their surroundings by changing their colours. Now the question arises, how a blind chameleon does manages to change its colour. It has been found that a chameleon does not only change colour according to its surroundings but also in accordance with temperature, light and mood. This change in colour not only helps them to camouflage but also plays an important role in courting.

4. Ants don’t have lungs.

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You must have seen ants working ridiculously hard. Since they are tiny, they don’t have many organs that other animals possess. Lungs are one of them. Ants on the other hand, have tiny pores all over their bodies which help oxygen to enter their bodies and carbon dioxide to leave.

3. African Elephants have only four teeth.

African Elephants have 24 teeth in total out of which four are molars. Each molar weighs around 5 kg and is 30 cm in length. These molars primarily help them with eating. The loss of molars can even lead to death out of starvation. However, an elephant also replace their teeth four to six times in their entire lifetime.

2. Mosquito: One of the deadliest animals in Africa. download (8)

I know you would never believe me if I were to claim that mosquitoes are one of the deadliest animals in Africa. They carry various kind of diseases, Malaria being one of them. It has been estimated that malaria alone kills 600,000 people every year. Other diseases that are mosquito- borne include yellow fever, dengue and encephalitis.

1.Mouth breaking python.

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If you have followed animal series on Discovery channel then, you would know that snakes (pythons in particular) are not intimidated by the size of their meals. It has been heard many a times that pythons dislocate their jaws while devouring a large prey. However, if scientists are to be believed a snake’s jaw is made up of muscles, tendons and ligaments which provides it with sufficient flexibility. The two jaws move independently of one another which gives the illusion that they have dislocated when in fact, they remain connected all the time.


African Wildlife does not have only these facts attached to it. There are many other outrageous facts about the wildlife of Africa which will leave your mind spinning. Moreover, a large section of African wildlife still remains unexplored. The part that has been discovered needs conservation and preservation so that it doesn’t fall to its demise because of commercialization, capitalism, consumerism and constant greediness of humans, in general.

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Samridhi Sharma

A student of English and Cultural Studies at Punjab University. An ardent reader and a freelance writer.