Wildlife is Africa’s biggest attraction and draws in millions of visitors to the continent. The landmass is rich with fauna and thousands of animal species. With a rise in the human population and increased demand for basic resources such as food, land, and water, the wildlife population is having it rough. Add the stubborn poaching dilemma and you can understand why animal species are becoming endangered.
The demand for pangolin meat and skin are driving pangolins to extinction. Mainly found in South and Central Africa, it is the world’s most trafficked animal today. With a life of 20 years, the African mammal is on high demand for its skin and scales which are deemed to have curative and magical properties. Some even believe that their scales can neutralize witchcraft or evil spirits. In Asian countries, pangolins are believed to cure cancer or asthma - a claim that has never been substantiated.
2. The Northern White Rhino
The last northern white rhino passed away at the Ol Pejeta conservancy in Kenya, 2018. The death was attributed to old age, but the implications on the survival of the species were huge. The untimely demise of the male rhino leaves behind only two rhinos, a mother and a daughter who are placed under 24-hour armed security. After the elephant, the rhino is the second-largest land mammal on the planet. Poaching is responsible for their dwindling numbers.
3. Rothschild giraffe
The Rothschild giraffe made it to the red list of endangered species. As a subspecies of the Northern giraffe, it was once a thriving species but has now lost most of its natural environment to human encroachment. The giraffe species can grow up to 6 meters tall and is distinguished by the markings that only cover half of the legs. Going by the 2019 count, there were about 2500 Rothschild giraffes, residing in conservation areas in Kenya and Uganda. It’s hard to believe how the numbers of a giraffe species can be fewer than that of elephants.
4. Mountain Gorilla
The mountain gorillas live in dense high altitude forests 8,000 to 13,000 feet. Unlike other apes, they have thick fur that cushions them from the cold temperatures. Their numbers are threatened by human encroachments, conflict, disease, and poaching. A count by the Uganda Wildlife Authority shows there are 459 mountain gorillas in the wild. The survey was done in 2019, around Bwindi and Sarambwe Nature reserves.
5. Knysna Seahorse
The Knysna Seahorse is one of two endangered seahorse species in the world. Seahorses are good at camouflaging, making it hard to spot them and conduct research. The deterioration of their only known habitats automatically gave them the endangered tag by the IUCN. The Knysna seahorse is an exclusively South African species. This seahorse can only be found in three estuaries in South Africa.
6. Cuvier’s Atlas gazelle
The Atlas gazelle are mainly found in Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia. 30 gazelles were recently reintroduced into the Jebel Serj National Park in Tunisia as of March 31. Also known as the Edmi, it has a darker shade of outer coloring when compared to other gazelles. Overhunting for skin, meat, and trophies brought it to the brink of extinction.
7. Ethiopian wolves
Sometimes regarded as the last wolves of Africa, the Ethiopian wolves reside in the high peaks of Northern and Central Ethiopia. In areas over 3,000 to 4500 meters, temperatures occasionally drop below freezing point. As a descendant of the Eurasian gray wolves, they are now marooned on the Afroalpine islands. Human encroachment into their territory alongside other factors is exerting psychological stress as they adjust to their new realities.
A species that once roamed the plains is now on the brink of extinction. In 2016 the estimated populations were 7,100 but reports indicate the number is expected to decrease by 53 percent. According to Panthera, cheetahs have been driven out of 95 percent of their habitat. Presently, they are only found in Zimbabwe, Botswana, Angola, Mozambique, Namibia, and South Africa.
9. African Penguin
Anytime we think of Penguins we remember the crafty characters in the movie Madagascar or the huge colonies in the freezing Antarctic ice sheets. Turns out there are warm-climate penguins at the South-western tip of Africa in Namibia and South Africa Ever since industrial fishing began around the Cape, the African penguin has been driven to the brink of extinction. The worrisome trend prompted Birdlife international to label them as an endangered species. Adapted to the warmer subtropical climate, human activity has threatened their numbers over the years.
10. Pygmy hippo
The pygmy hippo should not be mistaken for a weakling, they are equally if not more aggressive than the other hippos. This endangered mammal resides in West Africa around Upper Guinea and stands half as tall as the hippopotamus. The few that reside in the wild are at risk of human activity such as poaching.