Animal Species of Africa

December 10th, 2018

Africa is a large continent that's home to many amazing animal species, several of which live nowhere else. It's host to 1,100 species of mammals and over 2,600 species of birds.

If you're interested in animal extremes, Africa is the place for you—it has some of the fastest, largest, strangest, and most dangerous animals on the planet!

This article looks at five African animals, with a focus on the social aspects of their behavior.

African Elephant

African Elephant

There are two kinds of African elephants, African bush elephants and African forest elephants. The bush elephant is the largest living terrestrial animal, but the forest elephant is pretty big too—it's the third-largest terrestrial animal.

African elephants like to live in family groups, but the males and females tend to separate. Females hang around with about ten related females and their calves, while as soon as they grown up, male elephants form relationships mostly with other males.


African Lion

Lions are wild cats that live in Africa's grasslands and savannas. Males are typically quite a bit larger than females, tipping the scales at up to 550 pounds, compared to the female's maximum weight of about 400 pounds.

A group of lions is called a pride, which typically includes a few adult male lions, their female relatives, and cubs. The females do most of the hunting and work together to take down prey like antelope. In addition to hunting, female lions defend their territories against other females. Male lions protect the pride from rival groups of lions.



The giraffe takes the prize as the tallest living terrestrial animal. The legs are long, but it's got to be that neck that put it over the top! A giraffe's coat is adorned with distinctive spots, and its head is topped with two fur-covered ossicones, small horns that consist of cartilage instead of bone.

Giraffes typically live in savannahs and woodlands, grouping into herds of related females and their young, with separate herds containing unrelated adult males. The groups will commonly intermingle, with several herds gathering in one spot.

African Civet


The African civet is an animal with a very unique appearance. It's like somebody mixed up DNA from a cat, a dog, and a weasel, and civets are the weird result. They are nocturnal creature with strangely large hindquarters and a crest along their back that only sticks up sometimes.

Like other civets, the African civit has perineal glands that produce a fluid that helps it mark its territory. The fluid is also used in the perfume industry.

African civets are loners, except when breeding. The scent glands mentioned above play a significant social role, allowing messages to be conveyed between individuals, for example, a female advertising that she is in heat.



The hippopotamus is a massive semiaquatic animal that's native to Africa. It's the third-largest kind of terrestrial mammal in the world. Although it looks somewhat like a giant pig, the hippo's closest ancestors are actually ocean creatures—whales, dolphins, and porpoises!

The hippopotamus is the deadliest large animal in the world. Hippos are so protective of their territory, they attack and kill an estimated 500 humans in Africa every year.

While hippos are commonly seen huddled in groups, the reason for that is unknown. They do not form social bonds and are generally not social animals. A bond between mothers and daughters is the only notable relationship formed among hippos.