September 21, 2021
11 Most Endangered African Safari Animals

Many African wildlife species have been significantly decimated over the years due to factors such as habitat loss and poaching. For example, African black rhinoceros and pangolin were once severely hunted; black rhinoceros for their horns and pangolins for their scales. Continuing conservation efforts have had a positive impact but several threats still remain – one of them being illegal trafficking.

Our alphabetical list of 11 most endangered African safari animals includes mammals, birds, amphibians, and rodents. Many of these species are flourishing now, slowly recovering from the decades worth of damage. In some places there are opportunities for safari visitors to volunteer at one of the many conservancies on their quest to help the wildlife recover.

1. AddaxAddax

Status: Critically Endangered

Last known Population: 75-100 individuals (in wild)

Threats: Poaching and loss of habitat

One of the most threatened species in the world, the Addax is on the verge of extinction. Found in the Sahara Desert, the majority of the current Addax population in Chad was brought in from Abu Dhabi. In 2021, two new Addax births were reported in Chad. Even so, the numbers are still low and the population continues to decline. Only the most experienced guides can help you spot one in Chad.

Addax on the IUCN Red List

Best Places to See Addax

  • Djebil National Park, Tunisia

2. African Penguin

African Penguin

Status: Endangered

Last known Population: 41,700 individuals

Threats: Oil pollution and fishing

African penguins are found on 24 islands between Namibia and South Africa and are the only penguin species in Africa. They are found in South Africa, Congo, Angola, Mozambique and Namibia. They are also called Cape penguins or the South African penguins after their habitat. Their black feet, of course, have earned them another name – the black-footed penguins, whiletheir braying has resulted in them being called jackass penguins. The major threats to their survival are oil pollution and fishing nets.

African Penguin on the IUCN Red List

Best Places to See African Penguin

3. African Lion

African Lion

Status: Endangered

Last known Population: 20,000 individuals (wild)

Threats: Loss of habitat, poaching, and climate change

African lions refer to both the subspecies – Panthera Leo Leo (found in western and north-central Africa) and Panthera Leo Melanochaita (found in southern and east Africa).

At least six decades ago, the majestic African lions roamed freely across the entire African continent. Today those numbers have dropped drastically, and lions have become extinct in 25 African countries. Currently, they are found in 28 African countries but are scattered, with only 6 locations having more than 1000 lions.

Despite conservation efforts, they remain a vulnerable species with a decreasing population.

Lion on the IUCN Red List

Best Places to See African Lion

4. African Wild Dog

Status: Critically endangered

Last known Population: Less than 6000 individuals

Threats: Hunting, disease outbreaks, and habitat loss

Known by many names – painted dogs, painted wolves, Cape hunting dogs, and African hunting dogs – African wild dogs are social creatures that have suffered a lot due to habitat fragmentation. Despite conservation efforts, the number of wild dogs continues to decline. The current wild dog population is scattered throughout sub-Saharan Africa, with the majority of the population found in southern Africa. The wild dog populations in east Africa, central Africa, West Africa, and North Africa are fragmented, with some regions having a healthy wild dog pack.

African Wild Dog on the IUCN Red List

Best Places to See African Wild Dog

5. Black Rhino

Status: Critically endangered

Last known Population: 3,142 individuals

Threats: Poaching

The 20th century was hard on black rhinos, with large scale hunting and poaching causing the numbers to drop to 2,500. Black rhino conservation efforts have changed that and today the black rhino population in Africa is increasing. According to the IUCN red list 2020 survey, there were 3,142 mature black rhinos. These numbers are steadily improving, but they still need protection from poaching. The rhino horns are considered medicinal, a belief that has slain many rhinos over the years. The recovery of this species is continually threatened by these wildlife crimes.

Black Rhino on the IUCN Red List

Best Places to See Black Rhino

6. Cheetah

Cheetah

Status: Vulnerable

Last known Population: 7,100 individuals

Threats: Habitat loss, poaching, illegal trading, etc.

According to National Geographic, Cheetahs are dangerously close to extinction. Cheetahs are not only poached for their skin and other body parts, but cheetah cubs are also traded to the Middle East as pets. Big cats census has revealed that in the next 15 years, the numbers will further decline by 53%. Like other big cats, cheetahs roamed the African and Asian continents, but today they are confined to 6 African countries – Angola, Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe.

Cheetah on the IUCN Red List

Best Places to See Cheetah

7. Common Chimpanzee

Common Chimpanzee

Status: Endangered

Last known Population: Estimated 172,000-300,000 individuals

Threats: Hunting and habitat loss

The current trend suggests that in the next 3-4 decades, the population of common chimpanzees will further decrease by 80%. All species of African great apes are endangered and only found in the forest of Equatorial Africa, except for Gambia, Togo, Benin, and Burkina Faso.

Common Chimpanzee on the IUCN Red List

Best Places to See Common Chimpanzee

8. Ethiopian Wolf

Ethiopian Wolf

Status: Endangered

Last known Population: Less than 500 individuals

Threats: Habitat loss, rabies, and canine distemper

The Ethiopian wolf is also known as Simien fox, Simien jackal, and horse jackal. It is one of the rarest and most endangered wolf species in the world. Canine diseases and habitat loss have severely damaged the existing population. Today, there are less than 500 Ethiopian wolves in the wild. Despite conservation efforts, their numbers continue to decline. Native to Ethiopia, these species are found in the Bale Mountain region, which includes Bale Mountain National Park in Ethiopia.

Ethiopian Wolf on the IUCN Red List

Best Places to See Ethiopian Wolf

9. Grevy’s Zebra

Status: Endangered

Last known Population: 2,500 individuals

Threats: Habitat loss and lack of food

Grevy’s zebra, also known as the Imperial Zebra, is the most endangered zebra species. It is taller than the other subspecies with large ears and narrower stripes. Before the 1970s, there were around 15,000 Grevy’s zebra, but the numbers have dramatically declined since then. However, unlike the majority of endangered species on this list, the population of Grevy’s zebra isn’t declining. Conservation efforts will hopefully lead to an upward trend. Ethiopia has less than 100 Grevy’s zebras, while the remaining 2,400 are in Kenya.

Grevy’s Zebra on the IUCN Red List

Best Places to See Grevy’s Zebra

10. Hooded Vulture

Status: Critically endangered

Last known Population: Estimated 197,000 individuals

Threats: Habitat loss, hunting, and poaching

A sub-Saharan African bird, the hooded vulture is known for its scruffy appearance and shrill voice. It is currently a critically endangered species. In the past 50 years, their population has suffered 85% losses and continues to decline. The majority of hooded vultures are found in Gambia while the remaining population is distributed throughout Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, and other sub-Saharan African countries.

Hooded Vulture on the IUCN Red List

Best Places to See Hooded Vulture

  • Western Gambia

11. Pangolin

Status: Four species of Pangolins live in Africa; all endangered with declining population

Last known Population: 50,000 individuals

Threats: Poaching and illegal trafficking

Pangolins, also known as scaly anteaters, are mammals clad in scales. When threatened, they curl into a ball, their scales protecting them against attacks from predators. Poaching is one of the primary causes for the decline of the Pangolin population. One of the most trafficked wildlife species, Pangolin is always on the verge of extinction. Africa has four pangolin subspecies, Black-bellied pangolin (vulnerable), Giant ground pangolin (endangered), Temminck’s ground pangolin (vulnerable), and White-bellied pangolin (endangered).

Pangolin on the IUCN Red List

Best Places to See Pangolin

  • Namiri Plains, Tanzania
  • Moremi Game Reserve and Shinde, Botswana
  • Mateya Safari Lodge, South Africa
  • Samara Private Game Reserve, South Africa
  • Tswalu Game Reserve, South Africa

Notable Mentions

I. White Rhino

Status: Nearly threatened

Last known Population: 10,080 individuals

Threats: Hunting and poaching

White Rhino on the IUCN Red List

Best Places to See White Rhino

II. Pickersgill’s Reed Frog

Status: Endangered

Threats: DDT insecticides, agricultural drainage, and urban development

Pickersgill’s Reed Frog on the IUCN Red List

Best Places to See Pickersgill’s Reed Frog

  • KwaZulu-Natal Province, South Africa

III. Pygmy Hippopotamus

Status: Endangered

Last known Population: 2,000-2,499 individuals

Threats: Habitat loss and fragmentation

Pygmy Hippopotamus on the IUCN Red List

Best Places to See Pygmy Hippopotamus

  • Côte d’Ivoire, West Africa
  • Guinea, West Africa
  • Liberia, West Africa
  • Sierra Leone, West Africa

IV. Riverine Rabbit

Status: Critically endangered

Last known Population: 157-207 individuals

Threats: Habitat destruction and predatory dogs

Riverine Rabbit on the IUCN Red List

Best Places to See Riverine Rabbit

  • Sanbona Wildlife Reserve, South Africa
  • Anysberg Nature Reserve, South Africa

V. Rothschild’s Giraffe

Status: Nearly threatened

Last known Population: 1,399 individuals

Threats: Habitat loss

Rothschild’s giraffe on the IUCN Red List

Best Places to See Rothschild’s Giraffe

Vi. Mountain Gorilla

Status: Endangered

Last known Population: Estimated 600 individuals

Threats: Habitat degradation, diseases, hunting snares and traps

Mountain Gorilla on the IUCN Red List

Best Places to See Mountain Gorilla

*The number of animals left in the world were last updated in 2021.

About author

MD and Co-Founder. Born in Zimbabwe, Robin has a long history in Africa, and safaris in general, from running lodges to marketing. He is always on the look out for new ideas and products from around the safari world.

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