Rare and Unusual African Animals


eye-eye ©ramsesoriginal/Flickr

Africa is well-known for its abundant wildlife. While for the rest of the world, lions, giraffes or hippos are the kind of animals that they only see in a zoo or at the circus, in Africa’s numerous national parks and reserves you can have high chances to see them in the wilderness. Animals like the lions, buffalo, elephant, cheetah and rhino are often known as the Africa’s Big Five, and many of those booking a safari trip will want to see them. But you should know that these are not the only animals that are worth seeing. Africa is a vast continent, with amazing biodiversity, and there are many interesting animal species in its rainforests, bushlands and deserts. Here are some rare and unusual African animals to look for:


At a first sight, Okapi seems rather surreal: it has the striped legs and bottom of a zebra, the muscular body of a giraffe, the short neck and big years of a donkey. Yet this animal does exist, and can still be found into the wild. Its habitat is very specific, though: oakpi can only be found in the highland rainforests of the Democratic Republic of Congo, in the very heart of Africa.

African animal

Okapy © Derek Keats/Flickr

Eye Eye

Mentioning the eye eye here feels a bit like cheating, since this animal is endemic to Madagascar, an island with a record number of rare and unusual animal species. But there are many characteristics that make the eye-eye very special and unique, even among its lemur relatives: it is nocturnal (and thus quite difficulty to spot), it has the teeth of a rodent, a very long middle finger, and it is highly endangered.


eye-eye ©ramsesoriginal/Flickr


Another truly endangered animal is the hirola, a relative of antelope and impala. There are just a few hundred hirola left, and they live somewhere between Kenya and Somalia. Considering how small the population of hirola has become, the species is considered to be close to extinction.

Golden cat

Zoologists cannot say much about the African golden cat. This animal is so solitary, that it is hardly ever seen by humans, not to mention filmed. Its fur is not quite golden, but rather ginger/orange. The golden cat lives in the deep, shady rainforests of Central and  West Africa.

Ethiopian Wolf

The Ethiopian Wolf is world’s rarest, most endangered wolf species. It lives in the highlands of Ethiopia, at altitudes above 3000m. The only two places in the world were this wold can still be see are Simien Mountains National Park and Bale Mountains National Park.

endangered species

Ethiopian wolf ©Indrik myneur/Flickr

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