Africa’s Most Endangered Animals, Part 2

The Pygmy Hippo

The shy and elusive pygmy hippo is the less-known relative of the common hippo. It is native to the West African forests and swamps of Guinea, Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast and Liberia. Liberian forests house a great deal of them.

It is about half the length of its cousin and is outweighed by a long shot, but it is still quite large, in its own right. A quarter of a ton is no joke. Therefore, the “pygmy” appellation is relative.

The colour of a pygmy hippo’s skin often ranges between brown and grey with a greenish tinge. It has a smaller head, longer neck, longer legs and a back that slopes forward (unlike its cousin’s relatively straighter back). Its eyes are also more deviated to the sides of its face, and its nostrils, less pronounced. The common hippo, on the other hand, has high-set eyes and more pronounced nostrils. All these features make it more adapted to live on land, relatively. However, they can be just as amphibious as their cousins, if need be.

About 3000 individuals are left in the wild. This is due to heavy deforestation, and the fact that they are hunted for their “high-quality” meat. One of the subspecies native to Southern Nigerian swamps hasn’t even been sighted in a long time. This has led experts to assume that it might be extinct.

The Hooded Vulture

Like most other vulture species, the hooded vulture doesn’t exactly strike one as comely. It’s bare-crowned, has a dark brown plumage and a crest of downy feathers at the back of its head and neck. The downy feathers take the shape of a hood. It’s quite small, compared to the other vultures. This helps it soar above thermal currents to quickly detect carrion on the ground. It is also less wary of humans, compared to other vultures. It, therefore, frequently pops up at human encampments to feed.

The decline rate of the hooded vulture population has been alarming in recent years. Their numbers have drastically dropped largely due to:


They’re being heavily hunted for food and medicine. Apparently, a lot of superstitious African folks believe that vulture parts can be used as an integral component of rituals. The purposes of these rituals often include healing, acquisition of intelligence, and spiritual cleansing. Northern Nigeria contains some of the most booming markets for vulture sales.


Vultures have been victims of poisoning, be it accidentally or out of spite. Poachers of other animals, for example, find intentional poisoning particularly useful. Vultures are a nuisance to them. They circle over carcasses, alerting security officials of the disaster left behind by poachers. So, poachers poison carrion to cover the tracks of their clandestine activities when vultures come to feed on them. That way, there would be no vultures circling the skies to alert security officials.

Avian Influenza

It has killed a significant number of these creatures.

Habitat loss is also a major culprit.

At the moment, the hooded vulture is critically endangered on the IUCN scale.

Fortunately, measures have been put in place to stabilize their population. They are protected in many West African and Northeastern countries and in South Africa under the United Nations Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS), in the Memorandum of Understanding on the Conservation of Migratory Birds of Prey in Africa and Eurasia.

The Black Rhino

Cousin to the white rhino, is another member of Africa’s big boys on this list. Some of the major differences between the two related species are as follows:

  • The black rhino is smaller. Adults may weigh more than a ton, but their cousins are larger and weigh more, on average.
  • It has a smaller head which is positioned relatively higher on its body, compared to its cousin.
  • The Black Rhino has a hooked lip, compared to the square-shaped lip of its cousin, which is a reflection of their different diets and feeding behaviours. The former is adapted to feeding on shrubs, leafy plants and fruits. White rhinos are primarily grazers.

Black rhinos are renowned for their aggressive nature and their mortal fights. Their numbers have dwindled over the last century, from hundreds of thousands to less than 3000. The major reasons are drastic changes in their habitat, poaching, and other competing species.

Grevy’s Zebras

Grevy’s zebras are very vocal mammals. They possess a wide spectrum of vocalizations that includes grunts, whistles, squeals, brays, snorts and even barks. They are large equids that live in semi-arid grasslands where they feed on grass, mainly. Like other zebras, they are covered in stripes of black and white. They live in herds headed by territorial stallions, who keep gangs of other adult stallions away from the herd, especially during breeding seasons.

Their numbers have dropped in the last half-century from almost 20000 to less than 4000 individuals. However, their population is considered stable, thanks to conservation efforts. We hope this trend stays the way it is, or perhaps even gets better.

Rothschild’s Giraffe:

Rothschild’s giraffes are beautiful and elegant animals whose adults often reach heights of almost 20 feet and weigh about a ton, on average. They were recognized as a distinct species in the 2000s. Their unique coat pattern, the lack of markings on their legs and the number of ossicones on their heads (five) set them apart from their other close relatives. Ossicones are skin-covered bony protrusions situated on the heads of giraffes and okapi in place of horns in other ungulates.

They live in small herds and mate all year-round. Their natural predators are few — usually big carnivores, like lions, hyenas for example. The Rothschild’s giraffe is classified as “near-threatened,” with about 2000 individuals still roaming the wild.

Other notable mentions are:

The African Penguin

Apparently, not all penguins live in cold regions, as you might have been led to believe prior to reading this post. The African penguin is a species of penguin native to the warm climes of Southern Africa. (Yes, we have penguins, Africa náà ò kéré nínú ayé😂.)

Mountain Bongo

A large species of forest antelope — with reddish-brown fur covered in white stripes. The Mountain Bongo is native to the mountainous forests of Kenya.


The second of man’s closest cousins on this list. The chimpanzee population in Africa is also threatened, no thanks to poaching and habitat loss.


Apparently, almost all of Africa’s iconic animals are threatened in one way or the other. The African lion, the cheetah and even the African elephant are now “vulnerable.” If efforts aren’t intensified to reduce poaching and encroachment on wildlife space, some of these animals risk extinction in the next half-century or thereabout.

However, It’s not too late to start correcting the wrongs we have done to our ecosystem. The least we can do is to keep their numbers stable for the next generation to see and appreciate them — a priceless legacy it will be if we’re successful.

1 reply on “Africa’s Most Endangered Animals, Part 2”

  • The African penguin is cute. It must not go extinct..and now I want one so badly😪. i’d name him private or kowalski 😅

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