The combined efforts of governments and private organizations have kept many endangered species from going extinct. In Kenya, officials from the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust are working to save the life of an elephant bull that was shot with two poisoned arrows. Just two weeks earlier, more than ten rhinos died in a botched translocation operation.

Many of the animals that we know and love are threatened or endangered. They lose their habitats to human settlement. They are killed for their tusks, horns, and hides. Sometimes they are killed by farmers who feel that their crops and livestock are threatened. Animals like lemurs and tortoise are smuggled for sale as pets.

 

Black rhino

The threats

Demand market for rhino horns remains high in some countries. Powdered rhino horn is used as medicine in some parts of Asia. Sometimes it is used as an aphrodisiac. Rhino horn items are a symbol of wealth for high-income earners in Vietnam, as well as other Asian countries.

Poaching is the biggest threat to the survival today. In the east and Southern Africa, poachers hunt and kill the endangered beasts. Criminals provide poachers with sophisticated weapons and tracking equipment. They sell the horns to smugglers, who in turn get it to buyers. High prices for rhino horns drive the poachers to risk everything hunt them.

What is being done

The battle for the survival of the rhino is being fought on many fronts. Conservationists lobby for harsher sentences to discourage poaching, they create secure sanctuaries for rhino, they also try to highlight any attempts by poachers to evade justice by corrupt means. Organizations that fight to save rhinos from poaching will build strong relationships with local communities, in the hope that they will share useful information in exchange.

There is still a long way to go. But there is still much to celebrate. Wildlife enthusiasts will be happy to hear that the population of rhinos has increased in recent years and that fewer animals are being poached. Safe sanctuaries like the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy in Kenya offer rhinos the opportunity to live, breed, and raise their young in a safe space.

Save the Rhino (savetherhino.org) supports rangers. Rangers are the first line of defense against poachers. They are out in the bush, tracking the activities of poachers and keeping an eye on the rhinos. Save the Rhino also tries to get the support of local communities in Africa and to reduce the demand for rhino horn in Asia.

In KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa, a dog unit tracks poachers on the ground while another unit does aerial surveillance. Poachers offer people money in exchange for information, which makes it necessary for the Anti Poaching units to spend time building relationships with the communities.

As an extreme measure, the World Wildlife Fund has moved some rhinos from South Africa to the relative safety of Botswana. Swaziland has even moved some elephants to American zoos to reduce competition with rhinos. Some organizations like the Chipembere Foundation contribute by equipping rangers with high-tech equipment like bullet-proof vests, boots, and monitoring equipment just to make their dangerous job a little easier. They also contribute towards dog-units and translocation efforts.

While some fear that the black rhino will be gone in 10 years, others are optimistic enough to even dream of restocking places like the Zambezi plains, which have not seen a rhino in 30 years.

One more approach is to make rhinos unattractive to poachers by dehorning them in advance, as vets in Somkhanda Game Reserve, South Africa, are doing.

Where to see them

The best places to see black rhinos are in Namibia, Botswana, South Africa, Kenya, and Tanzania.

Damaraland in Namibia is the home of the largest free black rhino population in Africa. The rhinos have acclimatized themselves to the desert climate. Namibia has set apart a massive 40% of its land to protected wildlife reserves.

In Namibia’s Etosha National Park, the black rhino population has seen a resurgence in recent years.

Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya is the home of the largest group of black rhinos in Africa. 80 black rhino live here, and they are not at all hard to spot. Visitors can feed a blind rhino called Baraka. Lewa and Borana Conservancy in Kenya also has a healthy population of rhinos.

A full one-third of South Africa’s black rhinos live in the Southern Kalahari, South Africa. One could also consider Madikwe.

In Tanzania, the Selous Game Reserve us the place to be. It is larger than the Serengeti but receives fewer visitors.

 

White rhino

White rhino - endangered species in Africa

The threats

After elephants, white rhinos are the largest land mammals. They are noticeably larger than black rhinos. There are thousands of Southern white rhino left in the wild, compared to only fifty thirty years ago. Only two northern white rhinos live, and both are at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya. The only bull died in 2018. White rhinos live in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Namibia, and Kenya.

White rhinos are more vulnerable to poaching than black rhinos. Their relatively docile demeanor and large herd size make them an easier target. White rhinos suffer when their habitats are destroyed. Some war-prone parts of Africa, like Sudan and Congo, are difficult for anti-poaching units to patrol.

 

What is being done

In March of 2018, the only remaining male Northern white rhino died at Ol Pejeta in Nanyuki, Kenya. It was a hard lesson for everyone to make sure that other rhino species do not suffer the same fate.

Organizations like World Wildlife Fund (WWF) have been working with law enforcement agencies, sensitizing them and educating them on environmental issues and crime. They are also working to disrupt the ivory business in Asia.

With smaller rhino populations, conservationists must practice translocation to avoid inbreeding. Some rhino populations are kept in captivity and in secure sanctuaries. These rhinos can be reintroduced to the wild in future.

Where to see them

Most of the white rhinos live in South Africa, but there are still large rhino populations in Kenya, Zimbabwe, and Namibia.

Visit KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa to see white rhinos living free. Some black rhinos live here, too. While you are in South Africa, you can also visit Kruger National Park, where there are 10,000 white rhinos. Don’t forget Hlane, Umkhuze, or Pilanesberg.

Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya is home to the only two surviving Northern White Rhinos in the world. This is after the death of a bull named Sudan in March 2018. At the upmarket Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, guests will find both white rhino and black rhino. White rhinos are easy to spot at Lake Nakuru National Park, too.

In Namibia, you will find white rhinos at Etoshe National Park and Kunene.

 

African Wild Dog

African Wild Dogs may not be as well known as lions, but they are probably the most successful predators in the African savanna. Their strategy is cooperation, and they have mastered it to a T. Humans have tried to domesticate it without success. There are only 5,000 African Wild Dog’s left in the wild.

African Wild Dog

The threats

The only natural enemy of the African Wild Dog is the lion. More lions usually mean less African Wild Dogs. The main threat to the dogs’ survival is human activity. Their habitats are taken over by human settlements. African Wild Dogs hunt over a large territory, and as people build settlements, set up farms, or use the land for grazing, they lose territory.  

Sometimes they are shot down by farmers who fear a loss of livestock. This threat is not real. African Wild Dogs have rarely been found to attack livestock.

Sometimes they catch diseases from domestic animals. One African Wild Dog infected with rabies will spread the infection to the rest of the pack. Some of them are infected with Distemper.

In some game reserves, the dogs were culled because wildlife managers believed that their hunting methods were disruptive to ecosystems. This slaughter thankfully came to an end decades ago and they are now protected in seven countries.

Many of them are run over by vehicles as they attempt to cross roads. Sometimes they fall into the snares of hunters.

What is being done

The World Wildlife Fund is creating protected areas for the African Wild Dog, preventing important wildlife corridors from being taken over, and minimizing conflict between the dogs and farmers.

In Zimbabwe, Painted Dog conservation works to help the remaining 700 odd African Wild Dogs in Zimbabwe to thrive.

In Samburu, Kenya, African Wildlife Foundation deploys scouts who monitor the movements of the wild dogs, and alert herders to avoid them. They also help the herders to construct bomas that will keep predators away from their livestock.

Where to see them

African Wild Dogs are not easy to spot, because their territories are so large. The only time they remain in one place for a while is during the denning season, which is May-September in Southern Africa and slightly earlier in Eastern Africa. It is not possible to guarantee an African Wild Dog sighting, but they are a common sight in some places during denning season.

There are more African Wild Dogs living in Northern Botswana than anywhere else in the world. Try the Okavango Delta, Savuti, Linyanti, Kwando, and Selina. Hwange in Zimbabwe and South Africa’s Madikwe also offer excellent African Wild Dog Sighting opportunities.

AWD sightings are common in the Luangwa Valley, Zambia where the AWD population has been growing.

Try the Mana Pools in the Lower Zambezi Valley, Zimbabwe. They den there every year between May and November.

In Kenya, they den regularly in Meru National Park and in Laikipia. You can also try the Ruaha National Park and Selous Game Reserve in Tanzania.

 

African lion

The mighty African lion has no natural predators. Yet it remains one of the most endangered animals, and only occupies 8% of the territory that it once did.

The threats

The lions are threatened by loss of habitat. Infections like distemper make them weak. They are killed by livestock herders who want to eliminate threats to their livestock. They are hunted and poached by herders.

What is being done

Herders in different parts of Africa are building lion-proof enclosures for their livestock, thus reducing the need to kill lions. Population growth and urbanization increase the contact that lions have with humans.

Where to see them

The Maasai Mara-Serengeti ecosystem across Kenya and Tanzania offers some of the best lion viewing opportunities. Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania is densely populated with lions. Still, in Tanzania, the Lake Manyara National Park is well known for its tree-climbing lions. Lions are a common sight in Maasai Mara, Kenya. If you happen to be in Nairobi on business, the Nairobi National Park is less than half an hour’s drive away from town.

In Zambia, try South Luangwa and Kafue to see large prides of lions. Kafue doesn’t have too many tourists so you can enjoy a more tranquil experience.

Okavango Delta and Chobe in Botswana definitely make the list, and so does Etosha in Namibia.

If you are in South Africa, Kruger is the place to be.

African Elephant

Elephants are easily the largest land mammals on the planet. There two species of elephant in Africa: the African Bush Elephant, and the African forest elephant. Elephants play a critical role in ecosystems. They travel in families that are led by a matriarch.  

Elephant

The threats

African elephants are killed for their ivory tusks, which are still traded in Asian markets. They are also killed by farmers for encroaching on their crops. Loss of habitat contributes to the stress on elephant populations in Africa.

 

What is being done

Save the Elephants is collaring and radio tracking elephants to understand their movements better. The Elephants and  Bees project uses beehive fences to keep crops safe from elephants and elephants safe from people. The International Elephant Foundation is educating local communities by equipping and training conservationists. They seek practical solutions to human-wildlife conflict.

The World Wildlife Fund is helping communities to create early-warning systems that eliminate fatal encounters between humans and elephants.

Where to see them

Chobe National Park in Botswana is the home of some of the largest elephant herds in Africa. 100 strong elephant herds roam this wilderness, watered by the Chobe River. Okavango Delta is a good choice, too.

350 elephants live in South Africa’s Addo Elephant Park, where they are impossible to miss.

Kenya’s Amboseli National Park has some of the best opportunities for elephant safaris and photography.

At Damaraland in Namibia, the slightly smaller elephants with longer legs are adapted to the desert climate.

Track elephants on foot at South Luangwa National Park in Zambia.

 

Tortoise

The radiated tortoise of Madagascar is a beautiful creature; known to live for well over a hundred years. It is also critically endangered.

Ploughshare tortoises, also native to Madagascar, are critically endangered.

The odd-looking African spurred tortoise lives at the edge of the Sahara desert and can live as long as 150 years.

Ploughshare tortoises

The leopard tortoise grazes on the savanna grasslands of East and Southern Africa.

The threats

In Madagascar, the main threats to tortoises are the destruction of habitat and high demand for tortoise pets. Like the radiated tortoise, the spurred tortoise is popular as a pet. There are already less than 600 ploughshare tortoises left in the world.

What is being done

In 2013, smugglers were caught trying to sneak dozens of tortoises out of Madagascar. It takes a lot of vigilance to keep determined criminals from selling them off as pets.

Where to see them

Visit Madagascar to see the Radiated tortoise.

Tortoises live all over the African savannah, but you can see some large tortoises in Kenya’s Haller Park and Mamba Village. La Vanille Nature Park in Mauritius and Curieuse in Seychelles both have large tortoises.

Lemur

Lemurs are wide-eyed primates that live in the tropical rainforests of Madagascar, and nowhere else in Africa. They are neither apes nor monkeys. 105 out of 111 lemur species are endangered.  

Lemur

The threats

These creatures have achieved the unfortunate status of being declared the most endangered primates in the world. Lemurs lose part of their home whenever a section of the forest is destroyed by loggers. Sometimes they are hunted for meat or captured for sale.

 

What is being done

The IUCN is working to protect the parts of the tropical forest where the most endangered lemurs live. They are also fighting poverty using ecotourism programs.   

 

Where to see them

There is only one place to see lemurs, and that is in Madagascar.

Leopard

Leopards are famous for their beautiful fur and their hunting prowess. Unlike lions who have large families, leopards are solitary animals. They are also remarkably silent.

Leopard

The threats

African leopards have lost most of their former territories to human activity. Sometimes they are hunted for their gorgeous fur. Sometimes they are hunted by herders when they attack livestock. People who hunt game meat make it harder for leopards to find prey.

What is being done

In Tanzania, organizations like the African Wildlife Foundation are helping farmers to build leopard-proof shelters for their livestock. They use GPS collars to track the movements of leopards in the quest to learn more about them, and how they interact with people.

 

Where to see them

Leopards are masters of stealth, so you are never guaranteed a chance to see one. That said, there are some locations where you are more likely to see one.

In South Africa’s Greater Kruger area, you are likely to spot one of these exquisite cats. There is a fairly large population of them living here, and they have become sufficiently habituated to safari vehicles to not be too shy.

Botswana’s Okavango Delta hosts a decent population of leopards, as does Savute in Chobe National Park.

Kenya’s Maasai Mara is a good place to spot leopards, especially in the places where vegetation is slightly denser.

For night-time leopard spotting, visit Zambia’s South Luangwa National Park, where evening game drives offer great opportunities.

Namibia has Okonjima lodge, where big cats are offered sanctuary.

Grevy’s Zebra

Grevy’s Zebra live in parts of Ethiopia and Kenya. There are now only about 2,000 mature Grevy’s zebras left in the wild. Not too many young Grevy’s Zebras make it to adulthood because the competition for scarce resources is so fierce. Water and pastures are precious commodities in the arid regions that are overstocked with livestock.

The threats

Habitat loss and hunting are the main threats. In Ethiopia, some people hunt the Grevy’s zebra for their unique hide, some hunt them for their meat, and occasionally some people will hunt them for medicinal purposes.

In Kenya’s arid North, grazing land is a scarce and precious commodity. Sometimes they die from diseases like anthrax, which they contract from livestock.

 

What is being done

Some land has been set aside for wildlife to live in the Buffalo Spring Reserve. Here, the Kenya Wildlife Service has fitted Grevy’s Zebras with collars for easier tracking of their movements and activities. Scientists will be better placed to conserve them if they understand their movements. Samburu Shaba is another place where you can find Grevy’s Zebra.

Wildlife scouts assist the conservation using vehicles and communication devices.

Where to see them

Grevy’s Zebra only live in Kenya and Ethiopia. There are only 3,000 of them left, down from 15,000 in the 1970s. They have larger ears and narrower stripes than other zebras. Lewa Conservancy in Kenya is a good place to visit. Lewa has over 300 Grevy’s Zebra, as well as black and white rhinos, lions, giraffe among others.

Visit the Halledeghe in Ethiopia for a unique experience.

 

Ethiopian Wolf

The Ethiopian wolf carries the unfortunate distinction of being the most endangered carnivore in Africa. There are only 400 of them left surviving in the mountains of South Africa. It is also the only African wolf. They live only in Ethiopia, as their name suggests.

Ethiopian Wolf

The threats

Human activity is the main threat to the existence of the Ethiopian Wolf. Agricultural activity is taking over the territory of the wolves. Leaving them with no home and no food. The land is cleared to grow crops, and sometimes overgrazing by livestock destroys their hunting ground.

Like the African Wild Dog, the Ethiopian wolf is vulnerable to rabies and distemper. Diseases have killed 30% of them since 2008.

What is being done

Conservationists are working with local communities to establish sustainable livelihoods for communities and enlisting their support in the conservation efforts. African Domesticated dogs are being vaccinated against rabies to prevent them from infecting the wolves with the disease.

 

Where to see them

There is only one place to see the Ethiopian wolf and that place in Ethiopia. The largest group lives in the Bale mountains. You can also visit the Simien Mountains.

Eastern Gorilla

Eastern gorillas are the largest primates. They are also critically endangered, with only about 5,000 of them left in the wild. There are two subspecies of Eastern gorillas: mountain gorilla and eastern lowland gorilla. They live in the Congo, Rwanda, and Uganda.

Eastern Gorilla

Eastern lowland gorillas can only be found in the Congo tropical rainforest. They are stocky and large, with large hands and long arms.

The threats

Eastern gorillas are killed for bushmeat, especially in the Congo. Gorillas are easy targets because of their large size. They have been hunted down to less than 3800 individuals.

Some native medicine men use gorilla body parts to prepare the medicine.

Valuable minerals are found in the park where they live, and people have moved in to conduct mining. This threatens the gorillas because they lose their home.

Conflict in the Congo makes it difficult for wildlife rangers to do their work. It also makes it difficult for authorities to enforce anti-poaching laws.

Some gorillas die from infections like Ebola.

What is being done

Organizations like the World Wide Fund for Nature are working to keep the tropical forests where gorillas live free from human encroachment. They are recruiting the communities as partners in conservation. They are also fighting to end the trade in gorillas and their products.

Where to see them

There are three locations for gorilla tracking in Africa: Congo, Rwanda, and Uganda.

If you are looking to go gorilla trekking in Uganda, consider the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park. Here there are four groups of gorillas. They are habituated to humans. The Mgahinga National Park is part of the Virunga ecosystem which stretches into Congo.

Consider Mt. Sabinio, where a small forest touches on Uganda, Rwanda, and Congo. The forest is surrounded by lush farmlands.

Rwanda is the most popular destination for gorilla trekking. Try Volcanoes National Park.

Odzala National Park and Noubale National Park in the Congo is one of the few places where you can see lowland gorillas.

Cheetah

Cheetahs are the fastest land animals on earth. Every aspect of their physique is designed to maximize speed. They are slender with long limbs that make it easier for them to run fast. They hunt smaller grazers like gazelles, impala, and baby wildebeest. Cheetahs live in Africa, but there are small numbers of cheetahs in Iran.

 

The threats

Cheetahs are killed by farmers who consider them pests. They lose their natural habitats to human settlements and farming. Cheetahs are also hunted by poachers who sell them as pets or sell their hide as trophies.

What is being done

Conservationists are working to help farmers to build cheetah proof bomas for their livestock and compensating them for livestock that is eaten by cheetahs. This is meant to discourage retaliation.

Where to see them

Cheetahs are loners who love to hide in tall grass, so they are not that easy to spot. But they are easier to spot in some places than others. The Maasai Mara and Serengeti are always a favorite, as is Lewa Downs in Kenya.

Head down to Botswana and you will probably spot cheetahs in Okavango, Kwando, Selina, and Sevute. The Central Kalahari Game Reserve is a good bet, too. Some private reserves in KwaZulu-Natal as well as the Eastern Cape, South Africa have cheetahs. Etosha National Park has more cheetahs than any other park in Namibia.

 

Chimpanzee

Not many of the animals on earth are closer to humans than chimpanzees. Chimpanzees live in the forests of Congo, Senegal, Cameroon, Tanzania, Rwanda, Kenya, and Uganda. They are eaten by leopards and humans.

 

The threats

According to the Africa Wildlife Foundation, chimpanzees are losing their habitats at an alarming rate. When forests are cleared for farming or for timber harvesting, chimpanzees lose their home and they struggle to find food and shelter. Indigenous forests in East, Central, and West Africa are targeted by loggers for their high-value timber.

Chimpanzees are also hunted for meat in countries where bushmeat is popular. People have always hunted them for subsistence, but now that they are doing it for subsistence, the numbers of chimpanzees lost to hunters are getting more and more unsustainable.

Chimpanzees are vulnerable to human diseases, too. So don’t go chimpanzee tracking while you are fighting an infection.

What is being done

Organizations like the African Wildlife Foundation are educating communities on the importance of conservation. They are also helping communities to practice sustainable agriculture.

In West Africa, World Wildlife Fund is working to preserve the natural habitats of chimpanzees and to protect corridors.

 

Where to see them

If you are looking to combine chimpanzee and gorilla tracking, try Uganda or Rwanda. In Madagascar, you can track chimpanzees and lemurs. They can walk upright but they usually are on fours. Mahale in Tanzania and Kibale in Uganda are two prime locations. Nyungwe Forest National Park in Rwanda has large populations of gorillas, chimps, and monkeys.

The Virunga National Park in Congo is also a good location.