What Kind of Animals Live in Africa?

The most well-known animals native to Africa include African elephants, rhinoceroses, hippopotamuses, gazelles, crocodiles, cheetahs, hyenas and lions. The continent is also home to hundreds of unique bird species and thousands of insects, including almost 700 species of dragonfly.

Exotic African animals attract millions of tourists each year. Many come to witness the great wildebeest migration, an annual event during which millions of wildebeests and zebras travel an 1,800-mile circuit in search of food. An estimated 250,000 wildebeests do not complete their journey, serving as food for large predators, such as lions, hyenas, wild dogs and crocodiles. These crocodiles line the shores of the Mara and Grumeti Rivers, eagerly savaging young, sick and isolated prey.

Africa also has the most diverse freshwater fish population on the planet. Most of these fish live in the Nile River and its associated lakes. Nile tilapia and Nile perch are important protein sources for many people living in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. Nile perch, which often exceed 300 pounds and grow up to 6 feet long, are also a favorite target of sports fishermen. Africa also has an abundant population of red catfish. These bottom-dwellers congregate in the Nile River and consume dead matter that sinks from the surface.