The continent of Africa has long held a certain mystique. It is intriguing due to its size, diversity, and largely undeveloped landscape. Africa’s terrain is wild, featuring natural wonders such as deep jungles, scorching deserts, and mighty rivers. But no aspect of Africa has proven more compelling to the rest of the world than its wildlife.
Africa is renowned for its large and diverse animals, also called megafauna . Several are found only in Africa. Historically, the presence of these rare and unusual animals has made Africa a top destination for sightseers, photographers, researchers, and hunters. The ecotourist trade remains a large part of the African economy.
Three Animals Worth Seeing in Africa
Why are people drawn to this wild and untamed place? These three magnificent animals make a trip to Africa worthwhile.
Zebras: Half Black or Half White?
Zebras are classified as equids (horse family). There are three types of zebra. The plains zebra, Grévy’s zebra, and the mountain zebra are all similar in appearance but on closer examination certain difference exist. All are striped with variances in the pattern, density and location of the stripes according to the subspecies. The classes of zebra differ in size and body type as well. For example, the mountain zebra closely resembles a mule while both the Grevy’s and plains zebras are more similar to true horses.
It was long thought Zebras were white animals with black stripes. This pattern is thought to aid in natural camouflage among the tall grasses of savannas and plains. Recently, research has suggested zebras are black with heavy white markings and stripes.
Giraffes: May the Strongest Neck Win
A male giraffe can stand at well over five meters. This height is achieved through evolutionary changes resulting in long legs and an extremely elongated neck. The adaptation is believed to have occurred out of necessity. The giraffe can reach food sources which other herbivores cannot, mainly leaves high up on trees and other large plants.
Male giraffes establish a social hierarchy much like other animals, they fight to show physical dominance. However, giraffes are unique in this behavior. They fight with their necks in a process appropriately called “necking.”
Hippopotamus: The Mighty River Horse is a Whale?
Hippopotamuses, or hippos, are characterized in fiction as peaceful creatures. In fact, the inverse is true. Hippos are extremely aggressive, both towards humans and other animals in their immediate vicinity. An average male weighs around 1500 kg and can move very quickly in short bursts.
Hippos somewhat resemble boars but their closest relatives are the cetaceans, or whales and porpoises. They have webbed feet and nostrils, eyes and ears adapted to the semi-aquatic life they lead.
Exotic Land, Exotic Animals
Wildlife in Africa is large, exotic and untamed, much like the continent they call home. In a competitive and fierce environment, these animals have evolved into creatures unlike anywhere else in the world.