Endangered Animals in Africa - Best Places to See these Rare Animals & How to Help

Take a look at the hard facts about 11 10 endangered and critically endangered African animal species that you can still see on wildlife safaris in Africa. This is a quick overview of where in Africa you can see these rare wild animals and how many of each endangered species are left in the wilderness. Also, find out the status of each endangered animal, according to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

What's the point of sharing the bad news? Before you become too despondent, we also share information about ways you can help to save each of these threatened wildlife species in Africa from extinction! 

10 of The Most Endangered Animals in Africa

  1. Riverine Rabbit - Critically Endangered since 2003 
  2. Ethiopian Wolf - Endangered since 2004
  3. Black Rhino - Critically Endangered since 1996
  4. Grevy's Zebra - Endangered since 1986
  5. Pickergill’s Reedfrog - Critically Endangered since 2010
  6. African Wild Dog - Endangered since 1990
  7. Mountain Gorilla - Critically Endangered since 1996
  8. Rothschild's Giraffe - Endangered since 2010
  9. Chimpanzee - Endangered since 1996
  10. African Penguin - Endangered since 2012
  11. Northern White Rhino - Critically Endangered since 1996 Functionally extinct (19 March 2018)

1. Riverine Rabbits - South Africa's most Endangered Animal

The Riverine Rabbit (Bunolagus monticularis) is one of the world's rarest and most endangered mammals and is South Africa's most endangered wildlife species. Critically Endangered since 2003, this rare rabbit is an important species for measuring ecosystem health. 

From GivenGain Critically Endangered Riverine rabbit - From GivenGain


Number of Riverine Rabbits left in the wild:

  • The current population is estimated at less than 250 breeding pairs and is declining.

Main Threats to Endangered Riverine Rabbits:

  • Habitat loss and degradation, hunting for sport and by farm workers, and accidental trapping are the main threats.

Best Places to see Riverine Rabbits:

CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia CommonsRiverine rabbit range - CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

  • The Karoo in South Africa: this endemic species is only found along rivers in Nama and Succulent Karoo areas, in the Central and Small Karoo, of South Africa. Also known as Bushman Rabbits or Bushman Hares, they are found in the Anysberg Nature Reserve, in the Western Cape. 
  • Self-drive tours are the best way to visit Anysberg Nature Reserve and the central Karoo where these extremely rare animals can be seen. Talk to our expert travel consultants and we'll tailor-make a South African road trip for you.


How to Help Save Riverine Rabbits:

Back to the top, or see the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species Riverine Rabbit facts.

2. The Ethiopian Wolf - Africa's most endangered carnivore

The Ethiopian Wolf (Canis simensis) is one of the rarest canid species in the world. Also known as the Simien Jackal or Simien Fox, in 1996 the Ethiopian Wolf was listed as Critically Endangered, but in 2004 it was reclassified as Endangered.

Number of Ethiopian Wolves in Africa: 

  • Fewer than 400 of these endangered wolves remain in the wild.

Laika acEndangered Ethiopian wolf - Laika ac

Main Threats to Ethiopian Wolves: 

  • Loss of Afroalpine habitats due to agriculture, commercial farming and human development.
  • Contracting rabies from dogs herding livestock and other diseases.
  • Road killings, shooting and persecution by humans, and climate warming.

Best Places to see Ethiopian Wolves in the wild: 

Mariomassone Canis simensis subspecies range - Mariomassone

  • Ethiopian Highlands: this species is endemic to the Ethiopian Highlands in Northeast Africa, also known as the Horn of Africa.
  • There are populations in the Simien Mountains (Simien Mountains National Park), Mount Guna, Menz, and the North and South Wollo highlands, north of the Rift Valley. They can also be found in the Arsi Mountains and Bale Mountains (Bale Mountains National Park), south-east of the Rift Valley.
  • Our Ethiopia Tours can be tailored to visit the national parks (Bale and Simien Mountains National Parks) by request.

How to Help Save the Ethiopian Wolf:

Back to the top, or to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species Ethiopian Wolf facts.

2.Black Rhinos - the highest profile endangered animals in Southern Africa

Three subspecies of Black Rhino remain, with the fourth (West African black rhino) declared extinct in 2011, in the savanna habitats of central-west Africa where it once existed. As a species the black rhino is classified as critically endangered.

Number of Black Rhinos (Diceros bicornis) left in the wild: 

  • About 4880 in December 2010 according to IUCN data

Main Threats to Black Rhinos: 

  • Poaching for the illegal, international trade in rhino horn.
  • Habitat loss and hunting by European settlers in the 20th century.
  • Civil unrest and war, increase in weapons and improved communications 

Julian MasonEndangered Black Rhinos in Masai Mara - Julian Mason

Best Places to see Black Rhinos (also known as the hook-lipped rhinoceros) in Africa: 

  • Southern and East Africa: South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, and Kenya.
  • Also found in Tanzania, Botswana (re-introduced), Swaziland and Zambia (re-introduced).
  • In South Africa, you can see black rhinos on our safaris to Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park in KwaZulu-Natal and our Kruger Park Safaris. Several of our budget tours visit both game parks (Kruger & Hluhluwe) making them ideal for spotting black rhinos. 
  • Other top destinations in Southern Africa to see endangered rhinos in the wild, include Etosha Park in Namibia, Moremi in Botswana and Matobo National Park in Zimbabwe - all of which we can take you to.
  • In East Africa, the best places to see black rhinos include Lake Manyara and Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya. Join one of our Kenya Safaris to Lake Nakuru to see black rhinos or contact us for more trip ideas.

How to Help Save Black Rhinos:

Back to the top, or see the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species Black Rhinoceros facts.

4. Grevy's Zebras - the largest and most endangered zebra species

Despite its ability to stand six minutes after birth and run within an hour, Grevy's Zebra has been endangered since 1986 and was still classified as such in 2016.

Number of endangered Grevy's Zebra left in the wild: 

  • Total population in the wild, estimated at about 1966 to 2447 (2008).
  • Estimated 750 mature individuals, with the largest sub-population at about 255 mature individuals.

Main Threats to Grevy's Zebra: 

  • Reduced water sources, habitat degradation and loss from overgrazing, competition for natural resources.
  • Hunting and disease.

Dan LundbergEndangered Grevy's Zebra - Dan Lundberg

Best places to see Grevy's Zebra in Africa: 

Help Save Grevy's Zebra (Equus grevyi):

Back to the top, or see the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species Grevy's Zebra facts.

5. Pickergill’s Reed Frog - endemic to critically endangered coastal wetland habitat

Listed as Critically Endangered in 2010, Hyperolius pickersgilli (Pickergill’s Reed Frog) was first classified as endangered in 2004. In 2016, Pickersgill's Reed Frog was reclassified as Endangered.

This critically endangered reed frog is a habitat specialist, found only on 9km² of the earth's surface in total. This elusive, shy amphibian is found in highly fragmented and declining wetland habitats within a narrow 16km stretch along the KwaZulu-Natal Province coastline in South Africa.

Number of Pickergill’s Reed Frogs left in the wild:

  • A population estimate has yet to be recorded for this critically endangered species!! This quick and elusive frog is found in 17 sites, only two of which are in protected areas - iSimangaliso Wetland Park and the Umlalazi Nature Reserve.

Main Threats to Pickergill’s Reed Frog: 

  • The primary threat driving this species to extinction is habitat loss and fragmentation, due to mining, agriculture and urban development.
  • Much of the small and shrinking habitat of the Pickergill’s Reed Frog is located on sought-after private or commercial coastal land, increasing the problem of habitat loss and fragmentation.
  • Habitat degradation is also a major threat due to human development and wetland drainage.

Places to see Pickergill’s Reed Frog: 

  • KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa: This little frog is extremely rare and difficult to spot in the scattered patches of coastal reedbeds from St Lucia in the north to Warner Beach in the south. 
  • Recorded sightings in iSimangaliso Wetland Park, Umlalazi Nature Reserve and Twinstreams-Mtunzini Natural Heritage Site.

Help Save Pickergill’s Reed Frog:

Back to the top, or view the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species Pickergill’s Reedfrog listing.

6. African Wild Dogs - one of the most endangered carnivores in the world

Also known as the Painted Hunting Dog and Cape Hunting Dog, this canid is Africa's second most endangered carnivore.

Number of African Wild Dogs left in the wild:

  • Currently estimated at approximately 3000 to 5500 individuals.

Main Threats to Lycaon pictus

  • Ongoing habitat fragmentation, conflict with humans, and infectious diseases.

Derek KeatsEndangered African wild dogs - Derek Keats

Best Places to see African Wild Dogs: 

  • Southern Africa: the largest populations are found in Zimbabwe, Botswana, South Africa, Namibia and Zambia
  • Ssouthern parts of East Africa: smaller populations of wild dogs are also found in Tanzania and northern Mozambique.
  • African wild dogs can be spotted on our safaris to Hwange Park in Zimbabwe and our Okavango Delta Safaris, in Botswana.
  • Kruger is one of the prime places to see endangered wild dogs. Join one of our safaris to Kruger Park or talk to our travel experts for more advice on where to see African wild dogs in the wild.

Help Save African Wild Dogs:

Back to the top, or see the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species African Wild Dog facts.

7. African Mountain Gorillas -  the largest and one of the rarest primates alive

A subspecies of endangered Eastern Gorillas, the critically endangered Mountain Gorilla is one of the rarest great apes in the world. The Cross River Gorilla, a subspecies of Western Gorillas, is the world’s most endangered gorilla, with only about 250-300 individuals found in the highlands of Cameroon and Nigeria.

Number of endangered African Mountain Gorillas (Gorilla beringei ssp. beringei) left in the wild:

  • In the region of 880 of these great apes survive in the wild.

Main Threats to endangered Mountain Gorillas:

  • Hunting by humans for bushmeat and human conflict.
  • Habitat loss and human diseases.

Joachim HuberEndangered Mountain Gorilla - Joachim Huber

Best places to see African Mountain Gorillas in the wild: 

Help Save Mountain Gorillas:

Back to the top, or see the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species African Mountain Gorilla facts.

8. Rothschild's Giraffes - the world's tallest land animals and one of the most threatened giraffe subspecies

Rothschild's giraffes have been listed as endangered since 2010, along with the Nigerian Giraffe subspecies, but the classification of subspecies is unclear and other subspecies may well be endangered too.

Number of Rothschild's Giraffes (Giraffa camelopardalis ssp. rothschildi) left in the wild: 

  • Fewer than 670 Rothschild's Giraffes remain in the wild (2010).

Main Threats to Rothschild's giraffes:

  • Habitat loss, population segregation, poaching and human-wildlife conflict.
  • Natural predation.

Diana RobinsonEndangered Rothschild Giraffes in Kenya - Diana Robinson

Places to see the Rothschild's Giraffe (also known as the Baringo or Ugandan Giraffe): 

  • East Africa: About 40% of the wild Rothschild's giraffes left are found in national parks and private reserves in Kenya and the remaining 60% in Uganda.
  • One of the best places to see these giraffes is Lake Nakuru National Park in Kenya. Go see Rothschild's giraffes in the wild on one of our budget Lake Nakuru Safaris.
  • In Uganda, Murchison Falls National Park in the best place to see Rothschild's giraffes. Our Uganda overland camping safari and accommodated overland safari both visit Murchison Falls National Park, in addition to going gorilla trekking in Bwindi Park, as does our small group gorilla trekking safari.

Help Save Rothschild's Giraffes:

Back to the top, or view the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species Rothschild's Giraffe facts.

9. Chimpanzees - our closest living relatives, sharing over 98% of our DNA

The Common Chimpanzee (also called the Robust Chimpanzee) has been endangered for about two decades now, since 1996, with numbers still declining.

Number of endangered chimpanzees left in the wild:

  • Only found in Africa, some 150 000 chimpanzees survive in the wild. Chimpanzees are regionally extinct in Gambia, Burkina Faso, Benin and Togo. 

Main Threats to wild chimpanzee populations: 

  • Poaching is the major threat to the survival of this species.
  • Destruction and degradation of natural habitats due to logging, agriculture and mining.
  • Hunting for bushmeat, the illegal pet trade, snaring and use in traditional medicines.
  • Infectious diseases also pose a threat to chimpanzee populations.

Rod WaddingtonEndangered Chimpanzee in Kibale, Uganda - Rod Waddington

Best places to see wild chimpanzees in Africa: 

Help Save Chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes):

Back to the top, or to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species Chimpanzee facts.

10. African Penguins - Africa's only penguin species

Also called the Black-footed Penguin (Spheniscus demersus) was added to the Red List of Threatened Species in 2010, given a population decline of about 60% over 28 years (across three generations).

Number of African Penguins (aka Jackass Penguins) remaining in the wild:

  • About 52,000 mature individuals remain with populations declining rapidly.

Main Threats to African Penguins: 

  • Commercial fisheries and environmental changes leading to food shortages.
  • Deaths as the result of oil spills, especially near harbours - with two individual oil spills killing 30,000 penguins in 1994 and 2000.
  • Shifts in sardine and anchovy populations, competition with Cape fur seals for food and habitats, and predation also pose threats.
  • Human disturbances including egg and guano collection, as well as the negative impacts of tourism. 

Paul MannixEndangered African penguins in South Africa - Paul Mannix

Places to see endangered African Penguins: 

Help Save African Penguins:

Back to the top, or see the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species African Penguin facts.

11. Northern White Rhinos - the most endangered rhino subspecies in the world Functionally extinct since 19 March 2018

Teetering on the brink of extinction, the reality is that this subspecies of white rhino will die out by the end of the next decade, or so.

The last male Northern White Rhino died on 19 March 2018. This gentle rhino was euthanised due to a degenerative illness coupled with age-related complications.

"Conservationists have warned that the death of the last male northern white rhinoceros in Kenya is a sign that unsustainable human activity is driving a new era of mass extinctions around the globe." (Last male northern white rhino's death highlights 'huge extinction crisis', The Guardian).  

Some scientists claim that the Northern White Rhino is, in fact, a separate species of rhino, but a consensus is unlikely to be was not reached before this type of rhino goes went extinct. The only hope left is that we may be able to bring the sub-species back from extinction by using artificial methods of in vitro fertilization in the future.

Number of Northern White Rhinos left in the wild: 

  • ONE male left in the world.
  • The last two wild Northern White Rhinos (two females) are found in the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya where the last male Northern White Rhino died in March. These two female rhinos are under 24-hour armed protection.

"Unless other Northern White Rhino are found in the wild, the best that can currently be hoped for is to conserve as many adaptive Northern White Rhino genes as possible for eventual reintroduction back to the wild, but this will require inter-crossing with Southern White Rhino" - IUCN.

Main Threats that drove the Northern White Rhino to extinction: 

  • Poaching for the international trade in rhino horn.
  • Civil wars in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Sudan. 

The only place where you can see the two female Northern White Rhinos remaining in the wild: 

 Our three Kenya Safaris that take you to Ol Pejeta Conservancy:

Help protect the last female Northern White Rhinos:

  • Support the Keep Rhino Rangers Safe Emergency Campaign at Ol Pejeta Conservancy.

Back to the top, or view the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species Northern White Rhinoceros facts.

Note: The other white rhino subspecies - the Southern White Rhino is listed as Near Threatened and an estimated 20 000 of these rhinos remain in the wild (2010). The Southern White Rhinos are mostly found in South Africa, with smaller populations in Botswana, Namibia, Swaziland and Zimbabwe, as well as populations in Zambia, Uganda and Kenya.

Other Endangered, Vulnerable and Near Threatened Wildlife Species in East and Southern Africa

  • Addax - Critically Endangered since 2000
  • African Elephant - from Endangered in 1996 to Vulnerable in 2004, with its status currently being uncertain.
  • Lion - Vulnerable since 1996
  • Cheetah - listed as Vulnerable since 1986, but the Saharan Cheetah found in parts of northwest Africa is Critically Endangered.
  • Cuvier's Gazelle - Endangered since 1986
  • Pangolin - Four species in Africa, all listed as Vulnerable
  • Cape Vulture (or Cape Griffon) - listed as Vulnerable since 1994
  • Southern White Rhino - listed as Near Threatened since 1994
  • Pygmy Hippopotamus - Endangered since 2006
  • Blue Crane - South Africa's national bird, listed as Vulnerable since 1994
  • Dugong - Vulnerable since 1982
  • Leatherback Turtle - found along the coast of East Africa, Critically Endangered since 2000

Jeroen LooyCritically Endangered Leatherback Turtle - Jeroen Looy

As you can see, many of the population figures are relatively old and data that is available on the endangered animals is often uncertain, so these are just estimates. The lack of up-to-date and comprehensive information supports a precautionary approach if we want to avoid more extinctions like the Northern White Rhino. To find out more about threatened and endangered animals visit the red list of Endangered Species on IUCN (the International Union for Conservation of Nature).

The main threats to these endangered African wildlife species are habitat loss and degradation; and poaching and hunting. Almost all of the causes pushing these species towards extinction are human-related. As the main drivers of animal extinction, it is up to humanity to save these species. 

Take one of the actions in this post to help save these endangered animals and support the sanctuaries that protect them by visiting and donating. 


Best South Africa Safaris to see Endangered Animals: 

On these tours, you are likely to see: Black Rhino, African Wild Dog and African Penguin, along with various other rare wild animals.

Best East Africa Safaris to see Endangered Animals: 

Get in touch with us and we will take you to see the rare and endangered wild animals of Africa before it is too late! 


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