National Animals of African Countries

By Kate Hodges Wikimedia Commons
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Angola

Howzit MSN takes a look at some of the national animals and birds of a selection of African states. See gallery

Angola

Angola has a national animal and a national bird, the aptly named Magnificent Frigatebird and the sable antelope. The Magnificent Frigatebird was previously known by an equally storied name - the Man O'War. It was called that due to its silent flight, its speed and its habit of stealing meals from other seabirds. Sub-species of the black sable antelope in Angola are critically endangered.

Wikimedia Commons
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Lesotho

Lesotho

The national animal of the small landlocked kingdom of Lesotho is the black rhinoceros. This critically endangered animal's habitat was much of eastern and central Africa. Many of its subspecies are extinct today. Poaching of the rhino has reached crisis proportions in South Africa as a result of demand for their horns in traditional Chinese medicine. Last week a foreign national was sentenced to 40 years in prison for his role in rhino poaching. The rhinoceros is considered to have no natural predators due to their thick skin, large size and deadly horns - making them a fitting national symbol. They are very aggressive, with the highest mortal combat rate recorded for mammals.

Christian Charisius/ReutersNewscom/RTR
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Madagascar

Madagascar

The national animal of Madagascar is the ring tailed lemur, a unique species of primate that exists only on the African island. Lemurs are believed to have rafted (yes, drifted on rafts) to the island some 65 million years ago. They then evolved into the unique species found today. As is a sad fact with many of the world's most fascinating creatures, lemurs are threatened with extinction today due to habitat loss as a result of logging and due to hunting. Lemurs are of great use to those studying the theory of evolution due to their isolation.

Wikimedia Commons
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Nigeria and Ghana

Nigeria and Ghana

Eagles are another very popular choice, with several countries choosing eagles or varieties of them as their national animal. These include Egypt and Mauritius (Golden Eagle), Nigeria and Ghana (Eagle) and the South Sudan and Zambia (African Fish Eagle). Eagles are known for their speed and (in most cases) size, as well as their position as apex predators in the bird world, this makes them an apt national symbol. The females of all species of eagles are larger than their male counterparts. They are the national symbol for many nations including the United States, Germany, Albania, Spain and many more.

Wikimedia Commons
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Rwanda

Rwanda

The national animal of Rwanda is the African leopard. This African cat is known for its distinctive rosettes (often mistakenly called spots). There are also occurrences of black leopards. They are extremely hardy and able to occupy high mountainous regions, rainforest and desert habitats and have an extremely large diet seeming to eat whatever is available. They are under threat from having to compete with humans for habitat and game and have also been hunted for their distinctive fur.

NOOR KHAMIS/Newscom/RTR
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Ivory Coast

Ivory Coast

Ivory Coast (along with Kenya, Mozambique and South Africa) has chosen the distinctive African elephant as its national animal. Elephants are a popular choice for national symbols with its Indian cousin the Asiatic elephant representing many nations on the sub-continent. The African elephant is the largest land mammal in the world. They are considered among the most intelligent animals on earth and have been shown to feel grief, play, compassion, memory and a sense of humour. Recordings of honeybees have been shown to be effective in driving off elephants which are moving into spaces occupied by humans.

Wikimedia Commons
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Democratic Republic of the Congo

DRC

The Democratic Republic of the Congo has a truly unique national animal in the okapi. These small mammals appear to be a cross between the giraffe (the animal it is most closely related to) and the zebra (due to its distinctive stripes). Okapis have long blue tongues, these tongues are so long they use them to watch their ears. The okapi is not endangered, however, they require relatively large spaces in which to roam and are now threatened by poaching and the destruction of their natural habitat.

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Ethiopia and Liberia

Ethiopia and Liberia

The lion is probably the only national symbol that's more popular than the eagle. Lions are the second largest living cats after tigers, and they are the apex and keystone predators in their natural environments. They can be found in sub-Saharan Africa and in Asia. Lions are considered vulnerable as their numbers in eastern and southern Africa have decreased by 30-50% in the last 20 years due to human interference and habitat loss. Several species of lion have existed since prehistoric times. Other countries that have made lions their national animal are Belgium, Luxemborg, Netherlands, Singapore and others.

Wikimedia Commons
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Botswana

Botswana

Botswana's national animal is the distinctive Zebra, the striped relative of horses and asses. Zebras differ from their equid relatives because of their stripes and the fact that they have not been domesticated. There are several theories for why the zebra has such a distinctive colouring. The theory with the most evidence to support it so far is that the stripes are a deterrent to flies. They are found across most of Eastern and Southern Africa.

YURIKO NAKAO/Newscom/RTR
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Algeria

Algeria

North African nation Algeria opted for the rare and cuddly Fennec fox. It is the smallest fox species in the world and is instantly recognised by its large ears. The cream coloured fox has many differences from other types of foxes - most likely due to the animal's adaptation to its hot desert environment.