Animal Life of West Africa

Animal Life of West Africa
West Africa has a rich diversity of animal life from enormous mammals to tiny insects. That part of Africa features many of the animals familiar to those in movies and TV shows that have shaped the West's vision of what Africa is like. Opportunities do exist to see some of the more majestic and dangerous animals of West Africa in their natural habitat, but care should always be taken, even when traveling with experienced guides.

African Elephant

The lion may be king of the jungle, despite the fact that very few lions actually live in jungles, but the elephant really reigns supreme in West Africa. The largest land animal currently on Earth can be found across the continent, including countries in the west such as Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Nigeria. Riding atop a domesticated elephant is an experience not to be missed should you find yourself in any part of Africa the elephant calls home.

Mountain Zebra

The southwestern African country of Namibia is home to the large mountain zebra. Due to the mountainous terrain, those zebras are excellent climbers and of sturdy stock, weighing in at more than 500 pounds when mature. Like many animals in Africa, the mountain zebra is a threatened species and rare to see, but it can occasionally be found at watering holes located near some mountain lodges.

Pygmy Hippopotamus

Two species of hippos call Africa home. The much larger one is found in Eastern Africa, which probably comes as great news to its considerably smaller relative, the pygmy hippo. The word "pygmy" may be a bit misleading as these guys can still weigh in at close to 600 pounds. Unlike their Eastern cousins who like to congregate into herds, the smaller hippos are not social butterflies and prefer either being alone with their mates. They can be found in several West African countries including Sierra Leone and The Ivory Coast.

Western Lowland Gorillas

You can tell a western lowland gorilla from other African gorillas by their conical-shaped skulls. They can be found in such West African countries as Cameroon, Angola, and Nigeria. Out in the wild, those gorillas often live into their 30s, but some western lowland gorillas in captivity have actually lived more than 50 years. Although the "Planet of the Apes" movie series transformed gorillas into the aggressive militant crowd of the hairy primate groups, the truth is that for the most of the time, western lowland gorillas are peaceful, and they become aggressive only when competing for food or for mates.

Article Written By Timothy Sexton

Timothy Sexton is an award-winning author who started writing in 1994. He has written on topics ranging from politics and golf to nutrition and travel, and his work appears online for Zappos.com, Disaboom and MOJO, among others. He has also done work for "Sherlock Holmes and Philosophy." He holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of West Florida.

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