Interesting the popular perception of Africa as opposed to the reality. While most “Western” folks are still told tales stemming back to the colonialist days and imagine wide swathes of Africa south of the Sahara to be laden with greenery, the truth is that woodland, forest, rainforest – jungle, if you will – is actually a small part of the continent.
The simple answer to the question is “You bet!” although it should be noted that the continent is hardly dominated by the sort of lush greenery teeming with life and rife with hanging vines and such as depicted in Tarzan, for example. In terms of straight-up forest and woodland area, Africa contains some 16.5% of that 31% of Earth’s landmass (not including Antarctica) which is forest/woodlands. This comes out to a total of 2.665 million square miles, or 22.7%, of African land covered by forest/woodland area.
But let’s talk about that term “jungle.” Few would term a peaceful couple acres’ worth of trees in, say, the northeastern US or Central Europe a “jungle.” In the minds of most, the word ungle conjures up images of lofty trees supporting an independent ecosystem of animals, plant life, insects, etc. Essentially, the natural “jungle” of the early 20th century has been replaced by “rainforest” by the early 21st, with “jungle” considered by many to be something of a pejorative term best limited to expressions like “concrete jungle” and “It’s a jungle out there.” Few professionals today would discuss jungles in a scientific context, but would rather use rainforest as subject matter.
In Africa, the great majority of forest/woodland area is rainforest – and all of said rainforest in Africa is concentrated in two sub-Saharan areas of the continent.
As in Europe and vast areas of Asia, most of Africa’s naturally wooded area is long gone due to the ravages of human civilization’s advance. Today, some 80% of the remaining 2.6 million-plus square miles of Africa’s wooded area is concentrated in rainforest along the Congo River.
All of Africa’s “jungle” area in the present day is sub-Saharan and may border savannah land, steppes or beach land. Some of the African rainforest includes vegetative growth expanding all the way to the Atlantic coast, as with the relatively smaller patches of wooded area in Ivory Coast and Liberia.
And if you followed the Congo River – incidentally the world’s second-largest by volume in its drainage of 1.4 million square miles of land – upstream from its terminus in the Atlantic, you wouldn’t get through the Congo Rainforest until emerging more than halfway across the continent.
The largest jungle area in Africa is, by a long stretch, the Congo Rainforest. The Congo jungle(s) is/are those that gave sub-Saharan Africa its reputation as a haven for the sort of environment depicted in children’s books and 19th-century literature.
As mentioned directly above, this rainforest spans through parts of seven countries (Nigeria, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Congo and Zaire) and totals over 905,000 square miles in area – thereby comprising just about exactly 34% of all African woodland area and 5.5% of *all forest/woodland area on the Earth*. That’s big.
Again, thanks to mass agriculture and other technological development, much of the original rainforest area of Africa is gone. The list of proper jungles on the continent is therefore quite short, but would run something like the following.
The Upper Guinean Forests – In West Africa, just south of the Sahara Desert’s reaches, lie the Upper Guinean Forests. Classified as “tropical moist forest,” the Upper Guinean Forests encompass an entire conservationist-designated region that includes both rainforest and simpler woodland areas. The Upper Guineans run through Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana and Togo.
The Lower Guinean Forests – Separating the Lower Guinean Forests from the Upper is an area geographically called the “Dahomey Gap,” which is composed of woodland and savannah characteristics. Southeastern of this gap are situated the Lower Guineans; these stretch from Benin through Nigeria and into Cameroon.
Mountain forests – Perhaps once directly connected with the Upper Guinean Forests, a few patches of forest in the mountains of Benin, Togo and Guinea still remain.
The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) further subdivides the Upper Guineans into the categories of “Western Guinean lowland forests”, “Eastern Guinean forests” and “Guinean Montane Forests,” but these are more biologically- than geographically-based.
Not nearly enough space here to even preliminarily cover this subject!
How much life – a sizable fraction of which has *never been seen before* by humans – may be found in an African rain forest? A typical estimate reckons that a single, randomly-chosen 4 square mile patch of land contains up to 400 bird, 300 insect and 60 amphibian species – crowded, eh? And we haven’t even gotten to plants.
According to the environmental organization Rainforest Foundation US, tropical rainforests such as the Congo Rainforest “harbor as much as half of all known varieties of plants” – on just 7% of Earth’s total land mass, mind you. Within the aforementioned four square mile plot, figures the Foundation, some 1,500 flowering plant species and 750 distinct tree species may be found. (And again, a fair number of these are heretofore unknown to humans.)
Over 8,000 plant species found within the African rainforests are known; over 13% of these are endemic to Africa. Some statistics place the cataloguing of African jungle plants at just 10% complete, thereby implying some 72,000 unknown species live in African rainforests today.
Jungle-inhabiting plants and flowers are critically important not merely for the sake of scientific cataloging and general human knowledge, but rather for the development of medicine. A rainforest environment may appear to be a nurturing cradle of life – and it is – but the flipside to the possibilities of life’s rampant reproduction and evolution is the balance of predatory death.
In order to compete for space and resources – not to mention to avoid becoming another being’s lunch – rainforest life typically evolves poisons and/or inoculants to protect itself and its species. A species of tree which is susceptible to the poisoning effect of a certain parasite may evolve an antidote to said poison; given the overabundance of life in the rainforest, such adaptation occurs quickly, relatively speaking.
What this means in turn is that astounding numbers of healing chemicals may be found in the world’s rainforests, a fact that has caused the rainforests to be referred to as “Earth’s medicine cabinet.”
This also makes for a swell reason to cease clearing out such land for agricultural, i.e. mostly cattle farming, purposes…
…just play themed online slots instead! Clearly, casino software producers and those who play their slot games remain as enamored as ever with tales of jungle, as evidenced by titles such as:
Heart of the Jungle – In this slot, the accent’s on an adventure story, with a suspiciously white Tarzan and Jane among the higher-paying symbols. This one is a 50-payline 3D slot which is much enjoyed by players thanks to its multiple free spin bonuses.
The Jungle II – The Jungle II is Microgaming branded, but you’d never know it by looking at the thing. Quite a bit like Heart of the Jungle, the graphics in this one are relatively uninteresting and meh, quite honestly. However, the Jungle II slot does contain a couple of huge reasons to play: the possibility of 100 free spins’ worth of bonus round and a top jackpot payout of 10,000x wager.
Jungle Mania – This slot is billed as an “HD” game and the outstanding design certainly benefits from the enhancement. Brilliantly rendered frogs, fish, cheetahs and birds play alongside human priests and odd-looking pyramids not quite Mesoamerican or Egyptian. The Jungle Mania slot is a low-stakes game, and all 25 paylines may be covered for 25¢ to $25 per spin. The scatter-triggered free spins number 10 at 2x bonus multiplier, while landing three bonus symbols enters the player into a high-paying “pick ‘em” video bonus round.
Jungle Jackpots: Mowgli’s Wild Adventure – So we’re stretching things a bit into India, but who can resist a game based on Rudyard Kipling’s story? All the familiar characters are her and offering bonus features including Kaa the Snake's Locking Wilds, Hathi the Elephant's Expanding Wilds and the Baloo Bonus. A single spin can be worth up to 1,000x the payline bet in this nicely low-variance game.
So let us and our partnering online casinos welcome you to the jungle – one that pays rather nicely with a little luck!