The subject matter “Animals in Africa” is about as vast as the continent itself, which serves as home for innumerable unique endemic species spanning a wide range of diversity from the driver ants (or dorylus) which can travel in phalanxes of 20 million at a time to the pygmy chimpanzees inhabiting the Congo Rainforest to the towering giraffes roaming the savannah. So we’ll limit ourselves to a pair of the most impressive beasts ever to roam Afria, the rhinoceros and the lion.
Five distinct species of rhinoceros have been recognized: the white, black, Indian, Javan and Sumatran. As the name indicates, just two of these are native to Africa, and this number will assuredly drop to one in the very near future. This group of five species represents a massive culling from a period about 30 million years ago, when dozens of species may have roamed the Eastern Hemisphere, most as tall as five meters (about 16’5”) – and you thought modern-day rhinos were gargantuan!
Literally by the time you read this, the white rhino as a species may be extinct and was officially declared extinct in the wild by wildlife officials in 2008. As of November 2015, just three of these animals survive in captivity, with the sole male now closing in on his mid-40s; the lifespan of the average white rhino tops off at about 50 years. The San Diego Zoo is attempting a breeding program using members of the Southern White Rhino subspecies, of which 20,000 to 21,000 exist in the wild, but by all reports are not optimistic about reviving the white rhino.
Neither variety of white rhino, contrary to popular belief, is actually white, and instead may be named for a misappropriation of a Swahili word meaning “wide.” The typical white rhino can grow to up to about 1.8 meters (about 5’11”) and tips the scales at about 3,000 kilograms (6,600 pounds). These beasts are characterized by their square bottom lip and are sometimes known as the “square-lipped rhino.”
Back in 1989 when hundreds of Northern White Rhinos still roamed Africa, the late great writer Douglas Adams described an encounter with such an animal thusly: “We watched quietly for three or four minutes, and even the sound of our cameras ceased to bother the animal. ... For the rhino, the sight of us was simply a clue that there was something he should sniff for, and he began to sniff the air more carefully ... At that moment the wind began to move around and gave us away completely. The rhino snapped to attention, turned away from us, and hurtled off across the plain like a nimble young tank.”
The black rhino, meanwhile, is making a healthy comeback against poachers who find them particularly profitable “thanks” to its double horn: From a nadir of just 2,400 in 1992, the black rhino population was up to over 5,400 by 2016.
Aside from the two horns, the black variety of rhino differs from its white counterpart in its smaller size, with the weight of an average female peaking at “just” 900 kilos (right around 2,000 pounds) and the hooked lip which allows for eating vegetation above ground level. As with its “white” counterpart, the “black” in “black rhino” is a misnomer; each is as gray as the other.
Three subspecies of the black rhino – the Southern Central, Eastern, and South Western – still exist, while the Western black rhino was officially declared extinct in 2011. All subspecies inhabit a great part of the continent, occupying areas in southern and eastern Africa including parts of Kenya, Namibia, Tanzania, South Africa and Zimbabwe.
Seriously, is any animal scarier than a lion? Just imagine a sleek beast that’s well faster than you, that can hear and see you before you’re aware, that’s 550 pounds of pure muscle and is armed with teeth shaped through millions of years of evolution to carve up animal flesh. Your flesh, which is among its favorite foods, which might best be described as anything made of meat.
Taking things a bit more scientifically, the lion is one of the biggest of all feline species and its territory as late as 15,000 years ago spread to nearly every continent. That space has naturally shrunk in parallel with the growth of human civilization and today the two distinct species, the African and Asiatic, inhabit a part of their respective continents.
The commonly-known lion – sometimes specifically referred to as the “African lion” – needs no introduction, as this iconic creature has emblazoned human illustrations of all sort since cave painting was a popular medium. For centuries, the regal one has served as symbol for royalty and movie studios in lands where they hadn’t been seen outside an exhibition for millennia. Among the half-dozen or so subspecies of African lion is one extinct animal and one just labeled critically endangered in 2015.
Said subspecies are regarded somewhat skeptically by many zoologists, as the variance between any given two proposed subspecies is minimal at best. The recently-created categorization of “Ethiopian Lion,” for example, is defined by generally darker manes and direct a bloodline originating in the animals from King Haile Selassie’s private collection.
Other lion subspecies may be generally defined by their habitat: These include the Masai Lion (of Eastern Africa), the Congo Lion, the Southwest African Lion, the Transvaal Lion (of the Transvaal region in Southern Africa), the critically endangered Western African Lion and the now-extinct Barbary Lion (of Saharan Africa).
And not a single one of them need come equipped with a “Do Not Touch” warning. Beautiful, graceful and iconic these animals may be, but, whoa, perhaps it’s best to live a few continents away from the nearest one…
Since this *is* ostensibly a website devoted to slots gaming, we’ll recommend a few of our favorite games themed along the lines of Africa’s most fantastic beasts.
Raging Rhino – Whoa, this one’s as huge as its main character. With six reels of four rows each and wins paying both ways, a whopping 4,096 paylines are in play; you’ll pay for 40. Joining the rhino on the reels in making up the high-paying characters are chimpanzees, leopards and alligators – plus a sumptuous and very realistic-sounding soundtrack. Highest possible win on a single spin is some $12,000. Play Raging Rhino slot on our site for free.
50 Lions – Set in the African savannah, lions join zebras, giraffes and such on this quick-playing and fun online slot. Three scatter symbols (the desert rose icon) launch to unique and lucrative bonus round of 10 free spins. On every free spin, the player receives one more wild per spin, racking up some nice wins along the way. 50 Lions slot is a popular game and you can play it free on our site.
Lion’s Roar – The Lion’s Roar online slot from Rival Gaming is the typical high-quality graphics, easy-play game representative of this software designer. As is the usual, three scatters win the player 10, 20 or 50 free spins at 2x bonus multiplier, with the wilds (who else but the title character?) becoming expanding wilds. During the free spins round, a second scatter is added to the reels which may award three to 15 spins-within-the-free-spins, this time with expanding wilds carrying a 5x multiplier. Roar, indeed.
Try these and other games set in Africa at any of our recommended online casinos to be found right here on our pages!
Find out more about African animals at African Wildlife Foundation.