Vocabulary of African Animals

reviewed byNataliia Afonina / more about Editorial Process
Welcome to your language journey!
  • - 01

    Learn through the article!

  • - 02

    Pass a language test

  • - 03

    Check the results

  • - 04

    Subscribe to reach fluency!

girl point on notes

This article provides a detailed vocabulary for various African wildlife. It will help you understand and describe the diverse African animals that inhabit this incredible continent. So, whether you're studying English, planning a safari, or simply intrigued by African biodiversity, here you can learn the names of African animals and their habitats. 
Explore African Animals: English Vocabulary Guide.

The Big Five African Animals

As an English language learner, you'll find it fascinating to explore the vocabulary related to the Big Five African animals. These creatures are celebrated as symbols of Africa's majestic wildlife.

  • Lion: Known as the king of the jungle, is a large cat with a tawny coat, a majestic mane (in males), and a fearsome roar.
  • Elephant: The largest land animal, known for its long, curved tusks, fan-like ears, and unique trunk that functions as both a nose and a hand.
  • Buffalo: Also known as Cape buffalo, is a large, sturdy animal with a broad chest, heavy horns, and a dark-brown or black coat.
  • Leopard: A solitary big cat with a slim, muscular body, known for its golden-yellow coat covered in black spots arranged in rosettes.
  • Rhinoceros: The rhinoceros is a bulky, herbivorous mammal with greyish-brown skin and one or two distinctive horns on its snout.

These terms will help you not only to visualize these iconic animals but also to enrich your English vocabulary related to African wildlife.

Types of African Predators

Continuing your language-learning journey, explore the diverse predatory African animals list. These animals embody the essence of the survival of the fittest in the wild:

  • Cheetah: A slender, fast-running cat with a yellowish coat covered in small black spots.
  • Hyena: A scavenging carnivore with a hunched back, large ears, and a laugh-like vocalization.
  • Crocodile: A large aquatic reptile with a robust body, long jaws filled with sharp teeth, and tough, green-brown, scaled skin.
  • African Wild Dog: A canid species with a patchy coat of brown, black, and white, known for its social behavior and swift hunting skills.
  • Jackal: A small carnivorous mammal resembling a dog, with a bushy tail and reddish-brown or grey coat.
  • Serval: A medium-sized cat with a slim body, large ears, long legs, and a golden-yellow coat covered with black spots and stripes.
  • Caracal: A medium-sized cat characterized by its reddish coat and elongated, tufted black ears.
  • Honey Badger: A small African animal with a thickset body, black coat, and a broad white stripe on its back.
  • Mongoose: A small carnivorous mammal with a slender body, short legs, and a pointed snout, often grey or brown.
  • African Rock Python: A large, powerful snake with a blotchy, brown and olive pattern, known for its constricting hunting method.
  • African Leopard Tortoise: A large tortoise species known for its distinctive leopard-like markings on its shell. It's not a predator in the classic sense, but it is an opportunistic feeder that will consume small invertebrates in addition to its primary diet of plants.
  • Nile Monitor Lizard: A large reptile with a robust body, strong legs, sharp claws, and a long tail, known for its ability to swim and climb.

Adding these words to your vocabulary will offer you a deeper understanding of Africa's predatory animals and their distinctive attributes.

Types of African Primates

Next, immerse yourself in the world of African primates. As you'll discover, these creatures are as diverse in their behaviors as they are in their appearances.

  • Chimpanzee: A highly social primate with a dark coat, expressive face, and capable of using tools.
  • Gorilla: The largest primate, with a strong, bulky body, dark fur, and a characteristic crest on the head (in males).
  • Baboon: A large monkey with a long snout-like muzzle, dog-like teeth, and hairless, bright-colored hindquarters.
  • Mandrill: A colorful monkey with a vibrant blue and red face and a brightly colored hindquarters.
  • Vervet Monkey: A small, agile monkey with a black face, grey fur, and a long tail.
  • Colobus Monkey: A medium-sized monkey with a black coat, contrasting long white fur around the face and part of the tail, and thumb-less hands.
  • Patas Monkey: A long-limbed monkey with a reddish-brown coat and a white underbelly.
  • Bushbaby: A small nocturnal primate with large eyes, long ears, and a soft, woolly coat.
  • Bonobo: A primate similar to a chimpanzee but smaller, with a black coat and a more peaceful, matriarchal society.
  • Guenon: Small to medium-sized monkeys with diverse fur colors and patterns and long tails.
  • Gelada: A grass-eating monkey with a heavy body, a dark face, and a mane of long hair on the chest.
  • Red Colobus: A monkey with reddish fur, a black face, a white tail tuft, and a distinctive call.
  • L'Hoest's Monkey: A monkey with a black coat, white beard, and a preference for terrestrial life.
  • De Brazza's Monkey: A monkey with an orange crescent-shaped marking on the forehead, white muzzle, and greyish fur.
  • Blue Monkey: A monkey with a dark blue-grey coat, a white throat, and a hairless, blue face.

With these new vocabulary words, you've broadened your knowledge about human primate relatives in Africa, deepening your understanding of their diverse characteristics and habits.


African Rare Animals

Expand your English vocabulary by uncovering some of the African rare animals. These fascinating creatures, though less known, add to the rich tapestry of African wildlife.

  • Okapi: A solitary, forest-dwelling ungulate with a dark brown body, striped hindquarters, and legs, resembling both a zebra and a giraffe.
  • Aardvark: A burrowing mammal with a long, pig-like snout, large ears, and a robust tail.
  • Pangolin: A nocturnal mammal known for its unique armor of overlapping scales.
  • African Wild Ass: A sturdy, desert-adapted equid with a light grey coat and a dark stripe along the back.
  • Dama Gazelle: A tall, slender gazelle with a sandy or white coat and curved, ringed horns.
  • Mountain Gorilla: A subspecies of the gorilla, larger in size, with longer hair and shorter arms than its lowland cousin.
  • African Painted Dog: Another name for the African Wild Dog, noted for its uniquely marked, multicolored fur.
  • Ethiopian Wolf: A slender, fox-like wolf with a red coat and a distinctive white marking on the chest.
  • Riverine Rabbit: A nocturnal rabbit with a woolly, grey-brown coat and a black stripe running from the corner of the mouth over the cheek.
  • Black Rhinoceros: A critically endangered species of rhinoceros, notable for its hook-lipped mouth adapted for browsing.
  • Addax: A desert-adapted antelope with long, spiral horns and a white coat that changes color with the seasons.
  • Grevy's Zebra: The largest zebra species with narrow, closely spaced stripes and a white, stripeless belly.
  • Naked Mole-Rat: A small African rodent characterized by its nearly hairless, pink skin and large, protruding teeth.
  • White-Headed Vulture: A striking vulture with a pink beak, white head, and a contrasting dark body.
  • African Penguin: A small penguin with a black back, white underparts, and a horseshoe of black markings on the chest.

These new terms highlight the amazing diversity among African animals, enriching your language skills while raising awareness about the importance of conservation.

Types of African Birds

Dive into the vibrant world of African birds. These species exemplify the remarkable diversity and beauty of Africa's avian life.

  • Ostrich: The world's largest bird, with a long neck, long legs, and large, dark eyes, but unable to fly.
  • Secretary Bird: A tall bird of prey with long legs, a raptor's hooked bill, and distinctive black feathers resembling quill pens behind the head.
  • Hornbill: A bird with a large, curved bill, often with a prominent casque (a hollow structure) on top.
  • Eagle: A large bird of prey with a sharp beak, powerful talons, and excellent eyesight.
  • Falcon: A small to medium-sized bird of prey known for its speed and ability to capture prey in flight.
  • Vulture: A large scavenging bird with a bald head, broad wings, and a keen sense of smell.
  • Guinea Fowl: A ground-dwelling bird with a dark grey or blackish body, speckled with white, and a featherless head.
  • Lilac-Breasted Roller: A colorful bird with a lilac chest, blue belly, and green head.
  • Weaver Bird: A small to medium-sized bird known for its elaborately woven nests.
  • African Fish Eagle: A large bird of prey with a distinctive white head and chest and a powerful yellow beak.
  • Flamingo: A large bird with pink or reddish feathers, long, thin legs, a flexible neck, and a curved beak for filter feeding.
  • Marabou Stork: A large wading bird with a long bill, a bald head, and a pouch-like throat.
  • African Grey Parrot: A medium-sized parrot known for its intelligence and grey feathers with a red tail.
  • Shoebill Stork: A tall bird with a massive, shoe-shaped bill and grey plumage.
  • Yellow-Billed Stork: A large wading bird with white plumage, a yellow bill, and black wings and tail.
  • Turaco: A brightly colored bird with strong legs and a unique red pigment in its feathers.
  • Kingfisher: A small to medium-sized bird with a large head, long, pointed bill, short legs, and brilliant coloration.
  • Sunbird: A small, nectar-feeding bird similar to a hummingbird, often with iridescent feathers.

By adding these terms to your vocabulary, you'll gain a greater appreciation for the vivid world of African birds, each species unique in its own colorful way.

Madagascar Animals

Madagascar is an island in the South of Africa. Although it has very similar flora and fauna as the continent itself, some animals in Madagascar are more widespread than anywhere in Africa. Here is the list of endemic animals of Madagascar:

  • Lemur: A type of primate native to the island of Madagascar. They are characterized by a long, bushy tail, large, reflective eyes, and a small snout. They usually have soft, woolly fur that can be gray, brown, or red. Their eyes are surrounded by patches of dark fur, creating a "mask" effect, and their long tails are often striped.
  • Chameleon: A distinctive and highly specialized group of lizards known for their ability to change their skin color, their elongated tongue mechanism, and their zygodactylous feet. They are primarily found in Africa and Madagascar.
  • Tenrec: A diverse family of mammals that inhabit Madagascar and parts of the African mainland. The appearance of tenrecs varies greatly, depending on the species. Some resemble small hedgehogs with spiny fur, while others may look like small, slender rats or large aquatic otters. They generally have small eyes, a pointed snout, and a tail that can either be long or almost nonexistent.
  • Fossa: The largest predator of Madagascar. They have a slender body that resembles that of a cougar but on a smaller scale, with an equally long tail. They have short, reddish-brown fur, small rounded ears, and large, forward-facing eyes for excellent binocular vision.
  • Tomato Frog: It is endemic to Madagascar and known for its bright red color. They have a plump, rounded body with a large head and prominent eyes. 

And, of course, there are lions, zebras, parrots, and many other African animals in Madagascar. Understanding the list of Madagascar native animals, you can easily define them and be more confident in conversations about African wildlife.

Habitats of African Animals

To wrap up your vocabulary journey, learn about various habitats that house these diverse African animals. Understanding these ecosystems is key to picturing the life of these creatures in the wild.

  • Savannah: A grassland ecosystem with scattered trees and shrubs, hosting a high diversity of wildlife.
  • Rainforest: A dense forest with high annual rainfall, home to numerous species, including primates and birds.
  • Desert: A barren area of land with little rainfall, where only hardy plants and animals can survive.
  • Swamp: A wetland that is forested, often found near large lakes or rivers.
  • Delta: A wetland that forms at the mouth of a river, often supporting a rich variety of birdlife.
  • Mountain: A natural elevation of the earth’s surface, home to specific flora and fauna adapted to high altitudes.
  • Grassland: A large open area of country covered with grass, especially one used for grazing by ungulates.
  • Woodland: An area covered with trees but less dense than a forest, often serving as a transition between savannah and forest.
  • Riverine Forest: A forest that is located along a river, providing a rich ecosystem for various animals and plants.
  • Coastal Dunes: Sandy hills near the coastline, home to many unique species adapted to the harsh, wind-blown environment.

Learning about these habitats will enrich your English vocabulary, providing a better understanding of the diverse environments within Africa and the wildlife they nurture.


This detailed list of African animals and their habitats will help you expand your vocabulary while deepening your understanding of the rich biodiversity in Africa. Keep exploring the wonders of the English language as you dive deeper into the fascinating world of all African animals.

Make your next step to fluency with Promova

African Animals Quiz
Get a review of your skills & track your progress as you improve!
10 min
10 questions
Take test
Try Promova
Learn English with a handy app full of awesome lessons!
General English Vocabulary for AnimalsPets English VocabularyFarm Animals VocabularyWild Animals VocabularyFreshwater Animals VocabularyDelving Into the Language of Deep Sea CreaturesVocabulary Guide to Jungle AnimalsVocabulary Related to Mountain AnimalsVocabulary of Grassland AnimalsVocabulary Related to Taiga AnimalsVocabulary Related to Tundra AnimalsAntarctica Animals Vocabulary GuideNames and Definitions of Animals That Live in the ArcticVocabulary Related to Safari AnimalsZoo Animals VocabularyAmerican Animals VocabularyVocabulary of Asian AnimalsThe Vocabulary of Australian WildlifeJapanese Animals VocabularyTypes of Birds and Their Behaviors


Ava RichardsNov 28th, 2023
Well done! This article not only educated me but also kept me engaged throughout. Looking forward to more content like this