The African Jungle, sometimes referred to as the Congo Basin, is the world’s second-largest rainforest, covering nearly 2 million square miles and home to over 10,000 unique species of plants and animals.
A beautiful sight to behold, it offers a magical atmosphere, unique endangered species, vibrant greenery, and tall trees that make it an unforgettable experience for any traveler seeking to connect with nature and its true beauty.
In this article, we’ll explore some of the most endangered species that live in the African Jungle, where to see them, how to plan for a trip there, and how to effectively protect yourself if you face a dangerous animal.
- Cross River Gorilla
If you’re lucky enough to spot the Cross River Gorilla on your travels, you’ll be seeing one of the rarest animals on earth.
With only around 300 individuals remaining, these gorillas are found in Nigeria and Cameroon’s mountainous regions.
When hiking through these areas though, be sure to keep a safe distance from these magnificent creatures and follow local guides’ rules to avoid disturbing their habitat.
Gorillas are generally peaceful unless provoked, but if you face a dangerous situation with a gorilla try to stay calm, crouch and remain as unreactive as possible.
The bonobo is one of our closest relatives in the animal kingdom, sharing 99% of our DNA.
Found only in the areas surrounding the Congo River, these gentle primates are endangered due to habitat loss and hunting, with only 15,000 individuals left.
When not searching for food, Bonobos are often found resting in the upper part of a tree or playing with their younglings. If you’re a traveler interested in seeing our closest animal relatives in their habitat, visit a bonobo sanctuary in Congo to learn more about their unique behavior and the conservation efforts being done to protect them.
- African Forest Elephant
The African Forest Elephant is one of the two subspecies of African elephants and can only be found in the jungles of West and Central Africa. They have straighter tusks than savannah elephants and are smaller in size.
Unfortunately, their population is shrinking due to the ivory trade and deforestation, which has narrowed them down to a decreasing population of 100,000 elephants in the wild.
To catch a glimpse of these majestic creatures in their natural habitat, consider planning a hike through the jungles of Gabon or Cameroon where these elephants roam.
- Congo Bay Owl
If you’re on the hunt for another unique and elusive creature during your travels, then the Congo Bay Owl should be on your list. This magnificent bird has a striking appearance with its heart-shaped face and dark brown feathers, making it a must-see for any bird-watching enthusiast.
Primarily found in the Congo Basin region, they feed on small mammals and insects. To catch a glimpse of this fascinating creature, it’s important to plan your trip accordingly. They’re most active at night, so be sure to bring your binoculars and flashlight.
Unfortunately, Congo Bay Owls are currently an endangered species with as few as 1,000 individuals left in the wild. Habitat loss and degradation, along with hunting and trapping for the illegal wildlife trade, are the main threats to their survival.
- The Okapi
Spotting an Okapi in the wild is a rare and unforgettable experience. The Okapi is a unique-looking forest giraffe that looks like a cross between a giraffe and a zebra, found only in the dense rainforests of Congo.
If you want to see one of them on your trip, consider camping in spots such as the Ituri Forest Reserve or the Okapi Wildlife Reserve to increase your chances of spotting them.
Make sure to pack for a camping trip adequately and be prepared for the humid climate of the jungle.
- Red Colobus Monkey
The Red Colobus Monkey is a rare primate found in the forests of Central and Western Africa. It’s known for its stunning red fur and unique eating habits, as its stomach allows it to ferment food in its gut, absorb tough plant matter, and even digest toxic plants.
Interestingly, chimpanzees are known to eat red colobus monkeys. While chimpanzees are mainly herbivores, they occasionally hunt and eat these small animals for food.
Aside from predators, the red colobus monkey faces the threat of extinction due to illegal hunting and habitat loss, which is why they’re classified as endangered with less than 20,000 individuals left in the wild.
- Giant Pangolin
The giant pangolin, the largest of pangolin species, is another unique and fascinating creature found in the forests and grasslands of West and Central Africa. Growing up to 1.8 meters in length and covered in large, overlapping scales, this incredible animal is a sight to behold.
Dubbed ‘the world’s most trafficked animal’, the giant pangolin is endangered due to habitat loss and the illicit trade of its meat, considered a delicacy in some parts of the world, and its scales, which are used in traditional medicine in Asia.
If you’re an adventurous traveler who wants to spot the giant pangolin, a trip to the African jungle might be in order. Bring along enticing bait such as ants or termites to attract giant pangolins, and hike near a body of water in the jungle for the best chances of spotting them.
- Roloway Monkey
The Roloway Monkey, a primate species native to West Africa, is another endangered animal that is worth seeing in its natural habitat. In the wild, you’ll recognize a Roloway Monkey by its black fur, white beard, and forehead crest.
Unfortunately, the Roloway Monkey does not only face threats from a variety of predators including leopards and eagles, but also faces the critical threat of extinction, with only an estimated 2,000 individuals left.
If you’re looking to spot Roloway monkeys, the jungles of Ghana, Ivory Coast, and Togo are some of the best places to see these playful creatures. In these areas, they are mostly found in the upper parts of the trees in the rainforests. Visit during the dry season (June – September) when it’s easier to navigate the jungle for the best chances of spotting these wild creatures.
- The African Grey Parrot
The African Grey Parrot is one of the most intelligent bird species, found only in the dense forests of West and Central Africa. They are medium-sized birds, with smooth grey feathers and a distinctive red tail, and are known for their exceptional mimicking abilities.
In fact, a study on African grey parrots showed that they’re able to memorize hundreds of words, answer questions, and use tools to fetch food from hard-to-reach places. This has made them a favored pet among many.
However, if you’re considering getting an African Grey Parrot as a pet, keep in mind that it’s a highly social animal that requires a lot of physical and mental stimulation. So, make sure you’re capable of adjusting to their needs.
Safety in the African Jungle
The African Jungle is a beautiful natural habitat, but it can also be a challenging environment to explore for inexperienced travelers.
It is important to bring proper gear, such as sturdy shoes, insect repellent, and medication, and follow local guides’ tips to ensure your safety and well-being during your travels.
Moreover, it’s a vital natural habitat for various endangered species. From the unique Okapi to the rare Congo Bay Owl and the intelligent African Grey Parrot, these animals play a crucial role in the jungle’s ecosystem and must be protected.
Don’t miss out on the incredible opportunity to witness the beauty of the African jungle and make a difference in the lives of endangered animals by supporting local conservation efforts and practicing responsible tourism practices on your trip.