When you think of Africa, you think of wild animals. Africa contains some of the world’s most dense population of wildlife and the richest diversity of fauna of any continent on our planet, thanks to its enormous landscape with diverse climates ranging from subarctic to tropical. Africa has a variety of habitats ranging from tropical rainforest, to savanna plains to the arid Sahara Desert, that provides home to a wide variety of wildlife. Widely regarded as the place where human life originated, Africa is home to many of the world's fascinating animals, as well as the endangered.
The continent of Africa has the highest concentration of national parks anywhere on the planet with 335 national parks as of 2014, that protects more than 1,100 species of mammals, 100,000 species of insects, 2,600 species of birds, and 3,000 species of fishes. In addition, there are hundreds of game reserves, forest reserves, marine reserves, national reserves and natural parks.
Serengeti National Park
Zebra migration in Serengeti National Park. Photo credit
The Serengeti National Park in Tanzania is one of the oldest and the best-known wildlife sanctuary in Africa. The park is famous for the annual migration of millions of wildebeests plus hundreds of thousands of gazelles and zebras, followed by their predators, providing one of the most impressive nature spectacles in the world. The Great Migration that follows a 1,000 km long annual circular trek takes place in a unique scenic setting of a vast treeless expanses of spectacularly flat short grasslands dotted with rocky outcrops interspersed with rivers and woodlands. The Park also hosts one of the largest and most diverse large predator-prey interactions worldwide.
The Serengeti National Park covers an area of 12,950 square kilometers and is considered one of the least disturbed natural ecosystem on earth.
Masai Mara National Reserve
The Maasai Mara National Reserve is located in Narok County, Kenya, contiguous with the Serengeti National Park, and named in honor of the Maasai people who inhabit these regions. It is famous for its exceptional population of lions, leopards and cheetahs, and the annual migration of zebra, Thomson's gazelle, and wildebeest to and from the Serengeti every year from July to October, known as the Great Migration.
The Masai Mara reserve is relatively small yet it hosts an amazing concentration of wildlife. The park is home to some 95 species of mammals, amphibians and reptiles and over 400 birds species. The big five (buffalo, elephant, leopard, lion, and rhino) is abound throughout the park as do leopards, cheetah, hyenas, giraffe, impala, wildebeest, topi, baboons, warthogs, buffalo, zebra, elephants, hippos and crocodiles in the Mara River.
An aerial photograph of a herd of Wildebeest following a few leading zebra in Maasai Mara Photo credit
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is located in southwestern Uganda in East Africa. The park comprises 331 square kilometers of jungle forests, and as the name suggests, is accessible only on foot. Located on the eastern edge of the Albertine Rift Valley, the park has a rich ecosystem with possibly the greatest number of tree species for its altitude in East Africa. It is also host to a diverse fauna including a number of endemic butterflies and one of the richest mammalian assemblages in Africa. Bwindi is home to almost half of the world's population of mountain gorillas, which is sadly a mere 340 individual.
A mountain gorilla in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Photo credit
Amboseli National Park
Amboseli National Park is one of the most popular parks in Kenya. Located in the south of the country on the border with Tanzania, it offers one of the most classic and breathtaking view of Mount Kilimanjaro with its 5,985 meter peak dominating over the plains. Amboseli attracts visitors primarily because of its huge herds of elephant, but the park is also home to many predators like lion, cheetah and leopard.
An elephant crosses a dirt road in Amboseli National Park. Mount Kilimanjaro is visible in the background. Photo credit
Kruger National Park
Kruger National Park is one of the largest game reserves in Africa, and one of the largest national parks in the world, with an area of 19,485 square kilometers. It is also South Africa's first national park opened in 1926, although the areas of the park is protected by the government since 1898. Kruger National Park has more species of large mammals than any other African Game Reserve, including the “Big Five” - Lions, Leopards, Elephants, Rhinos, and Buffalos.
Chobe National Park
The Chobe National Park is located in the north-west of Botswana, near the borders to Zambia, Zimbabwe and Namibia and renowned for its spectacular elephant population. It contains an estimated 50,000 elephants, perhaps the highest elephant concentration of Africa, and part of the largest continuous surviving elephant population. The best time to visit Chobe is during the dry season from April to October when the pans dry up and the animals congregate close to the river banks making it easier to spot them.
Baby elephant seen in Serondela, on the banks of the Chobe River, in Chobe National Park. Photo credit
Etosha National Park
Etosha National Park is located in northwestern Namibia. It spans an area of 22,270 square kilometers and gets its name from the large silvery, white Etosha salt pan which covers nearly one-quarter of the Etosha National Park. The park is home to hundreds of species of mammals, birds and reptiles, including several threatened and endangered species such as the black rhinoceros.
The Etosha salt pan covers an area of 4,800 km2 and was formed 16,000 years ago. Photo credit
Central Kalahari Game Reserve
Central Kalahari Game Reserve in the Kalahari desert of Botswana covers an area of 52,800 km², about twice the size of Massachusetts, making it the second largest game reserve in the world. This reserve is characterized by vast open plains, salt pans and ancient riverbeds. The land is mostly flat, and gently undulating covered with bush and grasses covering the sand dunes, and areas of larger trees. The park contains wildlife such as giraffe, brown hyena, warthog, cheetah, wild dog, leopard, lion, blue wildebeest, eland, gemsbok, kudu and red hartebeest.
Bushmen have inhabited the Kalahari for thousands of years and dates back as far as the stone age. These bushman still live here roaming the territories as nomadic hunters.
Bushman of Kalahari. Photo credit
Nechisar National Park
Nechisar National Park is a small park of 514 square km located on an outstandingly scenic part of the Rift Valley floor between two lakes. The park is bounded to the east by Amaro hills that rise to about 2000 m, to the north lie the perennially red waters of Lake Abaya, which at 1,070 km square. To the south is Lake Chamo, a small, clear-watered lake of 350km square. To the east is the town of Arba minch, the headquarter of North Omo Zone. Enclosed by the lake and the Amaro hills are the central plains that, seen from a distance appear white giving rise to the name Nechisar or “white grass”.
Nechisar National Park is considered an important habitat for bird populations particularly those migrating. It has a noted population of kingfishers, storks, pelicans, flamingos and fish eagles.
Ngorongoro Conservation Area
The Ngorongoro Conservation Area is located in the Northwest Tanzania. At its core, is the spectacular Ngorongoro Crater, an old volcano that has collapsed and formed a crater. The steep sides of the crater have become a natural enclosure for a wide variety of wildlife that live here. Beyond the crater rim, the Maasai people herd their cattle across the plains, seemingly oblivious to the herds of wild animals sharing this vast landscape. The area also bears great significance in tracing the origins of human where some of man's earliest remains have been found, including 3.5 million-year old human footprints.
View of Ngorongoro from Inside the Crater. Photo credit
The lake inside Ngorongoro crater. Photo credit