Leopard in a Tree, East Africa

Searching for East Africa’s Most Elusive Animals

East Africa is a land of gorgeous landscapes, warm sunsets, proud people, and unforgettable wildlife. Countries like Kenya and Tanzania are world famous for their majestic animals like the monkey, hyena, leopard, panther, and African elephant. Widely regarded as the place where human life originated, Africa is home to many of the world’s best loved and most fascinating animals, as well as to some of its most endangered. East Africa’s celebrated animals are found in its savanna, montane, and tropical and subtropical forest ecosystems. Whether you’re on an African safari, visiting Victoria Falls, or climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro, spotting African animals in their natural habitat is nothing short of thrilling. Animal nerds and wildlife photographers – keep watch! These elusive East African animals are a real treat to see in the wild.

Leaping Leopard
Leopards are very secretive creatures, and they are exceptionally powerful. Leopards are the strongest climber of the large cats and can kill prey even larger than themselves. Leopards keep a low profile and slink through the grass or bush until they’re close enough to launch an attack. Spotting these sleek creatures in the wild is a rare and exceptional treat.

Leopard Preying on Impalas, Kenya
Leopard preying on impalas

Precious Panther
Lurking in the forests of Mount Kenya and the Aberdares is a surprise… the elusive black panther, a rarely glimpsed version of the leopard. Though spotted leopards are seen across Africa, these gorgeous black versions seem to only exist in this corner of East Africa.

Black Panther, Africa
Black panther

Endangered Wild Dog
In the Serengeti and in Kenya, the wild dog is one of the world’s most endangered mammals. The largest populations remain in southern Africa and the southern part of East Africa (especially Tanzania and northern Mozambique). Wild dogs are social and gather in packs of around ten individuals, but some packs number more than 40.

African Wild Dog Resting in a River Bed in Kruger, South Africa
African wild dog

Speedy Patas Monkey
Patas monkeys are considered the fastest primate on Earth. Their long limbs help them reach top speeds of 55km/h (the best Olympic 100 metre champions can only manage 36-37km/h). These bursts of speed are perfect for this land-based monkey. The Patas monkey’s incredible running is used to evade predators such as lions and hyenas.

Male Patas Monkey, Africa
Male patas monkey

Striped Hyena
The black vertical stripe that characterize these hyenas are more prominent in the summer and less defined in the winter. Striped hyenas live in deserts, scrub forests, woodlands, grasslands, acacia bushlands, rocky terrain, and tropical savannas. Hyena families live in cave dens typically concealed with large boulders.

Black-Striped Hyena
Black-striped hyena

East Africa Oryx
Oryxes are hunted by humans. They’re sought out for their meat and hides, and in many cultures, the horns of the oryx are sought after as charms. In medieval England, oryx horns were marketed as unicorn horns. These majestic gazelle-like creatures are graceful and fascinating to witness in the wild.

Oryx Standing on Yellow Grass, Kenya
East Africa oryx

Black and White Colobus Monkey
Did you know that unlike other monkeys, colobus monkeys do not have thumbs? These black and white monkeys have long beautiful fur, and they used to be hunted for it. There are two types of black-and-white colobus monkeys found in Kenya. One type is found in coastal forests and another in inland, high-country areas. Red colobus monkeys are also found in East Africa but they are very rare. The colobus monkey lives in all types of closed forests, including montane and gallery forests. Bamboo stands are also popular dwelling spots for the colobus.

Black and-White Colobus Monkey, East Africa
Black and white colobus monkey

Why not try and get a glimpse of one of these elusive animals on an East Africa vacation!

Suggested Itineraries:
8-Day Essential Kenya Super Special
7-Day Migration Safari
14-Day East Africa Safari Super Special

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Kirsty Perring
Kirsty Perring

Africa Experts Product Manager – Although British born and now Toronto based, Kirsty grew up in South Africa and is completely passionate about all things Africa. She finds it hard to choose a favourite destination, but lists Zimbabwe, Zambia, Mozambique, and Botswana as some of the most special places she has visited, and feels it’s not just about where you go and what you see, but who you get to experience it with. Kirsty is always up for an adventure and will try anything once. As such, she has para-glided in South Africa, zip lined in Mauritius, dived the Red Sea, hot air ballooned in Egypt, and even swam in the Okavango Delta. Next on Kirsty’s bucket list is to climb Kilimanjaro!

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