Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Animals of Africa

I've picked six animals of Africa for children to become familiar with, but there are many more African animals that children can learn about through books, the zoo or online.
You can use the sets of pictures for a matching game.
You could also match pictures with sounds.
Teach vocabulary.
Older children can read the facts to see what they understand and maybe become interested in some of these fascinating animals.

Click here to download the folder containing all the files.
It includes the picture sets, sound files, a large picture map of Africa and a Microsoft Word document with all the facts I've written here.

African Elephant

    • The African Elephant is the largest living land animal. African elephants are larger than the Asian Elephant.


    • They live in large close families led by a female.


    • Female elephants are called cows and males are called bulls.


    • They are excellent swimmers.


    • They have few natural enemies besides humans and are an endangered species. They have been hunted by humans for their ivory tusks.


    • Both males and females have tusks.


    • They have wrinkled, gray-brown skin that is almost hairless.


    • Their ears are large; about five feet across and are shaped like the continent of Africa.


  • The trunk is an extension of the nose. They can use it to drink water or eat food. To get water, the elephant sucks water into the trunk, then curls the trunk towards the mouth and squirts the water into it. The trunk has two prehensile (grasping) extensions at the tip, which it uses like a hand.

Elephants eat roots, grasses, leaves, fruit, and bark.
An elephant can trumpet, snort, bark and roar.
Elephants can call each other by making rumbling sounds so low that humans can’t hear them.
Article about elephant sounds
Kids won’t understand that article, but I included it if any of you might be interested in learning about the many sounds and calls that elephants can make.


    • Giraffes are the tallest land animal reaching up to 19 feet (6 m) tall and can weigh up to 2,800 pounds (1270kg).


    • Patterns: Most have brown polygons on a cream/tan background. The polygons are larger on the body and smaller on the face and limbs.


    • Both males and females have two short horns.


  • Giraffes live in the African grasslands also called savannas.

Herbivores (plant-eaters) Eating mostly leaves, twigs and bark.
Giraffes are quiet animals, but they can make a bleating sound like a sheep or a loud grunt or roar if they feel threatened. I searched online, but couldn’t find these particular sounds. However, I found sounds of giraffes walking around and munching on plants.


    • The Hippopotamus is a large mammal from swampy areas, lakes, and rivers in sub-Saharan Africa (south of the Sahara desert).


    • It is semi-aquatic, spending much of its time in the water.


    • They can open their mouth up to four feet wide and weigh up to 10,000 pounds.


    • Hippopotamus means "river horse" in Greek.


    • They are nocturnal (active at night).


  • Hippos spend the day resting and cooling off in shallow water, emerging from the water at night to graze on grass.

Hippos are herbivores (plant-eaters).
Hippos make many growling and grunting sounds.
Click here to hear a hippo grunting and moving around in the water.
Here’s my favorite hippo sound.


    • A group of lions is called a pride.


    • There can be up to 25 lions in one group.


    • Lions live in grassy plains (savannas) in Africa and some live in India.


  • Lions are nocturnal which means they are active at night.

Carnivore (meat eaters) they hunt and eat large animals.
Click here to hear a powerful roar.


    • Meerkats are small, burrowing mammals that live on the plains of southern Africa.


    • They are a type of mongoose.


    • Meerkats live in groups of up to 25 animals (called a "mob" or "gang").


    • They are fiercely territorial and usually stay very close to their underground burrows, where they live.


    • One meerkat will stand watch in order to warn the group with a shrill cry when a dangerous predator approaches.


    • Hawks, eagles and jackals hunt meerkats


  • Meerkats frequently sit or stand on their hind legs in an upright position to watch what’s going on around them, using their tail as a third leg.

: Meerkats are primarily insectivores (insect-eaters). They scratch into the ground
For insects and insect larvae to eat. They also eat other small animals (like lizards
and mice) and some plants.
Meerkats make many sounds including alarm calls, growls and chattering. I couldn’t find any meerkat sound clips online so I’ve taken a clip from the popular TV show, “Meerkat Manor”.
Click here to hear what they sound like.


    • Zebras live in African grassy plains (savannas).


    • They are closely related to horses and donkeys.


    • They live in families or large herds.


    • Females lead the group while males watch the back of the group to protect them from other animals.


  • Zebra fur has distinctive white stripes on a black background. No two zebras have
    the same pattern.

Zebra's are herbivores and spend a lot of time eating grass and need to drink a lot of water.
Since zebras are related to horses, they make the same galloping sound when they walk.
I also found a zebra sound that sounds like barking.


    • Carnivore: Meat eater.


    • Endangered species: Means there are very few left alive.


    • Herbivore: Plant eater.


    • Insectivore: Insect eater.


    • Nocturnal: Active at night.


    • Pride: Group of lions.


    • Savanna: Grassland.


    Semi-aquatic: To spend part of the time in the water.

I hope you've enjoyed this post.
Soon, I will be posting more activities dealing with African animals and their habitats.
Most facts were found from:

All images were found on Google Images and are clipart.

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