When we think about Africa’s wildlife, we often imagine majestic animals such as elephants, lions, and giraffes roaming the vast landscapes. However, let’s shift our attention to the captivating creatures that steal the spotlight among the acacia trees and vast savannahs of Africa – the animals with horns.
With over 1,100 mammal species inhabiting Africa’s diverse ecosystems, let’s take a look at some of them that have these characteristics and learn more about them.
14 Animals with horns in Africa
1. Greater kudu
Scientific Name: Tragelaphus strepsiceros
Among the animals you’ll see in Africa with magnificent horns are Greater Kudus, which have two and a half twists that are about 47 inches long. These animals prefer to live in habitats that provide good cover.
However, during the rainy season, you might come across them along river banks that are abundant with lush vegetation. Greater kudus are tall antelopes that can reach a maximum height of 63 inches, and only males have horns on their heads.
2. African buffalo
Scientific Name: Syncerus caffer
The African buffalo is one of the creatures with horns easily recognizable throughout Africa. These animals, which you can find in any environment with access to both water and grass, have massive horns and a stocky build.
You can also notice that they form two types of herds. One is a large herd that includes buffalos of all ages and sexes, typically gathered for mating purposes, while the other is a smaller herd consisting solely of males.
Scientific Name: Connochaetes taurinus
The blue wildebeest is a large antelope inhabiting the plains and savannahs of eastern and southern Africa, from Kenya to eastern Namibia, and feeding primarily on grasses. Usually, the females of these species have a lighter color and are smaller than the males, but both genders possess horns that can grow up to 33 inches long. Typically, you’ll find these animals near water and food sources.
4. Scimitar-horned oryx
Scientific Name: Oryx dammah
In the desert to semidesert region of Africa, also known as the “Great Steppe,” you can come across the scimitar-horned oryx. These animals are highly social and live in herds, which are led by a dominant bull.
It’s quite common to spot them resting under trees and shrubs during the peaceful early mornings and evenings. Fights are also frequent among these individuals, though most of the time, the fights aren’t particularly violent.
Scientific Name: Aepyceros melampus
From northeast South Africa to Angola, south Zaire, Rwanda, Uganda, and Kenya, you can find the impala in woodland areas with little undergrowth. Only the males have horns, which they use to compete with other males of their species. These slender horns, shaped like a lyre, can grow up to 36 inches. Additionally, impalas live in herds containing up to one hundred individuals.
Scientific Name: Antidorcas marsupialis
The springbok, with its slender build and long legs, thrives in the vast expanses of treeless savannas. People often confuse these species with gazelles, but one way to tell them apart is by looking at their horn structures.
The Springboks grow their horns upwards and curve inwards, while the gazelles grow their horns upwards and slightly curl backward. These animals can leap up to 11 feet when threatened to distract their predators.
7. Cuvier’s gazelle
Scientific Name: Gazelle cuvier
Cuvier’s gazelle is the darkest gazelle species, and you can find it in Algeria, Morocco, Western Sahara, and Tunisia. The coloration of this animal is likely an adaptation to its partial woodland habitat, specifically the Atlas Mountains in Northwestern Africa. They emerge to graze in the early morning and late evening, but in the afternoon, they return to find a cool spot to spend the day.
Scientific Name: Damaliscus pygargus phillipsi
The blesbok, recognizable by its white face and forehead, is an antelope that’s native to South Africa, Eswatini, and Namibia. You can find this species in all national parks that have open grasslands, ranging from the Highveld north of the Vaal River and extending southwards through the Free State to the Eastern Cape. These creatures have short tails, and both males and females possess horns, although the horns in females are slightly more slender.
9. Giant eland
Scientific Name: Taurotragus derbianus
The open forests and vast savannas of Africa are where you can encounter the giant eland. The largest antelope species is known for its impressive stature, standing tall at up to 6 feet and weighing over 2,000 pounds. You can easily spot them thanks to their long tails, distinctive V-shaped spiral horns, and their reddish-brown to chestnut-colored coat accented with white lines on the sides.
Additionally, as the males age, their coats gradually darken. Mature males typically prefer to be solitary, but they join with females during the mating season, using their magnificent horns to establish their position in the hierarchy.
10. Royal antelope
Scientific Name: Neotragus pygmaeus
In Africa, you can find an interesting creature known as the royal antelope, which happens to be the world’s smallest antelope. These small species stand at a mere 10 inches at the shoulder and weigh up to 6 lbs. They have short, smooth, and spiky horns that grow to a maximum length of only 1.18 inches.
Even though they’re nocturnal, you might see them munching on foliage during the day. It lives in the warm, humid lowland forests that are common in countries like Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone in western Africa.
Scientific Name: Alcelaphus buselaphus
When you explore the dry savannas and wooded grasslands of Africa, you’ll have the chance to spot hartebeest, one of the animals that display horns. These creatures live in organized herds of up to 300 individuals and can grow up to 3 ft in height.
They also have thin legs that enable them to escape from predators in their open habitats effortlessly. In case of any threat, they rely on their uniquely shaped horns to engage in battle and intimidate their predators.
Scientific Name: Tragelaphus eurycerus
You might come across nocturnal animals with long spiraled horns and white and yellow stripes on their bodies in Africa called bongos. Because of these stripes, they can effectively blend into themselves in their natural environments, which include bamboo forests and disturbed forest mosaics. Unlike other antelopes, these creatures aren’t territorial, as more than one male can be seen in every herd of up to 50 individuals.
Scientific Name: Tragelaphus angasii
In Africa, you might come across another creature with horns – the Nyala. This antelope, native to the continent’s southern regions, boasts a spiral horn, males and females have different appearances that set them apart.
The males have a grayish coat with a bluish tinge, while the females display a brownish coat decorated with ten or more white vertical stripes on their sides. You’ll often spot them gathered in groups of two to 30 individuals near a feeding site or water source, allowing them to defend and warn each other when a predator approaches.
14. Common duiker
Scientific Name: Sylvicapra grimmia
You can find the common duiker species all across Africa, specifically in regions south of the Sahara. They typically inhabit savannahs and hilly areas, where vegetation is abundant for them to seek shelter and camouflage themselves.
You’ll notice them staying active all day, but when it gets warm, they might hide in their cozy resting spots. These animals’ color varies depending on where they live. However, females generally tend to be larger than males and weigh an additional 4.4 to 8.8 lbs.