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Wild African Animals in the Omo Valley

Africa has the largest selection of wild exotic animals and Ethiopia's Omo Valley is home to many species.  The national parks located in the lower part of the valley are virtually free of civilization making it possible for the hundreds of birds, reptiles, fish and mammals to live there.  Below we have listed just a few of the amazing animals that can be found in southern Ethiopia and northern Kenya.

African or Cape Buffalo

The buffalo stands about 5 1/2 feet tall and is about 11 feet long.  It can weigh anywhere from 1,000 to 2,000 pounds.  They are herbivores and graze in tall coarse grass.  Traveling in herds, they have few predators.  It can take multiple lions to kill a full grown buffalo and only young calves fall victim to cheetahs, crocodile, leopards and hyenas.  The animal is known to be very aggressive and will attack humans and predators if feel threatened.

African or Cape Buffalo in Omo Valley, Ethiopia


The Eland is the world's largest antelope.  It stands about 5 to 6 feet tall and can weigh around 1500 lbs.  Even at it's size, they can jump up to 8 feet from a standstill position.  Their horns can grow up to 4 feet long.  Like the buffalo, they are herbivores and prefer to eat leaves, fruits and roots.  They travel in herds and their main predator are humans.

Humans have attempted to domesticate the Elands due to their tender meat and high protein content in the milk they produce.

Elands in Southern Ethiopia

Nile Crocodile

Measuring between 11 and 16 feet long and weighing 500 to 700 lbs, it is the largest crocodilian in Africa.  Crocodiles are carnivores and often prey on waterbuck, wildebeest, zebra, goats and cattle.  Although its rare, crocodiles will try to capture much larger prey like the buffalo, hippo or rhinoceros.  When not hunting mammals, they will eat fish.

Human hunters are the crocodiles only predator.  The Nile crocodile will attack a human and is said to kill several hundred people a year.

Nile Crocodile in the Omo River


Giraffes are the tallest land living animals.  Their weight can range from 1,800 lbs to 4,000 lbs and can reach heights up to 20 feet.  Giraffes are herbivores and are found in the savannas, grasslands or woodlands.  Their diet consist of twigs, grass, and fruit.  They consume large amounts of water if available and can sustain dry arid areas.

The only major predator that threatens the giraffe are lions.  Their defense is a strong kick that can kill its attacker.

Giraffe in the Lower Omo Valley


There are two types of kudu that can be found in the lower Omo Valley.  The greater and lesser kudu are both cousins.

The greater kudu is a woodland and brush land antelope.  The males are much larger then the females and have large horns that twist.  Their horns can reach up to 3 feet in length.  A male greater kudu can weigh between 400 and 600 lbs, while the females weigh between 250 and 450 lbs.

The lesser kudu is a forest and thicket antelope.  They are much smaller then the greater kudu.  The males weigh between 150 to 220 lbs and the females weighing in at 120 to 150 lbs.  The male lesser kudu's horns reach about 2 feet in length.

Both species are herbivores and their diet consists of leaves and plants.  They are both hunted by lions, leopards, cheetahs and humans.

Greater Kudu in Southern Ethiopia

Lesser Kudu in Omo Valley


The Burchells zebra is also known as the plains or common zebra.  It can be found in the savannas, woodlands or grasslands.  They are herbivores and graze on different grasses as well as certain shoots.  Both the male and female stand about 4 1/2 feet tall and are about 8 feet long.  They can weigh between 400 and 700 lbs.

The zebras main predators are lions, hyenas and the Nile crocodile.  Zebras are best known for their unique black and white stripes.

Plains or Burchells Zebra

Zebra in the Lower Omo Valley


Also known as the hippo, it is the third largest land animal.  They are estimated to weigh between 3,000 and 7,000 lbs.  The hippo stands about 5 feet tall and can reach lengths up to 17 feet.  It can live in water or on land and is able to walk on the bottom of rivers.  The water and mud from the river keeps the hippo's body cool.

Even with it's massive size, they are able to run up to 30 mph for short distances.  They are known to be very aggressive towards humans and Nile crocodiles.  Some say the hippo is one of the most dangerous animals in Africa.  They are herbivores and graze on grass.  Their only predators are humans, but crocodiles have been known to attack their young.

Hippo in Lake Chamo, Ethiopia


There are two species of rhinos in Africa.  The white or squared lipped rhino lives in the savannas enjoying water and mud holes.  It is the larger of the two weighing between 7,000 and 10,000 pounds.  It stands approximately 6 feet and is between 11 to 15 foot long. They have a flat square mouth.

The black rhino can vary between habitats, but mainly likes dense wooded vegetation.  It weighs between 2,000 and 3,500 pounds.  They are between 11 and 13 ft. in length and stand about 5 feet tall.  It has a pointed mouth and is much smaller then the white rhino.

Both rhinoceros are herbivores.  The white rhino enjoys grazing while the black rhino prefers leafs and twigs.  They have very few predators, but fall victim to poachers.

The Black Rhinoceros or Rhino in Ethiopia


The Thomson's Gazelle is the most common in Africa.  They are found in open plains and grassland areas.  It stands 2 to 3 feet tall and weighs between 30 and 100 pounds.  They travel in herds and can reach speeds up to 40 mph.  The gazelle is a herbivore and eats mostly grasses. It is preyed upon by cheetahs, lions, leopards, crocodiles and hyenas.

Thomson's Gazelle in Omo Valley

African Elephants

These elephants are the largest land animal in the world.  A male African elephant can stand 13 feet tall and weigh as much as 15,000 lbs.  The females can weigh between 8,000 and 10,000 pounds.  Their tusk are teeth and are used for digging, scrapping bark and fighting.  A single tusk can weigh between 50 and 100 lbs and be 8 feet long.  The trunk is a long nose and is used for breathing, drinking, smelling and grabbing.

Elephants are herbivores and eat mostly roots, grasses, fruit and bark from trees.  They can consume up to 300 lbs of food in a day.  Poachers are the elephants only predator.  They are killed for their ivory tusk which is very valuable.  The trading or selling of elephant tusk is illegal.

Male African Elephant in Ethiopia, Omo National Park 


The Lion is the second largest big cat out of four.  The largest being the tiger.  Lions are found in the savannas and grasslands.  They typically live and travel in groups or prides.  A pride may include up to 30 lions.  They can reach 4 to 7 feet in length and weigh between 250 and 550 lbs.

A lion's mane is the most unique among other large cats.  Lions are carnivores and work in groups to attack their prey.  They can reach speeds of 50 mph and may hunt alone if afforded the opportunity.  Their prey consist of antelopes, buffalo, wildebeest, zebras and many more.  They may also steal kill from other animals such as the hyena.

The population of lions are significantly decreasing.  It is not completely understood why, but loss of habitat and human conflicts are their most significant threats.

Male Lion in Ethiopia's Omo Valley

Lioness in the Lower Omo Valley

African Monkeys

Blue Monkey: The blue monkey can be found in the Great Rift Valley.  They are 1 to 2 feet tall and weigh about 17 pounds.  They are found in the forest canopy.  It's diet mainly consists of fruit and leaves.  It is hunted by humans for bush meat and suffers from loss of habitat.

Colobus Monkey: The black & white colobus monkey is mainly found in Kenya.  They are about 2 1/2 feet tall and weigh between 15 and 30 lbs.  There is also a red colobus monkey, but is very rare.  These monkeys usually stay in the trees, very seldom coming down to the ground.  They are found in forest areas and usually live in groups.  Their diets consist of leaves making them herbivores.

They are preyed upon by many animals, but have been pushed to extinction in some areas by humans and lost of habitat.  They are killed by poachers for their fur and bush meat.

Patas Monkey: This monkey is also known as the Wadi or Hussar.  It spends most of it's time ground-dwelling and is about 3 feet tall.  It is found in savannas and dry areas.  It is considered the fastest runner of its kind, reaching speeds of 35 mph.  Its diet consists of insects and seeds.

A Blue Monkey in the Great Rift Valley

The Colobus Monkey in Kenya

Patas Monkey in Africa


These primates are ground dwellers and can adapt to many environments.  Their main requirement for survival is a water source and safe retreat.  The olive baboon and yellow baboon are two different species found in Kenya.

They are usually found in the savannas and woodlands and are omnivorous.  Their diet can may include, grass, leaves, seeds, berries, fish, shellfish, birds and even small antelopes.  They stand between 1 1/2 and 2 1/2 feet tall weighing between 50 and 100 lbs.  Humans kill them because they can be agricultural pests, but other predators are the leopards and cheetahs.

A Common Baboon in Africa


These carnivores are large, elusive and strong climbers.  Their habitat includes dense brush and forest but they can adapt to many environments.  Leopards are manly nocturnal and spend most of their day sleeping.  They are great hunters and prey on a range of wildlife.  Some of their diet consists of antelopes, monkeys, baboons, rodents and fish.

The leopard stands about 2 feet tall and can weigh up to 150 pounds.  Their predator is the human and are hunted for their fur, tails and claws.

The African Leopard


They are the largest living bird species.  It is a flightless bird and lays the largest eggs of any other birds.  They can stand between 6 and 9 feet tall and weigh up to 360 lbs.  They eat mostly plants, but will consume insects as well.

The ostrich is farmed around the world for its feathers, skin, and meat.  It only has two toes on its feet, but can run up to 45 mph.  As a defensive tactic it will kicks its legs.  The pressure from the kick is so strong that it can kill a grown human.

An Ostrich in Africa


This cat is known to sprint up to 70 mph.  It is the world's fastest land animal.  Cheetahs are found in the savannas and live a solitary life.  They have become extinct in many areas due to changing habitat.

Their diet consists of Thomson's gazelles and impalas.  They stand just over 2 feet tall and weigh between 100 and 150 lbs.  They are preyed on by lions, leopards, hyenas and eagles.

Wild African Cheetah after a hunt


The Tiang is a subspecies of the Topi.  It is an antelope and is found in the savannas, flood plains, and semi-deserts.  They travel in herds and are grazers. They stand a little over 4 feet and reach weights up to 270 lbs. They are hunted by lions, leopards, cheetahs and hyenas.

An African Tiang walking in the Wild


There are two types of oryx in Africa, the beisa and the fringe-eared oryx. The beisa is found in Ethiopia and northern Kenya and the fringe-eared is primarily found in Kenya.

They are both large antelopes and have long pointed horns. They are found in the dry arid regions.  Like other antelope, they are grazers and their diet is made up of coarse grass or shrubs.

Standing about 4 feet tall, the oryx can weigh between 250 and 400 pounds.  Their predators are the lions, hyenas and wild dogs.  Tribesmen also hunt the oryx for its meat and hide.

An Oryx in Southern Africa