The world is filled with incredible animals, from the humble squirrel to the majestic elephant. Every country has its fair share of amazing wildlife – kangaroos in Australia, bison in the United States and even the Scottish Wildcat in the UK – and while Africa’s animals are perhaps the most famous (elephants, lions and zebras, oh my!), not enough credit is given to the species present in other countries. Here are just a few places – some well-known, others a little under the radar – where you might be lucky enough to spot an animal or four.
Democratic Republic of the Congo
Did you know that you’ll find the world’s second-largest tropical rainforest in the Congo? The lush, fertile Congo Basin is teeming with wildlife, and though the majority of the forest is in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, it spreads into six other countries: Cameroon, Central African Republic, Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea and Gabon. Keep your eyes peeled for bonobos, forest elephants, chimps, and lowland and mountain gorillas, along with some 400 other species of mammals!
Many visitors cite Australia’s terrifying wildlife as their main reason for not heading Down Under. And sure, they have more venomous snakes than any other country in the world, their spiders aren’t exactly small, and even their waters are filled with sharks, crocs and the occasional jellyfish. But there’s so much more to Australia than that! There’s the cute and cuddly koalas (who are permanently sleepy from eating too many eucalyptus leaves), waddling wombats, epic frill-necked lizards, and platypus – the only mammals in the world to lay eggs! Head to the outback, bush or sometimes even just suburbia for your best chance of spotting any of these animals – and careful not to step on a spiny echidna!
Angola is slowly becoming a destination for animal lovers again, after civil war and poachers wiped out much of their game population. Their elephants, zebras, giraffes, lions, leopards and hyenas have been replenished through a combination of transferring animals from nearby countries such as South Africa, and eagle-eyed rangers keeping an eye out for poachers. Make the trip to the Kissama National Park – the country’s only national park – just south of its capital, Luanda, where you’ll also get to spot some of the nation’s 900 bird species.
United States of America
The bald eagle is emblematic of American ethos – wild, free and independent. But, we have to say, the US boasts plenty of other animals with the same traits, ones that are a little closer to the ground. The American beaver – the world’s largest rodent – can be spotted building dams across the States, wherever there’s a river. Check out the majestic, terrifying beauty of bears, mainly in the north of the country – you’ll find black bears, grizzlies, and even polar bears in the chillier regions of the States. You could also spot a gnarled alligator, a moose, flamingos, and even coyotes in this country that’s never short of excess.
A little closer to home, we have plenty of wildlife that’s definitely nothing to sniff at – we don’t have bison or mountain gorilla, but who said big is best? Of late, adorable hedgehogs have become a meme, and if you tear your eyes away from the computer for a little while, you’ll also be able to spot them during the summer months in most parts of Britain. For something a little more aquatic, head to the coast (duh). The Orkney Islands, Cornwall, and Farne Islands of Northumberland are just a few of the places where you might get a glimpse of a friendly seal!
What’s orange and black and white all over? Tigers! And if you go to the right places in India, you’re sure to come across one! Visit Kanha National Park or Bandhavgarh National Park, both in central India, where these beautiful felines are prolific. There are also plenty of elephants to be seen in this vibrant country, as well as leopards, Indian rhinos, macaques, and even Asiatic lions! Head down to the coastline of Goa, where you might just catch sight of a dolphin frolicking in the glistening blue ocean.
Sure, Cape Town is nice, but get out of the city and you’ll see that South Africa is positively overflowing with myriad animal species. Within its dense forests, dry deserts and seemingly endless savannahs are plenty of game reserves and national parks to visit (we recommend a safari!). South Africa’s Big Five alone are worth the visit: elephants, buffalos, lions, rhinos and leopards – and don’t get us started on the rhinos, cheetahs, zebras, giraffes and hippos, as well as the springbok, after which the country’s national rugby union team is named.