Geography & Wildlife

Range of habitats

Rare birds

At least 14 bird species are endemic to Angola and very rare or endangered, such as the Orange-breasted Bush-shrike (Laniarius brauni) and the Pulitzer’s Longbill (Macrosphenus pulitzeri).

Due to its diversity of habitats – rainforest in the north, montane forests in the highlands, grasslands across plateau areas and gravel plains in the deep south – Angola has a varied wildlife, particularly for birds. There are over 900 bird species across the country.

With savannah grasslands across much of Angola, animals such as elephants, giraffes, zebras, wildebeests and antelopes are at home here. Carnivores include lions, leopards and hyenas.

Giant sable antelopeThe giant sable antelope (Palanca Negra Gigante) is extremely rare and found only in the north of Angola, where it is being protected in conservation areas such as Cangandala National Park – see Map. The male animal is majestic, with the longest horns of any antelope and a dark brown-black coat. Another rare species in Angola is the Namibian giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis Angolensis), which is also known as the Smoky giraffe.

Marine life

Angolan scenery

Angola's rivers

Many rivers flow down from the plateau. Angola’s longest river is the Cuanza/Kwanza (at 960km) and exits into the Atlantic. Rivers in the southeast flow towards Zambia and into the Zambezi River (see Rivers) or drain into Botswana and the Okavango delta. In the north east, some form tributaries of the Congo River.

Angola’s coastal waters contain a high number of dolphin and whale species. Dolphins seen off the coast include the Atlantic spotted dolphin (Stenella frontalis), striped dolphins (Stenelle coeruleoalba) and the rare Atlantic humpback dolphin (Sousa tueszii), which are usually sighted in shallow coastal waters or estuaries.

A land of varying heights

Angola can be broadly divided into three geographic areas – the low coastal strip, highlands and plateau land.

Along the coast, there is a strip less than 200m above sea-level. The land then rises up and in the central-eastern region, Mount Moco is the highest peak at 2,620m.

The montane/mountain forests of Mount Moco contain unique flora and fauna, including rare birds such as the Swierstra’s Francolin (Francolinus swierstrai). Threatened by land-clearance for agriculture, conservationists are battling to save the remaining areas from deforestation.

The rest of Angola – approximately two-thirds of the country – is situated across plateau land, averaging 1000-1400m in height.

In the very north, the small region of Cabinda is only 7,823 kilometres square (3,020 sq miles), less than half the size of Wales. This forms an enclave of Angola which is separated from the rest of the country by the DR Congo. Some Cabinda locals would like the region to become independent.