The central region of Africa is home to the Congolese rainforest. This rainforest is the second-largest in the world, according to Greenpeace, with the Amazon rainforest taking the top spot. Much of the rainforest is within the Democratic Republic of Congo, although other rainforest areas are within neighbouring countries including Cameroon and the Central African Republic. Rainforests lend themselves to great biodiversity because of the climate conditions. Many species of animals inhabit the Congo rainforest that are found nowhere else in the world.
The American Wildlife Foundation lists the hippopotamus as the third-largest living land mammal, behind the elephant and the white rhino. Hippos grow up to 13 feet long and 5 feet tall. They can weigh as much as 3.5 tons. The skin of the hippo is thick and secretes a red fluid that acts as protection against the sun. Hippos have webbed toes on their feet, which help both with swimming and weight distribution. To keep cool, hippos splash in water or mud because they lack sweat glands. Hippos live for around 40 years in the wild. They are herbivores, subsisting on a diet of grass and other foliage.
Congo Clawless Otter
Because of the rarity of the Congo clawless otter, not as much is known about it as with other species of otters, Sea World's website notes. The name of the otter is misleading, as the animals do have tiny claws on their toes. These otters forage for food to survive, eating small land vertebrates, frogs, and eggs. The Congo clawless otter has two distinct black spots between its eyes and noses that distinguishes it from other African clawless otters. Rather than having full webbing on their feet, Congo clawless otters have partial webbing. Scientists estimate the lifespan of these otters to be between 10 and 15 years.
The okapi is an animal that is exclusive to the Congo rainforest region. This animal has striped legs like a zebra, although the rest of its body is brown. Okapis are the only living relative to the giraffe, according to the San Diego Zoo website. They share a prehensile tongue with the giraffe but are not nearly as tall, growing to be about 5 feet in height. The creatures are shy, which makes it difficult to find and study them. Okapis live from 20 to 30 years.
The Congo peafowl is Africa's only true native pheasant, according to the Arkive website. This bird, discovered in 1936, lives only within the Congo rainforest region. The rarity of the Congo peafowl and the difficulty of accessing its habitat make it hard to study the bird in its natural wild environment. These birds' diet consists of seeds, fruits, and vegetation, as well as insects and termites. Male Congo peafowl have bright violet-blue body feathers and bristly white crown feathers, while females are a darker brown colour.
The bonobo has the distinction of being one of the closest animals to humans genetically, as noted on the Bonobo Initiative website. Bonobos live exclusively within the Congo and are on the endangered species list. Bonobos enjoy sexual activity in a casual way and are regarded as pansexual. These great apes have a matriarchal society, meaning that the females carry highest ranks within groups. Bonobos live anywhere from 50 to 55 years.