Africa is home to a diverse and exotic range of majestic wildlife. From lions and tigers to the rarest of birds and smallest of animals, if you can think of an animal, you’ll likely find it in Africa.
So it’s only natural to wonder whether or not you can see kangaroos there, too.
Generally, kangaroos are synonymous with Australia. In fact, when thinking of Australia, these iconic animals are probably the first to come to mind.
Would it be unlikely to see these kangaroos sharing the same savanna as the famous springbok?
Well, the short answer is no, there aren’t any kangaroos in Africa. However, there is something quite similar.
With this in mind, this article will explore everything you need to know about the prospect of kangaroos making Africa their home.
Like a kangaroo, let’s jump straight into it!
Are Kangaroos Native to Africa?
Unfortunately, kangaroos are not native to Africa. Both kangaroos and wallabies are home to a family of marsupials known as a macropod.
These can only be found in New Guinea, Australia, and a few other neighboring islands.
Originally, marsupials are from North America. The earliest marsupial fossil was located in what we now know as Montana, about 65 million years ago.
As a result, they migrated down to South America, with many species still alive today.
Some of the ancestors of kangaroos can be found among those marsupials in South America. Scientists theorize that they traveled to Australia via Antarctica before the continents broke apart.
Although it was in Australia that they evolved into what we know today as modern kangaroos. Since there are no non-marsupial mammals, they evolved to contain many niches.
Whereas, in Africa, some of the world’s most magnificent mammals were rising. From long-necked giraffes to fearsome big cats and majestic elephants, Africa has everything except marsupials.
Quickfire Kangaroo Facts
Unfortunately, you might not hear many kangaroo facts along your safari tour; however – not to worry! – we have got you covered!
Red kangaroos can hop over 56 km/h (35 mph), and, in a single leap, cover 25 feet!
While this is certainly impressive, some African animals would leave them in the dust
Kangaroo Babies Are Tiny
From films, books, and television, you probably already know that marsupial mothers carry their babies – or joeys – in a pouch.
Compared to some other mammal offspring, newborn joeys are tiny. When born, a baby kangaroo is approximately 0.2-0.9 inches long! When born, they climb from the birth canal straight into their mother’s warm, protective pouch.
Kangaroos vs Wallabies
There are only four species in Australia regarded as ‘kangaroos’. These include the eastern gray kangaroo, the antilopine kangaroo, the red kangaroo, and the western gray kangaroo.
The only noticeable difference between a kangaroo and a wallaby is the size. Kangaroo species tend to be much larger than wallaby species.
Confusingly, you can also find some species known as ‘wallaroos’. In terms of size, these are in the middle of a kangaroo and a wallaby.
The smallest species of the macropod family goes by entirely different names such as the pademelons and quokkas. Likewise, in northern Queensland and New Guinea, you’ll even find some tree-kangaroo species.
Although, none of these kangaroos, wallabies, or wallaroos can be found in Africa.
Can Kangaroos Survive in Africa?
Generally, importing species of animals is avoided. This is largely due to potential impacts on the original ecosystems. Therefore, as of now, there are probably plans to relocate these kangaroos.
Although, you may be wondering, hypothetically, could kangaroos survive in the African wild?
When looking at habitat and resources for food, some species of kangaroos could thrive in parts of Africa. With plenty of vegetation to nibble on, they won’t run out of food.
Although, that doesn’t mean that other herbivores won’t get to it first!
Additionally, some species of kangaroos can survive in tough drought conditions such as the red kangaroos who make home to Australia’s desserts.
In fact, some could survive the semi-arid climates of Kalahari or even the Namibia desert which supports many large herbivores such as oryxes.
The only problem with kangaroos living in Africa would be the competition for food, and, of course, predators.
Through evolution, kangaroos haven’t had to evolve with much competition for food, or to be wary of predators for that matter – in Australia, they have their own niche.
On the other hand, Africa is rich in life with a constant fight for resources, and a lion is going to look at a kangaroo as a juicy snack.
While kangaroos can hold themselves off with their long claws and powerful legs in Australia, they wouldn’t be much match for Africa’s top carnivores.
The Closest Animals To Kangaroos In Africa – The Springhare
Since there are no kangaroos in Africa, why is it such a common question?
Well, the answer may lie in the springhare. These African creatures closely resemble the iconic Australian roos.
Featuring a hopping gait with long hind legs, the springhare is commonly mistaken for a small kangaroo. Although, despite their similar appearances, they are unrelated.
Plus, despite its name, it isn’t a part of the rabbit family, either.
So, What Is A Springhare?
This little mammal is considered a rodent; however, it has left many scientists stumped on what to classify it as.
These mysterious animals have been categorized as jerboas, then porcupines, and after that scaly-tailed squirrels. Today, they have been allocated their own family of species.
In the springhare family, there are only two living species: the East African springhare and the South African springhare.
Their names provide a clear indication of where they live. South African springhares make home to several countries within southern Africa, whereas the East African springhares can be found in Tanzania and Kenya.
Fun Springhare Facts
These mammals are small but mighty, using their powerful legs to hop and leap great distances.
They are generally nocturnal animals. During the night, they like to forage for food including vegetation and the occasional insect. Whereas, during the daytime, they reside in burrows they’ve created.
Similar to some marsupials, under UV light, the springhare has a fluorescent coat.
While Kangaroos Don’t Live In Africa, There Is Plenty More Wildlife
Unfortunately, you aren’t going to find Kangaroos in Africa, or at least not in the wild.
If you’re looking to see them in person, you’re going to need to hop on a plane. However, this is probably for the best.
When you introduce non-native animals to a country, it usually doesn’t end well. In fact, Australia itself has had its fair share of invasive species such as cane toads and rabbits.
Plus, many African animals are already at risk of endangerment, with many conservationists struggling to protect the ones already there.
So, while there may not be many kangaroos in Africa, there is plenty more wildlife to see!
Kangaroos can be found hopping the streets and fields of Australia; however, one place where you won’t find them is in Africa. Contrary to popular belief, kangaroos are in fact not native to Africa.
Hopefully, this guide has informed you about kangaroos and their position in African wildlife.