There are a vast number of animals that live in and around the River Nile, attracted by its fertile waters. The majority of these are reptiles and over 100 species of fish, along with hippos, rhino and the many small land animals and birds living near the plentiful supply of water.
The most well-known and common reptile to be found in the River Nile area is the famous Nile crocodile. The Nile crocodile is well known for being a vicious predator, catching gazelle, wildebeest, and other mid-sized mammals and drowning them, then leaving them to rot until they are ready to eat. With a potential adult length of 20 feet and weighing in at over 1,500 lbs., this carnivorous killer may live up to 45 years.
The Nile monitor is a large species of lizard found in many parts of the Nile River basin. This aggressive, carnivorous reptile can grow to over 7 feet in length and feeds on small animals, fish, and birds. With a strong jaw, sharp teeth and nails, and a whip-like tail, it can potentially harm large animals and humans too, yet, despite this, it is sometimes kept as a pet. With yellow-orange stripes and spots on a muddy coloured body, this is a distinctive reptile best observed from a distance.
Ancient Egyptians once considered the hippopotamus or ‘river horse’ a creature of worship. Originally indigenous to Egypt, this seemingly slow and ponderous creature is actually vicious and destructive, and feared by many. Feared to be near extinction, these endangered animals can occasionally be seen along the Nile River.
The black rhino is also an endangered species that lives near the Nile crocodile’s hunting grounds. All rhinos are herbivores, finding food by either grazing or browsing. The rhino horn is considered hugely valuable for Chinese medicine and dagger handles, and illegal poaching has caused a rapid drop in numbers.
The Nile perch is one of the better-known River Nile fish species and is a valuable food fish. Silver in colour with a blue tinge and yellow-rimmed eyes, the Nile perch can reach an impressive 2 metres in length and is a fierce predator among its kind.
The red-tailed Nile catfish lives on the bottom of the Nile, eating things that filter down from above. Regarded as unsuitable for food by many cultures, the catfish population continues to flourish.