Discovering the animals of Djibouti

Despite its very high temperatures 6 months a year, scarce rainfall, and semi-desert arid zones, the Republic of Djibouti is endowed with a rich land and sea fauna.

You don't necessarily think about it, but these very diverse animals are easily observable, which is a plus when you discover Djibouti!

To present some of them to you in a detailed way, and for the pleasure of the eyes, here are some examples at sea, on land and in the air, which I illustrated with photos: they were all taken in Djibouti by Josiane and Bernard Lips, university professors, passionate among other fields of speleology and diving.

Fish of the Republic of Djibouti

Djibouti has 370 kilometres of coastline and several hundred species of fish populate its territorial waters. Whether you are a scuba diver or a fan of PMT (fins, mask, snorkel), you don't know where to look!

The Famous Seasonal: The Whale Shark

To all credit, the imposing whale shark comes to take its winter quarters between November and January, in the waters of the Gulf of Tadjourah. This fish, measuring between 4 and 10 metres long on average, finds there plankton, krill and small fish which it feeds on at a rate of one tonne per day!

Totally harmless to humans, and moving slowly sometimes close to the surface, it is easy to move with him, for this mask and snorkels are sufficient. To discover it, remember to book during the season! We propose you circuits including its discovery: the Beaches and Campsites circuitfor example !

whale shark-animals-Djibouti-diving
Meeting with the Whale Shark

Still poorly known, the whale shark is a threatened species due in part to the fishing it is subjected to in some parts of the world, and to trauma caused by engine propellers. Boats and swimmers must keep their distance to avoid injuring or disturbing it.

Rich marine fauna between corals, clown possoins, turtles and dolphins ...

Islands like the Archipelago of the 7 Brothers are home to fearsome predators: Great Barracuda, Carangue, Red Carp, sharks and other Meru...

Also, stingrays, moray eels and turtles are easily observed from the surface.

The variety of colours of the marine fauna and the numerous corals is a source of wonder. Species participating in the show include: lionfish, blue-green chromis, barber wrasse, parrot fish, surgeon fish, clown fish, and other schools of fusiliers. Let's finish to make the connection with the birds, with swordfish and dolphins, which can be seen emerging from time to time above the waves.

Birds of Djibouti

Bird lovers will not be disappointed... The luckiest will try to spot in the Goda or Mabla Mountains, the famous Djibouti Francolin, an endemic species of the country, represented since 2013 on the 250 FD coins.


Djibouti is a country of small surface area where various biotopes are concentrated: beaches, mangrove swamps, lakes, mountains, deserts?

The Abbe Lake allows you to observe many animals, including birds with its flamingos, waders, geese and ibis.


Djibouti also allows the observation of several species of raptors, including vultures in the desert area of Grand Bara, and the Neophron in Tadjourah.

The semi-desert areas also make it possible to observe the colorful Persian Bee-eater:


The freshness and greenery of the Goda Mountains are home to species such as the Galao and Yellow-billed Galao.

Djibouti's terrestrial fauna

Less numerous and less colourful than those of the ocean, Djibouti's land animals are also noteworthy.

Domesticated, the majestic dromedary is nonetheless respected. It is at home, on the track, but also often on or beside roads...

Camels at Lake Assal

At the other end of the size scale, despite its cousin the elephant, the daman enchants young and old alike. It is a herbivore the size of a rabbit whose tawny brown coat makes it difficult to spot on the rocks where it likes to bask in the sun.

Other small animals such as burrowing squirrels and foxes can be found in the rocks.

Antelopes and gazelles are quite common in Djibouti. You can't miss the dik dik, a 40 cm dwarf antelope with a grey coat, endemic to the countries of the Horn of Africa. Their name comes from the noise they make when they are in danger.

Among the animals frequently encountered in Djibouti are baboons, which are sometimes aggressive and dangerous. Also, green monkeys visit us in the campsites of the Goda Mountains!

Goats and goats' kids are omnipresent in Djibouti, in the city or in the bush. It is not uncommon to see a specimen perched on the top of a small acacia tree...

In search of wild animals

Much more rarely, it is possible to see a hyena at dawn, which will flee if you try to approach it within 300 meters. Do not try to catch it, it can run at 60 km / hr ...

Lovers of wild animals and endemic animals of the Horn of Africa will appreciate the visit of the Decan refuge! You will find there among other species the famous leopards collected by the veterinarian! And the visit of the reserve also allows a good overview of the local flora!

Africorne proposes the visit of Refuge Decan, in particular in the following itinerary: Landscapes and Sensations.

In response to your comments and current events, a little update is in order to talk about a species thought to be extinct, and re-discovered this year: the elephant shrew, a kind of mouse with an elongated snout that allows it to suck up the insects it feeds on!

Photo and information on:

Naturally, the list of animals in Djibouti made in this short article is not exhaustive, you will find more examples on the site Djibouti Nature.

However, photographs do not replace life-size observation...

So I am waiting for you to make you discover the fauna and flora of the Republic of Djibouti!

4 Responses

  1. Hello, Annick.
    And congratulations for your responsiveness! Because this species was thought to be extinct since 1973, and it is only since August of this year that 12 specimens of elephant shrew have been spotted in Djibouti. It is a small mammal the size of a mouse whose elongated snout allows it to suck insects it feeds on.
    He would have a common kinship with the elephant...

  2. Excellent article, thank you! Just two precisions, the lizard is not a cameleon but an agame and it's not a leopard but a guepard on the other picture... OK these are details

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