South Africa Fauna

South African Animals

South African is blessed with a great riches of various animal life that can be found in large national parks. The relatively mild (mostly subtropical) climate allows the visitor to view these beasts in a cooler environment than in most of the country's northern neighbors.


There are approximately 16 land and marine parks in South Africa and about 70 provincial reserves. Nearly 6% of the land has been set aside as public reserves. Mammals number 338 species; all of Africa's "Big Five" are here, as well as exotic antelope (gemsbok, springbok, etc.), cheetah, wild dogs, crocodiles, hippo ... the list is almost endless.

Reptile species number around 400 and nearly 900 species of bird.

Probably the most sought-after African wildlife adventure is the quest for the "Big Five". These animals - elephant, lion, rhino, buffalo, leopard - can be seen with some consistency in the Kruger National Park and the surrounding national or private parks. The chances of seeing the glorious "Big Five" in these areas are probably higher than anywhere else in Africa.

The African elephant is the largest land mammal in the world. The females live in herds with infants and adolescents. Males are usually alone or in bachelor groups. More info...

Lions are also pack animals with fairly large prides of up to twenty. The main hunters are the females, who hunt in groups of 2 or 3. More info...

Both the white (or wide-mouthed) and black (hook-lipped) rhinoceros are found in South Africa. The rhino is one of the most ancient species of animal in the world. They are generally solitary and meet infrequently for a short mating period. More info...

The Cape Buffalo are among the most ferocious animals in Africa. A wounded, alarmed or disturbed buffalo will not hesitate to attack viciously. The Cape buffalo is a different species from the Asian water buffalo. More info...

The leopard is quite common throughout Africa. These are nocturne animals, and also having a solitary and wary nature, are difficult to find. More info...

There is a vast variety of antelope to be found in South Africa, some of them exclusively in this area - the black wildebeest (white-tailed gnu), the bontebok, the blesbok and the Cape grysbok. More information about these, and other animals, can be found by clicking here.

Other animals included in this study (see links to the right) include the cheetah, hippo, meerkat and hyena.

Many of these animals were seen during a trip RSAO made to South Africa recently. In fact, most of the pictures seen on this site were taken by our officials. To read about this adventure and view more of the pictures, go to the SA Adventure section.


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