The South African bush is my absolute favourite place to be as an animal lover. The wildlife of South Africa is incredibly varied, and the bush is such a calm place to be. If you are interested in knowing more about South Africa then check out these post on anti-poaching and Wildlife ACT.
In this post, I’m going to introduce you to all the animals you may encounter and give you a little bit of information about each one!
Just a quick note to say that all images are mine unless stated otherwise. Feel free to use my contact page if you want to use my images.
So let’s get into the wildlife of South Africa!
The Big 5
Lions are a huge attraction to people visiting Africa; they are top predators, incredibly cute and their behaviour is fascinating.
Typically a symbol of strength, lions live in prides and work together to take down huge prey like giraffe and antelopes. They are usually found in prides ranging from 2 to 10, sometimes more with one or two males and the rest being females or cubs. You may also find an odd bachelor roaming in search for females.
If you’re interested in a fascinating lion story, then check out this article written about the Mapogo Lion Coalition, the most feared and famous pride in history.
As you can see, I found it very difficult to get a photo of the beautiful leopard. Why? Because they’re elusive; super hard to spot and very quick to run away at the sight of people.
These animals are solitary, and you’ll most likely see them at dawn and dusk, hiding in shrubs and trees. If you’re looking for a leopard, look up! An interesting fact about this animal is that they like to swim.
Since they hunt on their own, they tend to catch small prey such as birds, warthogs and baboons.
Elephants are herbivorous animals that live in a matriarch hierarchy, meaning the females are the ones in charge. Their herds can range from 9 to 50 individuals, and I once saw 150 elephants in one day!
For such big animals, they really can sneak up on you. Sometimes you don’t see them until they are right next to you.
If you catch a lone bull, there’s a chance you’ll be charged at. If this happens, don’t panic! Your guide will know exactly what to do in that situation, and you’ll most likely irritate the elephant if you start screaming. Keep an eye out for a post on safari etiquette.
If you read my post on my scariest experiences while travelling, then you’ll know that buffalo can be terrifying, especially in the dark. But don’t let this distract you from how awesome these animals are! They are on the big 5 list for a reason.
You’ll usually find these animals surrounded by Oxpecker birds, as you can see in the photo. They have what is called a symbiotic relationship, where the birds offer something to the buffalo (cleaning of parasites) and the buffalo offers something to the birds (food).
Remaining wildlife of South Africa
The Big 5 is pretty cool to see, especially if you manage to see them all in one trip, but they aren’t the only things you’ll want to see! Make sure you get excited about these other animals…
Cheetahs are my favourite animal! Why? Because the way they move is incredible. They’re the fast land mammal on Earth, with speeds of up to 130km/h!
They’re solitary animals, and because of this, they tend to get their food stolen by other predators, which is called Kleptoparasitism. After they catch their prey, they are exhausted, and unable to protect their catch from being stolen.
An interesting fact about these animals is that they are highly inbred. They went through a huge dip in their population, which has left them at 97% related to each other. Inbreeding causes many, many problems which I can write about is you are interested (let me know down below).
Seeing one of these was awesome! They’re not very common, and you don’t hear them talked about very much so if you get to see one then you’re very lucky.
South Africa is such a diverse place, and I got so envious of ‘young me’ writing this post because I really want to go back out there!