The Top 15 African Safari Animals - Facts, Where to Find Them, & More
Africa’s grassland savannas, lakes, rivers, and forests are bestowed with a large and diverse collection of African safari animals. The continent is home to over 238 Amphibian species, 2600 bird species, and over 1100 mammal species, making it ideal for an African wildlife safari.
Africa is also home to endangered species that cannot be seen anywhere else in the world. These include Wild Dogs, Northern White Rhinos, Grey Crowned Crane, Guereza Colobus, Greater Kudu, Ostrich, and Okapi.
An African wild safari opens the door to a lot of fun and adventure. On a well-planned African wildlife safari package, you will spot the big cats, the big animals in Africa, the annual wildebeest migration, and more.
Plan your safari trip during the dry season for the best chance to view most of the African safari animals. May to June is the best time to go on a wildlife safari in South Africa.
The dry months between June and October offer Serengeti’s best game viewing opportunities. Ideally, work with your tour operator to determine the best time to visit Africa for a wildlife safari.
The best thing is that there are African wildlife safaris for all budgets. The cost starts from as low as USD 200 to as high as $2000 per person sharing per night.
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The Top 15 Must-See African Safari Animals List
1. Lions – The Kings of the Jungle
The experience of seeing the King of the Jungle in its habitat is one of the most memorable moments on an African wildlife safari. According to the Maasai people, this shy animal tends to kill 15-20 large animals a year.
Lions can also kill other hunters like leopards and cheetahs. They are cunning hunters and live in pride. Lions can be seen in southern and east Africa.
Africa’s best national parks and game reserves for lion spotting include the Serengeti National Park, Maasai Mara National Reserve, and the Kruger National Park.
Interesting Facts About Lions
- Lions spend up to 20 hours per day resting or sleeping. (Just like house cats.)
- They tend to be most active at dusk and dawn.
- They belong to the cat species.
- Lionesses are good hunters. They do 90% of the pride’s hunting.
- Lionesses need around 5kg of meat a day, while male needs around 7 kilograms a day.
- Lions’ roars can be heard from up to 5 miles.
- Lions do not live in the jungle; they prefer grassland.
- Lions weigh between 150-225 kg.
2. Elephants – The Biggest Land Animal on Earth
Elephants are one of the most intelligent animals in Africa and the largest land animal on earth. They can eat 350-400 pounds of bamboo, grass, roots, and leaves daily.
You can spot this vulnerable animal in the following parks: Chobe National Park in Botswana, Amboseli National Park in Kenya, and the Mana Pools National Park in Zimbabwe.
Unforgettable Facts About Elephants
- Male African elephants can be 3m tall and might weigh between 4000-7000 Kg.
- You can tell the different species of elephants from their ears! African elephants have ears shaped like the continent of Africa.
- Elephant tusks never stop growing; you can tell the elephant’s age from their enormous tusks.
- While the lion spends up to 20 hours a day resting or sleeping, the elephant spends up to 18 hours eating grass.
- Elephants produce up to one ton of poop a week.
- Elephants communicate with one another over long distances through vibrations.
- Unfortunately, elephants are killed by hunters for their ivory tusks.
- The pregnancy period of a female elephant is the longest among all mammals: 22 months.
3. African Buffalo – Aggressive and Unpredictable
The buffaloes will be the first choice if we pick the most frightening animal of the big five African animals. This aggressive and unpredictable animal has never been tamed before.
Buffaloes live in herds, and a herd can kill a lion. They eat around 60 pounds of grass a day and are pretty large. They are amongst the most powerful African savanna animals.
Some of the best places to locate buffaloes include Serengeti National Park, Tanzania, Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya, and Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe.
Interesting Facts About Buffalos
- While elephants never forget, buffalos never forgive. They usually stalk and attack hunters that have once hurt or attacked them.
- While the buffalos’ hearing and smell are exceptional, they do not have good eyesight.
- When attacked by predators, buffalos form a circle around the week of the herd to protect themselves.
- The African buffalo’s average life period while living in the wild is 20 years.
- Buffalos usually have birds on their backs. While getting a ride, the bird picks lice and fleas from the buffalo’s hair.
- The buffalo weighs between 2000-2800 pounds.
- Buffaloes can run 37 miles per hour.
- Buffalo horns distinguish the animal’s age and sex. Males have long curved horns, while females have shorter, narrower horns.
4. Leopard – The Leaping Star of Africa
The leaping star of the sub-Saharan and northeast Africa can jump 6m through the air. Leopards are fast; they can run up to 58km/h. This African safari animal has a supreme sense of hearing and vision, making them ferocious hunters.
Although they are tourism’s biggest star, Leopards are the hardest to spot among the big 5 African safari animals. They are skilled climbers, and during the day, they rest on the branches of trees.
You can spot a leopard in the following places while on a wildlife safari: South Luangwa National Park in Zambia, Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya, and Murchison Falls National Park in Uganda.
Amazing Leopard Facts
- They belong to the cat’s species.
- They have super night vision! Leopards see seven times better than humans at night.
- Leopards can carry up to twice their body weight.
- You can tell the sex of a leopard from its size. Males weigh around 90 kg, while females weigh about 60 kg.
- Leopards tend to spend most of their time alone. They are very solitary.
- Female leopards can cross the territory of a male leopard to mate, giving birth at any time of the year.
- They communicate through a hoarse, raspy cough or a growl.
5. White & Black Rhino – One of the Rare Animals on Earth
Africa safari animals list A-Z should contain one of the most endangered and rare animals on earth, the rhino. Rhinos are grass and leave eaters. They pull fruits and leaves from the branches using their big lips.
At night, dusk, and dawn, rhinos feed. Rhinos tend to find one another through their smells. They have a sharp sense of smell. Unfortunately, Rhinos are usually killed for their horns. They are also generally solitary animals.
You can spot this endangered animal in many African National Parks and game reserves. These include Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park -South Africa, and Etosha National Park. The last two White Northern Rhinos are found at Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya.
Interesting Facts About Rhinos
- There are two species of Rhinos: black rhinos and white rhinos.
- Only two northern white rhinos remain in the world and are at Ol Pejeta Conservancy.
- Female and male rhinos are usually around the same size. They weigh between 700-1300 kg.
- Rhinos run on their toes, although that is a lot of weight to carry.
- Rhinos have thick skin, but they get sunburnt.
- They tend to charge at anything that scares them and are fast.
- Rhinos can run at a speed of 30 miles per hour.
- They have poor eyesight.
- You can tell the difference between a black and white rhino from their lips, not their color.
6. Cheetah – The Fastest Land Animal on Earth
With a speed of up to 112 km/h, cheetahs are the fastest land animals on earth. Compared to other types of cats, cheetahs are smaller in size. They have beautiful, distinctive ‘tear stripes’ that start from the inner corner of the eye to the side of the nose.
Unlike many other African safari animals, Cheetahs live on their own. Cheetahs are generally easy to spot; they stand on high ground and sometimes jump on top of Safari’s vehicle.
You can see a cheetah in the following places in Africa: Maasai Mara National Reserve- in Kenya, Serengeti National Park- in Tanzania, and Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park- in South Africa/Botswana.
Interesting Facts About the Cheetah
- Cheetahs are likely to hunt during the day to avoid their kill being stolen by larger predators.
- Cheetahs have exceptional eyesight that helps them run after their prey
- A cheetah’s chase of prey lasts less than a minute; they would only chase it for 200-300m.
- Female cheetahs give birth to 2-8 cups at a time.
- Cheetahs usually weigh between 34-54 kg.
- Female cheetahs are caring and dedicated mothers. They look after their children for a decent while after they give birth.
- Cheetahs are considered ‘endangered animals because they have been hunted for their fur for years.
- The IUCN estimates that the remaining cheetahs in Africa are 9000-12000 only.
7. Giraffes – The Tallest Land Animal
Here are the world’s tallest land animals and the most beautiful safari animals. They eat plants and are one of the most common African safari animals.
Giraffes do not drink much water. When they do, thou, unique veins in their necks help push blood to the head so they would stay conscious.
There are four species of giraffes, and they prefer to live in the dry savannas of Africa. Among these species, the Masai Giraffe is probably the most famous.
The giraffe must be on your African safari animals list if you plan a trip to Africa.
You can spot this beautiful giant in Etosha National Park in Namibia, Kruger National Park in South Africa, and the Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya.
Interesting Facts About Giraffes
- Giraffes have long tongues that can reach up to 53 cm.
- They can grow to about 5.5 m tall.
- Giraffes can eat up to 45 kg of leaves and grass a day.
- Female Giraffes deliver their babies while standing, meaning that the baby comes to life with a 1.5 m drop to the ground!
- Giraffes are very social animals. They wander in groups; female giraffes and their little ones together and male giraffes on their own looking for a mate.
- Giraffes live for some time, between 25-40 years.
- Every giraffe has a unique pattern (spots), just like a fingerprint that can’t be found on any other giraffe.
8. Nile crocodile – A Dangerous African Animal but a Caring Parent
The Nile crocodiles are one of the most dangerous African animals. They mainly eat fish but attack anything that crosses their path, like animals and people. The Nile crocodile is caring and dedicated to protecting its eggs and nests.
You can spot this animal in the following African National Park and game reserves: Masai Mara National Reserve, Serengeti National Park in Tanzania, and the Kruger National Park in South Africa.
Nile Crocodile Facts
- There are around 13 different species of crocodiles.
- They lay between 10-6 eggs at a time.
- They are incredibly aggressive and tend to stalk their prey in and out of water.
- Nile crocodiles grow up to 6,5m long and weigh up to 1100 kg.
- Male Nile crocodiles are 30% larger in size than female crocodiles.
- Nile crocodiles can eat up to half their body weight at a time.
- They can hold their breath underwater for up to 2 hours when threatened.
- The Nile crocodile has the most substantial bite in the animal kingdom.
9. Oryx: The Dessert Animals
Oryx is one of the great runners amongst the African safari animals. Unlike other animals, they have been known to kill animals attempting to hunt their species.
Oryx have large horns, and they are between the shape of a goat and a gazelle. Oryx can stay without water for a long time, and they feed on the grass.
Interesting Oryx Facts
- Oryx has a unique circulation system. They can cool the blood flowing to the brain through small blood vessels in their nose as they breathe.
- Depending on the species, an oryx weighs between 220-450 pounds.
- Oryx can detect rainfall from 50 miles away through its sense of smell.
- Female oryx can mate throughout the year; their pregnancy lasts 6-9 months.
- Oryx live in herds that can have up to 600 members.
10. Wild dog – Intelligent and Social
This African safari animal is intelligent and social. The African wild dog looks like a domestic dog to some extent, but they differ in size and social attitude.
Wild dogs are not as aggressive as some suggest. They are cooperative and caring to members of the same herd.
The best places to see wild dogs include Mana Pools National Park in Zimbabwe, Selous Game Reserve in Tanzania, and the Moremi Game Reserve in Botswana.
Wild Dog Facts
- Only 5000-6000 of these species are in the wild. They are threatened.
- Female wild dogs role the pack.
- They have a hunting success score of 80% because of their organized efforts.
- Wild dogs live and hunt in packs, and the entire group takes care of newborn members.
- They are critically at risk due to habitat fragmentation.
- They can run at a speed of more than 44 miles per hour.
11. Zebra - The Stripped African Safari Animals
Zebras are strong and hard-to-tame animals. Their bodies are covered with patterns of black and white stripes. Although the lines might look a-like most of us, they are as unique to each zebra as a fingerprint is to any human being.
Zebras feed on grass. They have excellent eyesight that keeps them aware of any possible threat. You can see the Zebra while on a Safari. You can see the Zebra in Kafue National Park in Zambia, Serengeti in Tanzania, and Masai Mara Game Reserve in Kenya.
Interesting Facts About Zebras
- Zebras sleep standing up.
- Zebras weigh between 400-400 kg.
- They are social animals. They usually live in herds or super herds (depending on the number of zebras).
- Usually, zebras team up with buffaloes or wildebeests to travel.
- The ears of a zebra can tell a lot about its mood.
- They communicate through their body language.
- A kick from a zebra has the charge to kill a lion.
12. Wildebeest - The Migrating African Animal
This African animal with horns is sociable and territorial. You can find females and their little ones in herds, but males usually leave the herd when they are 4/5 years old. Covering their bodies is short hair; their heads are long and shaped like a rectangle.
Most female wildebeests give birth around the same time of the year, which makes them an easy target for predators. You can see the Wildebeest in the following national parks: Serengeti National Park in Tanzania and Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya.
Interesting Wildebeest Facts
- They migrate a huge distance every year, around 500- 1600 miles.
- Wildebeest and zebras usually migrate together for protection and food.
- Wildebeests can run up to 65 km per hour.
- They usually weigh between 120-270 kg.
- Wildebeests are noisy by nature. They communicate through loud moans and snorts.
- The wildebeest migrations see over 1.8m of these animals cross the Mara river, filled with Nile crocodiles.
13. Warthog - The Home Snatchers
Do you remember Pumbaa? Well, let us know more about its origins. This intelligent and fast animal feeds on grass and can be found in African grasslands and savannas.
This animal usually weighs between 50-150 kg, and male warthogs may weigh 20kg more than females. They feed on short grass, and sometimes the earth warms.
You have the best chances of spotting Warthogs in the following national parks: Hell’s Gate National Park in Kenya and Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda.
Amazing Warthog Facts
- Female warthogs live in groups and are social animals.
- Warthog can run up to 55 km per hour.
- Unlike many other wild animals, female warthogs practice abandoning their young ones.
- Warthogs sleep and rest in holes made by other animals.
14. Hippos - Among the Largest African Safari Animals
Hippo is among the largest African savanna animals. They are usually found in water; they spend most of their lives in rivers, lakes, or swamps. Just like buffalos, hippos can be aggressive and caring parents.
You must see Hippos before you leave Africa!
The following national parks are the best place to do so: Serengeti National Park, Tanzania, Kruger National Park, South Africa, and Hluhluwe National Park, South Africa.
Interesting Hippo Facts
- Hippos sweat a red liquid that serves as a sunscreen under the hot African sun.
- They are most active at night, and they only eat grass.
- Every 5 minutes underwater, an adult hippo needs to resurface to breathe.
- Hippos can consume up to 68 kg of grass every day.
- Hippos weigh between 2200 – 3600 kg.
- Hippos do not swim. They glide underwater by pushing themselves through objects.
15. Waterbuck – Less than 200,000 Remaining in the World
As the name suggests, the waterbuck can be commonly found around water. They feed on grass and leaves, usually spotted in grasslands, woodlands, and forests.
There are two species of waterbuck in the world, and the estimated number of the remaining members of this animal is less than 200,000.
You can see this rare animal on a safari in limited national parks like Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe, Murchison Falls National Park, Uganda, Kidepo Vand alley National Park, Uganda, and Kenya Amboseli, Nakuru, and other parks.
- The waterbuck’s body odor is a protection technique. It is too bad that it deters predators.
- The horn of a waterbuck would grow to be 100cm long.
- This animal weighs between 150-300 kg.
African Safari Animals - Frequently Asked Questions
After that short list of safari animals, it would only make sense to look at the commonly asked questions about African wildlife animals.
1. What Is the Most Famous Animal in Africa?
Most cat families, like lions, leopards, cheetahs, and others, live in Africa. These animals exist in this continent due to their ability to deal with its ecosystem.
2. Are There Tigers in Africa?
As for tigers, part of the cat family, too, have never been seen in Africa. Tigers are usually seen in Asia.
3. What Animals Can You See on a Safari in Kenya?
If you plan an African wildlife safari, visiting Kenya should be on your list. Kenya has a variety of animals.
You can see Lions, Elephants, Giraffes, Crocodiles, Rhinos, Wildebeest, Buffalo, and many other small animals. Kenya has all the big five animals.
4. What is the Most Dangerous Animal in Africa?
Almost all wild animals are dangerous. However, the buffalo breaks the record with its repeatedly aggressive attitude towards people.
It is considered the most frightening and dangerous animal on the continent. It has been reported that buffaloes kill over 200 people each year.