In this post, we listed the animals in South Africa. In case you do not know, South Africa is unique for its mild climate on a continent that is infamous for high temperatures. That added with its advantageous location at the bottom tip of Africa make it especially habitable to a diverse range of plant and animal life.
We will be highlighting a number of species that show the diversity and richness in the ecosystem of South Africa, and why we must work at all costs to protect these animals, lest we live a depleted ecosystem to our children.
List Of Animals In South Africa
- African Buffalo
- African Wild Dog
- Common Warthog
- Greeter Kudu
- Vervet Monkey
- Common Eland
- Sable Antelope
- Blue Wildebeest
- Black Wildebeest
- Red Hartebeest
- Southern Right Whale
- Chacma Baboon
- Common Tsessebe
- Mountain Zebra
- Black-footed Cat
- African Wildcat
- Blue Crane
- African Clawless Otter
- Clack-backed Jackal
- Golden Mole
- Roan Antelope
- Common Duiker
- Puff Adder
- Black Mamba
- Cape Grysbok
- Brown Fur Seal
- African Penguin
- South African Springhare
- Blue Duiker
- Cape Vulture
- Mountain Reedbuck
- Cape Fox
- and more …
Brief Details on Some Of the Animals in South Africa
- African penguin
Yes, Africa has penguins. The African Penguin is a relatively small species of penguin that calls the open waters and beaches on the southernmost parts of Africa it’s home. There are three penguin colonies in South Africa, and 2 of them are located at Boulders Beach, which is located near Cape Town. The penguins are sea-going creatures- powerful swimmers who catch small fish in the ocean and bring home the catch in their stomachs to feed their young.
Ostriches are the largest of the bird species still living in the world today. They are flightless but grow up to 2.7 m(which is 8.8 ft tall.) They roam the countryside freely and are abundant in the national parks, but these birds have also been domesticated- they are kept on large ostrich farms. Ostriches are so popular that the town of Oudtshoorn in south-western South Africa is known as the ‘ostrich capital of the world’!
Their eggs are quite large and weigh up to 1.9kg/4 pounds! It is said that one egg can feed up to 19 people at a time!
The springbok is a kind of antelope, which is very similar to the deer. It is the national animal of South Africa and is the name of some of South Africa’s national sports teams. Springboks are very common in rural areas and is domesticated on many farms.
This animal is very common in the bush where wild populations roam the plains, playing an important role in the balance of the ecosystem. When in danger they can jump up to 2 meters or 6.5 feet high.
The famous king of the jungle! These big cats live in pride that are led by a male lion. The leader of the Pride, however, is not usually accustomed to hunting and leaves that to the females he controls. These are truly beautiful creatures but are best admired from a long distance. Lions are usually only encountered in wildlife enclosures or private game reserves.
The African elephant is the biggest and most impressive land mammal in the world. These monsters can grow up to almost 4 m/13 ft tall, and weigh up to 10,000 kg. Elephants live in tight-knit families made up of sisters and cousins, and are very protective of their young. They also have an excellent memory.
Sadly, these magnificent animals have been hunted for their tusks to near breaking point, and now there are only a few wild elephants left in South Africa. Elephants are now endangered species and are thus kept in national parks such as Kruger Park or Addo Park.
Buffalo are huge animals that are related to cattle. They can be spotted near waterholes in many South African national parks. They usually move in herds and can be protective and aggressive! They are strong beasts and have been known to kill strong male lions by goring them to death. Many casualties are reported yearly as people encounter buffalo, so you want to be careful.
The Rhino is a massive creature that can weigh about 4 tons. With its horn standing on the snout of its nose, and its low front shoulders this creature looks like a bulldozer, ready to demolish whatever stands in its way.
There are white and black rhinos, both of which are massive and strong. They cannot see well, but have acute senses of smell. Although the black and white rhino can hardly be distinguished by their skin color, they can be more readily identified by their behavior. The white rhinos have a broad lip and are reputed to be friendly, while the black rhinos, which have a small lip and look more threatening, and are generally more aggressive.
The leopard is a big cat, although it is much smaller than the female lion. Leopards are identifiable by there spots. In South Africa, the leopard lives mainly in game reserves. The leopard hunts by ambush, and taking its prey by surprise. Only a few of these big cats are left to roam freely in the remote bushveld. They are excellent climbers too. Leopards are very reclusive animals, they will hide from humans and will rarely be seen.
Baboons are primates that are closely related to monkeys. These animals are quite bold and can be seen along the roadside in many rural areas in South Africa. They can be quite curious and are also known to approach people. they usually move in groups called troops and can defend themselves with biting- they have sharp teeth.
Hippopotamuses (also known as hippos) are big, aggressive animals. They are reddish in coloration and barrel-shaped in structure. Hippos are vegetarians and eat grass as well as other kinds of vegetation. They spend most of their time in the water, and so the best place to spot them is in lakes, rivers, or waterbeds. But be very careful, hippos can be very aggressive and have been known to charge at humans without warning.
- Pygmy Shrew
The pygmy shrew has the distinction of being the world’s smallest mammal. The tiny shrew which looks like a mouse is only 8 cm/3 inches long and weighs less than 4 g which is the equivalent of a teaspoon of sugar.
South African waters are home to eight species of whales. Southern Right Whales can be seen along the entire western and southern coastline, swimming in the ocean from the months of May to December. Whale watching has become so popular in South Africa that in the town of Hermanus, which is not far from Cape Town, the beach has its own whale crier, whose job is to announce when whales are in the bay. People then troop out to watch them. It is a major attraction to the town.
There are several different shark species swimming around in South Africa’s waters. These include Great white sharks, which are no doubt one of the most fearsome creatures of the waters. If you are intent on swimming at a beach please look for signs, and make sure that you contact the relevant authorities first before entering the waters. Sharks follow vibrations in the water when searching for prey. Although they are not traditionally man-eaters they may smell a person and mistake him for a meal. Sharks are particularly triggered by the presence of blood in the water, and can detect the scent of blood from about 5km/3 miles away. If you are injured and are bleeding, then please stay away from the waters.
There are 175 species of scorpions in South Africa! Scorpions actually play an important role in maintaining the balance of the ecosystem, by eating insects they keep their populations under control. Though most of them are harmless, stay away from them.
- Cape Cobra
The Cape Cobra is one of the most deadly snakes in the world! It shares this evil classification with other snakes like the puff adder, the boomslang, and the green or black mamba, they are the most poisonous snakes in South Africa.
These water creatures can grow to be quite big, and they are known to devour prey without chewing. these beasts are not friendly and are only interested in making meals out of anything they encounter. Please stay away from them.
As expected, this is an abridged list. It may be an impossible catalog and highlight all the animals of South Africa in one post.