Wildlife in South Africa

Wildlife in South Africa: What to expect

For wildlife, South Africa is an incredible destination. Where else in the world can you dive on a coral reef in the morning light and take a Big Five safari as the sun sets as you can in northern KwaZulu-Natal?

Wildlife in South Africa can be spotted in numerous national parks and private reserves. There are more than 200 species of mammals in South Africa, with large numbers of Africa’s iconic mammals calling the bushveld and savannah regions home.

There are so many other fantastic animals to look out for as well, including canine carnivores such as wild dog, hyena, jackal and bat-eared fox and feline carnivores like caracal, African wild cat and the rare black-footed cat. Plus there are loads of different antelope, from the little duiker to the gemsbok, springbok, impala and the large kudu and sable antelope, as well as cheetah, giraffe, zebra, warthog, baboon, vervet monkey and even crocodiles.

South Africa is a fantastic bird-watching destination too, with around 840 species on the national checklist.

Marine wildlife is also incredible. You can check out the penguin colony at Cape Town’s Boulders Beach; watch turtles nesting in iSimangaliso Wetland Park; swim or kayak with seals, or visit the clifftop town of Hermanus – the greatest place on the planet for a spot of land-based whale-watching.

African Penguins: an endangered species

Visit Cape Town and you have the opportunity to get close to African penguins. They are an endangered species due to threats like overfishing.

There is an African penguin colony at Boulders Beach and it is protected as part of a collaboration between South African National Parks and the City of Cape Town.

There is an information centre to learn about the penguins and then raised boardwalks where visitors can watch the penguins catch waves into the shore and waddle around the beach.

African wild dogs: Tswalu Kalahari

The African wild dog, known as the painted dog is a wild canine native to sub-Saharan Africa. It is also one of the world’s most endangered mammals. They are highly social animals and gather in packs from ten to forty. They are highly strategic and opportunistic hunters and can reach speeds of seventy kilometres per hour.

The elusive leopard: where you can find them

Leopards are known to be extremely elusive. Yet South Africa has a private reserve where they are living wild and in great numbers. The Sabi Sands Game Reserve, which borders Kruger National Park, is probably the best place in the world for seeing leopards.

The leopards are highly habituated here and are largely unfazed by safari vehicle movements.

They are not only in Sabi Sands though, you can certainly visit a number of private reserves around the Kruger region with a good chance of spotting leopard.


If these wildlife species of South Africa impress you and you’re dreaming of a holiday in South Africa we’d love to help. Please do reach out via telephone or email.


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