South Africa Wildlife Quick Facts

There are around 300 species of mammals in South Africa and 850 bird species. It is also home to more than 22000 indigenous plants and 10% of the worlds’ flowering species. South Africa is known for big five game viewing. The big 5 includes the lion, leopard, rhinoceros, elephant and cape buffalo.  South Africa has the second-highest lion population in Africa at around 2070 after Tanzania with over 8000 lions. A recent study has shown that lion populations are diminishing. The leopard population in South Africa is estimated to be around 4500. There are approximately 4000 black rhinos and 18000 white rhinos in South Africa. There are approximately 24000 elephants in South Africa, 17000 of which can be found in Kruger National Park.

Wildlife in Cape Town

dolphin and whale watchingCape Town is not synonymous with the big 5 like the rest of South Africa although you can get game viewing a couple of hours outside of the city. Animals that can be found in Cape Town include Cape fur seals, African penguins, humpback whales, dolphins, sharks, Malachite kingfishers, Chacma Baboons, Cape clawless otters, Hippos, Flamingos and Rock hyraxes. It is not surprising that this mini list is dominated by water animals as Cape Town is a coastal city.

Wildlife in Johannesburg

animals to see in South AfricaJohannesburg is Africa’s most visited city. This is the city of gold is South Africa’s economic hub and its a great central location for anyone wanting to experience a big 5 safari in Johannesburg Zoo, Lion and Safari Park and it’s conveniently located for those wanting to visit Kruger National Park in Limpopo or Pilanesberg National Park, Elephant Sanctuary and Ann Van Dyk Cheetah Centre at the Hartebeespoort Dam. Some other interesting wild animals that can be sported outside of game reserves behind the city’s shrubs include foxes, genets, meerkats, porcupines and caracals.

Wildlife in Durban

go see hippos in st lucia kznThere is no shortage of game reserves in KZN, from Durban and its surrounds to the Battlefields Route that takes you all the way to Northern KwaZulu-Natal. Near Durban you can experience a big 5 safari at the Hluhluwe Game Reserve, go and see wild cats at Emdoneni Wild Cat Sanctuary where you will get a close look at cheetahs, serval cats, African wildcats and caracal. You can also go on a boat cruise safari world heritage site St Lucia and iSimangaliso Wetland Park where you can see hippos, crocodiles and fish eagles. Durban is a great place to go if you want to mix a safari with a Zulu cultural tour.

self drive safari across africaSouth Africa National Parks

The Kruger National Park is the largest and most popular of South Africa’s safari parks. There are 18 other excellent national parks to underpin the country as one of the best in the world to experience The Big Five. In addition, there is a long list of regional and private reserves in every corner of the land.

Kruger National Park

Kruger National Park is the number one game reserve in South Africa in terms of sheer size and popularity. It covers 2 million hectares of land, which is bigger than the country of Israel. Kruger National Park is where you go for the ultimate big 5 safari.


Addo Elephant Park
elephants in kruger national park

Addo Elephant National Park, which runs along the Indian Ocean in the Eastern Cape, even offers The Big Seven, adding the Southern right whale and Great white shark to their list of animals to spot. These majestic creatures rightly get plenty of attention, but they’re just a few of the nearly 300 species of mammals to be found; not to mention over 800 species of birds. Then there’s the cosmopolitan cities, the mix of cultures, 11 national languages, the history, vibrant African art, adventure activities, excellent restaurants and world-class wines. Most travellers opt for booking a rental with 4×4 hire South Africa to accommodate their travel plans.