Animal Life in South Africa

The landscape of South Africa offers a full range of habitats. South Africa is home to green forests, arid deserts, marshes and everything in between.
This makes the country a natural zoo for predators, birds, mammals, amphibians, reptiles and all sorts of insects.

However, the highlight for wildlife lovers in South Africa is the big five.

The Big Five

African Elephant
Cape Buffalo
For an up close and personal experience with the stunning animals of South Africa, we recommend the following parks.

Kruger National Park
Greater Kruger National Park
Tsitsikamma National Park
Pilanesberg National Park
Hluhluwe Imfolozi Game Reserve
Addo Elephant National Park
Shamwari Private Game Reserve
iSimangaliso Wetland Park
Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park
Unfortunately, yes. These two animals may be slowly fading out of existence in the country.
De Winton's Golden Mole
Riverine Rabbit
The following animals have been classified as endangered in South Africa. You’ll be lucky if you manage to spot them!
African Wild Dog
Mountain Zebra
White-tailed Rat
Blue Whale
Fin Whale
Sei Whale
Giant Golden Mole
Gunning's Golden Mole
Juliana's Golden Mole
Marley's Golden Mole
Van Zyl's Golden Mole


South Africa has about 230 mammal species! Including a group of serious hardcore predators.
South Africa’s endemic mammals (endemic species mean that they only exist in one specific region) include the Cape Elephant Shrew, Cape Mole-rat, Bontebok, Cape Grysbok, Cape Kudu, Cape Horseshoe Bat and the Springbok.
Because of South Africa’s sweeping shorelines, the country has extensive marine life.
Spotting a school of Dolphins is routine, with Whales like the Humpback and the Southern Right Whale being seen between July and December.
South Africa also has two mammals which are critically endangered, De Winton’s Golden Mole and the Riverine Rabbit.


South Africa is a nesting point for about 175 endemic bird species amongst hundreds of other species.
Some of the most sought endemic birds are
Black Oystercatcher
Blue Crane
Cape Vulture
Forest Canary
Jackal Buzzard
Ground Woodpecker
Knysna Turaco
Namaqua Sandgrouse
Protea Seedeater
Southern Bald Ibis
The Yellow-breasted Pipit
Southern Pale Chanting Goshawk
White-backed Mousebird

Amphibians & Reptiles

There are some fascinating amphibian types which can only be found in South Africa. They include the Table Mountain Ghost Frog, the Mistbelt Chirping Frog and the Knysna Spiny Reed Frog.
Here are other amphibians which you can find in the country.

Western Leopard Toad
Arum Frog
Bronze Caco
Spotted Snout Burrower
Cape Platanna
Delalande's Sand Frog
Paradise Toad
Natal Ghost Frog
Landdros Moss Frog

South Africa’s reptiles can be frightening, deadly and incredibly prehistoric looking.
The country has more than 350 species of reptiles. This includes crocodiles, lizards, snakes, chameleons, tortoises and turtles.
Here are some of the most notable reptiles of the country.

The Black Mamba
Boomslang snake
Brown House Snake
Cape Wolf Snake
Leopard Tortoise
Nile Crocodile
Flap-necked Chameleon
Giant Plated Lizard
Olive Grass Snake
Ornate Sandveld Lizard
Puff Adder
Serrated Hinged Terrapin
Snouted Cobra
Rainbow Skink
Rhombic Egg Eater
Southern Tree Agama
Speke’s Hinged Tortoise
Spotted Bush Snake
Spotted Thick Toed Gecko
Striped Skink
Vine Snake
Wahlberg's Velvet Gecko
White-Throated Monitor