Wildlife of South Africa

South Africa has a large variety of wildlife, including snakes, birds, plains animals, and predators. The country has 299 species of mammals and 858 species of birds.

Cape Buffalo

Cape buffalo

The Cape Buffalo, also known as the African cook, is a powerful animal that has few natural enemies. Their power and size means that they are very much able to defend themselves. They have been known to kill lions, hyena, humans, and other wild predators. Because of this they have taken their place in the African big five, elephants, lions, Cape buffalo, rhinoceroses, and leopards. (The big five are known to be some of the most dangerous and aggressive animals in Africa.) Another African name for the Cape buffalo is black death, because of their colour and their aggressive behaviour.



The African oryx gazelle also known as gemsbuck or gemsbok are African plains animals that travel in groups of 10-45. The gemsbuck's groups are set up with a dominant male and in most cases a few dominant females. Male's horns are straight and pointed at the tip. Because of this they have been known to impale attacking lions. Female horns can be the same but sometimes they are curved backward. There are two different varieties of gemsbok, the southern and the northern. The southern variety have longer horns and the northern have black fringed ears. The northern gemsbok are rarely seen in South Africa.


Greater kudu bull

The kudu are split into two different groups, greater kudu and lesser kudu. The greater kudu are regularly found in South Africa. Like the gemsbok, kudu are African antelope. They are fast and stealthy. They are a brown-grey colour with white stripes that go down the centre of their body. For those two facts their African name is grey ghost. The males have tall spiraling horns, females regularly have no horns. Kudu are peaceful and are normally not dangerous.


Leopards are the most reclusive of the big cats. They are opportunistic hunters and will prey upon smaller mammals and rodents when other food sources are unavailable. The diet of leopards consists primarily of ungulates such as Thomson's gazelles. Leopards have relatively small physical builds in comparison to lions and therefore choose to hunt nocturnally to prevent the possibility of confrontation. In order to protect themselves and preserve their kills, leopards have developed exceptional climbing skills, allowing them to scale.


There are many kinds of birds in South Africa. Here are a few:


National parks

South African endangered species

Scientific name in italics

South Africa critically endangered species

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