What Land Animals Might You See in South Africa?

South Africa is home to a diverse range of wildlife, with many iconic and unique species found in various habitats across the country. Some of the animals you are likely to see in South Africa include:

African Elephant:

South Africa is home to both African bush elephants and African forest elephants, which can be found in national parks and wildlife reserves.

Global population: 415,000

Recommended: Addo Elephant Park

African Lion:

Lions are one of the most famous animals in Africa, and South Africa is home to several lion populations, particularly in national parks.

Global population: Extinct in 15 African countries

Recommended: Manyoni Private Game Reserve

African Leopard:

Leopards are known for their elusive nature, but they can be found in some of South Africa’s national parks, including Table Mountain National Park.

Global population: Vulnerable

Recommended: Mapungubwe National Park

African Buffalo:

African buffalo, also known as Cape buffalo, are large herbivores that can be found in South Africa’s national parks and game reserves, often forming large herds.

Global population: 900,000 (estimated)

Recommended: Greater Kruger National Park

African Rhinoceros:

Both the white rhinoceros and the critically endangered black rhinoceros can be found in South Africa, particularly in protected areas.

Global population: Down 97% since 1960

Recommended: Hluhluwe iMfolozie Park

African Giraffe:

Giraffes are known for their distinctive long necks and can be found in some of South Africa’s national parks.

Global population: 68,000

Recommended: Pilansberg National Park


Cheetahs, known for their speed and agility, can be found in some of South Africa’s game reserves and conservation areas.

Global population: 6,600 (in the wild)

Recommended: Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre

African Wild Dog:

Also known as painted dogs, African wild dogs are known for their unique coats and social behaviour. They can be found in some protected areas in South Africa, though they are considered endangered and relatively rare.

Global population: 6,600

Recommended: Madikwe Reserve


Hippos can be found in rivers, lakes, and dams in South Africa.

Global population: Found in 30 African countries

Recommended: Pongola Game Reserve

Various antelope species:

South Africa is home to numerous antelope species, including impalas, springboks, kudus, and wildebeests, which can be found in various habitats such as savannas, grasslands, and forests.

Recommended: Most main reserves.

It’s important to note that wildlife sightings can never be guaranteed as animals in the wild are free to roam and can be influenced by various factors, including weather, season, and habitat conditions. However, South Africa is known for its diverse and abundant wildlife, making it a popular destination for wildlife enthusiasts and nature lovers.

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