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AFRICAN SAFARI ANIMALS

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THE BIG FIVE ANIMALS

These are the five most sought after animals to see on an African safari. Originally named due to the difficulty to hunt them, these animals are major attractions in wildlife reserves across South and East Africa.

 

We have listed the best places to see each animal on safari next to its name.

Lion

Kruger & Luangwa

The most south-after of all the big cats - hard to think of them as cats - and the king of the African bush, lions hunt on large mammals like zebra, giraffe, buffalo and plains game. 

Hearing the roar of a lion as dusk settles in a nerve tingling experience and sure to alert your senses and heighten your blood pressure - even more so considering their scrap seeking counterparts like hyena and jackal are never too far behind. 

  • Lifespan 10-14 years

  • Speed 50 mph (80kph)

  • Panthera Leo

  • Male 420 lbs (190kg)

  • Female 280 lbs (127kg)

  • Height 3.5 - 4ft

Elephant

Chobe & Jabulani

The largest of all the animals in Africa, a full grown male elephant can weigh as much as 13,000 pounds - no surprise then they have no predators in the bush and tend to move around at such a slow pace they often-times appear as if out of nowhere. 

Elephants are too many the most special of all animals in Africa, sharing a strong sense of family and matriarchy found in humans. 

  • Lifespan 60 - 70 years

  • Speed 25 mph (40kph)

  • Loxodonta

  • Gestation 22 months

  • Weight 13,000lbs (5895kg)

  • Height 10 ft

Rhino

Kruger Park

  • Lifespan 40 - 50 years

  • Speed 30-35 mph

  • Rhinocerotide

  • Gestation 16-18 months

  • Weight 3,000 - 5,000lbs

  • Height 5 - 6 ft

FAMILIAR FAVOURITES

Africa of course is more than The Big Five, the Kruger Park alone has more than 140 large mammal species for you to see when you're on safari. Here's a list of the most popular. 

Giraffe

Giraffe Manor

You could not think up an animal that looks like a giraffe, it's something out of a fantasy children's book. Who would make an animal coloured like a leopard, with such a long neck and eye lashes a super model would snatch in a heartbeat!

Everyone loves spotting giraffe in the wild and the best place to see them is at Giraffe Manor in Kenya, but you'd better book way in advance because it's one of Africa's most popular lodges. 

  • Lifespan 25 years

  • Speed 37 mph (60kph)

  • Giraffa

  • Gestation 15 months

  • Weight 1,800 lbs (815kg)

  • Height 15-20ft

Zebra

Serengeti & Mara

Who doesn't like a good Marty, I mean zebra? Did you know that each zebra's coat is unique, like a fingerprint. And I'm not going to start the discussion of "is it black on white or white on black?"

If you want to see large herds of zebra then head to the Serengeti in Tanzania and Masai Mara in Kenya where you'll see all the zebra your heart desires over the far stretching plains. 

  • Lifespan 20 - 30 years

  • Speed 40 mph (65kph)

  • Equus quagga

  • Gestation 12-13 months

  • Weight 600-800lbs

  • Height 5-7 ft

Hippo

Kruger & Okavango

The big bully of the African waterways and Africa's most dangerous animal is of course the hippo. This fiercely territorial animal is both temperamental and aggressive, two bad traits in an animal of its size when add combine its large teeth and strong jaws to the equation.

 

The best place to see hippo in Africa is in The Kruger Park of South Africa and the waterways of the Okavango Delta in Botswana, were boating and mokoro safaris can get you up as close as is safe to not upset these sensitive animals. 

  • Lifespan 40 - 50 years

  • Speed 19 mph

  • Hippopotamus

  • Gestation 8 months

  • Weight 3,000 - 4,000lbs

  • Height 5 ft

Cheetah

Masai Mara & Savute

The fastest of all land animals with speeds of up to 75mph in short bursts, no wonder the cheetah always looks like it's got tears running down its face. 

This majestic cat is a skilled hunter and the best place to see cheetah in Africa is on the plains of the Masai Mara or in the reserves of the Savute in Botswana.

  • Lifespan 10-12 years

  • Speed 65 - 75mph

  • Acinonyx jubatus

  • Gestation 3-4 months

  • Weight 50-160lbs

  • Height 2-3 ft

Wildebeest

Serengeti

No place on earth has more wildebeest than the Serengeti in Tanzania, home of the Great Animal Migration and the best place in Africa to see over 1,7 million wildebeest. 

It truly is a sight to behold watching a 290 pound animal run in herds of thousands at speeds around 50mph, you don't want to get in the way of that stampede, but you do want to see it!

  • Lifespan 20 years

  • Speed 50 mph

  • Connochaetes

  • Gestation 8-9 months

  • Weight 290lbs

  • Height 4-5ft

RESOURCES

The sites below were used to reference facts like height, weight, gestation periods etc for the animals listed on this page you're most likely to see on your African safari.