Below you can find a complete list of South African animals. We currently track 146 animals in South Africa and are adding more every day!
South Africa is among the richest biodiversity hotspots in all of Africa. Located at the southernmost tip of the continent at the meeting point between the Atlantic and Indian Oceans, the country shares a land border with Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique to the north. It also completely surrounds the tiny kingdom of Lesotho. The interior of South Africa is dominated by the central plateau, while the highly mountainous region known as the Great Escarpment forms the edge of the plateau and then slopes downward in the direction of the oceans.
The Official National (State) Animal of South Africa
The national animal of South Africa is the springbok. This small brown and white antelope has endured as a national symbol in post-apartheid South Africa thanks to the intervention of Nelson Mandela and the country’s tremendous win at the 1995 Rugby World Cup. South Africa also has a national bird, the blue crane, and a national fish, the galjoen.
Where to Find the Top Wild Animals in South Africa
Since its independence, South Africa has established 19 national parks to protect its natural beauty and wildlife. Together they comprise about 3% of the country’s total landmass.
- Kruger National Park, located along the northeastern border with Mozambique, is the oldest and most famous protected area in all of South Africa. It’s also the largest park located entirely within the borders of South Africa. Designated by UNESO as an important biosphere reserve, the park contains some of the most popular African wildlife, including elephants, zebras, rhinos, leopards, cheetahs, lions, hyenas, hippos, and antelopes.
- The Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park encompasses some 15,000 square miles of sparse red sand dunes and dry river beds around the Kalahari Desert. Most of the park is actually located on the other side of the border with Botswana. Visitors who brave the difficult climate can expect to find migratory herds of wildebeests, springboks, and elands, along with their predators such as cheetahs, hyenas, and leopards. There are also more than 200 species of birds, including vultures and eagles.
- The Addo Elephant National Park, located close to Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape, is one of the best places on the entire continent to find these magnificent giants, mixed among the lions, rhinos, and leopards. The park also encompasses St. Croix and Bird Island, where visitors can see cute penguins, whales, and even great white sharks in their natural habitat.
The Most Dangerous Animals in South Africa Today
South Africa contains its fair share of interesting but dangerous wildlife. Of the 100 species of snakes, about a quarter of them are venomous. Many of the world’s largest mammals are also found here.
- Puff Adder – On account of its widespread distribution, toxic venom, and camouflaged coloring, the puff adder is probably responsible for more attacks than any snake in Africa, especially because it’s so often accidentally stepped on. The symptoms of its venom include pain, swelling, and bleeding, but death only occurs in a small number of untreated cases.
- Black Mamba – This brown or olive green snake is actually named for its inky-black mouth, which it opens wide as part of its threat display. It’s a good thing that this snake will only tend to strike when cornered or threatened because if left untreated, the venom is often fatal.
- Hippopotamus – The hippo is responsible for a surprising number of deaths every year, usually as a result of someone accidentally stumbling on its territory. These large and aggressive mammals will take great strides to defend themselves from any perceived threats.
- Nile Crocodile – With its very powerful jaws and sharp teeth, this common freshwater reptile is responsible for more attacks than almost any other crocodile in the world.
- Lions – While they are large and formidable, attacks from lions are very rare; they almost always occur from people wandering alone across the wilderness.
- Rhinoceros – As one of the largest animals with horns, the rhino could easily harm a human, but it will only attack once it feels threatened.
Endangered Animals in South Africa
- Black Rhinoceros – The large and imposing figure of the black rhinoceros, with horns emerging from the head, is one of the great natural sights in all of Africa. But this species is now in critical danger of becoming extinct from habitat loss and (in some countries) being caught in the middle of warfare. As one of the few species with horns, it’s also a target for illegal poachers. Despite strenuous conservation efforts, only a few thousand of them remain, mostly existing in isolated pockets across all of Africa.
- African Bush Elephant – These large, magnificent creatures are now endangered from illegal poaching, habitat loss, diseases, and even conflicts with humans. It is estimated that some 400,000 remain in the wild.
- Riverine Rabbit – Native to a small section of the Karoo Desert, this cute rabbit has suffered greatly from habitat loss. With only about 1,500 remaining, it is in critical danger of becoming extinct.
- Cape Gannet – Sporting black and white plumage and a distinctive yellow crown, this sea bird is native to the coasts of sub-Saharan Africa, but numbers have declined precipitously from their height.
- Cape Vulture – This scavenging bird has become endangered from poisoning, electrocutions, collisions, and loss of natural foraging habitat. It’s estimated that only about 10,000 mature individuals remain in the wild, which places it in danger of becoming extinct.
South African Animals
South African Animals List
- African Bullfrog
- African Clawed Frog
- African Penguin
- Barn Owl
- Black Rhinoceros
- Black Widow Spider
- Brown Hyena
- Bush Baby
- Common Buzzard
- Desert Rain Frog
- Elephant Shrew
- Fallow deer
- Fruit Bat
- Glass Lizard
- Glow Worm
- Golden Oriole
- Green Bee-Eater
- Guinea Fowl
- Honey Badger
- Honey Bee
- Leopard Tortoise
- Monitor Lizard
- Peregrine Falcon
- River Turtle
- Rock Hyrax
- Stick Insect
- Tree Frog
- Vervet Monkey
- Water Buffalo
- White Rhinoceros
- Wolf Spider
Animals in South Africa FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
What kind of animals live in South Africa?
South Africa is home to quite a few mammals, including rodents, moles, shrews, bats, carnivores, elephants, and hoofed animals (like zebras and antelopes). The country is particularly rich in birds, from penguins to eagles. It also has a lot of snakes.
What animals are unique to South Africa?
The cute riverine rabbit, golden moles, Cape elephant shrew, Cape horseshoe bat, and Cape genet are all unique or mostly unique to South Africa.
What dangerous animals live in South Africa?
South Africa is home to venomous snakes, large crocodiles, carnivorous lions, very aggressive hippos, and even some spiders.
How many animals does South Africa have?
South Africa is home to more than 200 species of mammals, 450 species of reptiles, 130 amphibians, and 800 species of birds.