What Animals Can I Expect To See On An African Safari?

What Animals Can I Expect To See On An African Safari?

People who love animals would enjoy seeing them in their natural habitat. And, there’s no better place to go than an African country like South Africa. Africa has more than 1,100 mammals and more than 2,600 bird species. Booking an African safari is the ultimate experience to see what the continent offers. 

Here are some of the animals you can expect to see on a safari in Africa. We’ve grouped them into categories according to their popularity. 

The Big 5 Animals

The Big 5 animals are the biggest attractions during an African safari. The Big 5 include elephants, leopards, lions, buffalo, and rhinoceros. These must-see animals have sinister origins. Game hunters who used to roam the African plains came up with the name “Big Five” since these animals were very difficult to hunt, and bringing one home was a great feat. 

Let’s look at these beautiful and majestic animals in detail. 


Also known as the King of the Jungle, the lion is the most social feline species. Lions live in groups of about 25 members. The lioness hunts for prey between dusk and dawn. However, the males feed first, and the cubs feed on the leftovers. Older male lions have a darker mane. Cubs are born with blue eyes but these change to amber or brown when they are two to three months old. 


Leopards live in more than 25 African countries, including South Africa. These animals have about 9 species but are threatened by poachers for their skin and body parts. Leopards have adapted retinas that make them see seven times better than humans even in the dark. A leopard runs up to 58km/h and possesses incredible agility to climb trees. The female leopards keep their young safe by hiding them in lairs. 

Cape Buffalo

The Cape Buffalo is among the four species of the African Buffalo. Male buffalo weighs twice as much as females. A herd of buffaloes may include thousands of animals. The Cape Buffalo belongs to the Bovine sub-family. These animals are herbivores, chew cud, and are quite aggressive.


Black And White Rhinoceros

Africa is home to black and white rhinos. In Greek, rhinoceros means “nose horn”, a feature of these great animals. The white rhino is the second biggest mammal on land. Its name originates from the Afrikaans word “wyd”, meaning wide, to depict the width of the rhino’s mouth. 


The rhinos face extinction from poachers who kill them for their horns. Fortunately, Welgevonden Game Reserve has an anti-poaching programme to protect this highly endangered species. Mhondoro Safari Lodge and Villa found in this malaria-free game reserve where you can enjoy white rhino tracking accompanied by an experienced ranger.  

African Elephant

The elephant is the largest land mammal in the world. Female elephants give birth to one calf after two years. These animals are vulnerable to poachers who hunt them for their tusks. The matriarch females lead the elephant herds. Male elephants roam alone or in smaller groups of males. 

The Little 5 Animals 

An African safari is not complete without seeing the Big 5 animals. However, you should not miss looking out for the Little 5 animals too. The Little 5 animals of Africa include the buffalo weaver, ant lion, rhinoceros beetle, elephant shrew, and leopard tortoise. Each animal among the little 5 matches with one among the big 5. 

Elephant Shrew

There are about 19 species of elephant shrews in Africa. The female elephant shrew gives birth after 45 to 60 days about three to five times every year. Elephant shrews have extremely long hind legs that allow jumping about three feet in the air. 


These creatures are quite rare but you can spot them in and around Mhondoro Safari Lodge where they hunt for small insects year-round. Look for them when walking on the pathways to the main pool and the suites. 

Ant Lion

Ant lions are about 2,000 species. The name ant lion originates from catching prey including ants and other tiny creatures. Ant lions are predatory in nature and live in tiny craters about two inches deep and three inches wide dug using their abdomens. These creatures pounce on their prey just like lions do. 

Rhinoceros Beetle

The name of this little animal is because of a horn-like feature on its head that gives it a rhino-like appearance. Also called Atlas beetle or Hercules beetle, rhinoceros beetles have more than 300 species. This powerful creature lifts about 850 times its body weight. 

Buffalo Weaver

Africa has three species of buffalo weaver including the white-billed, the red-billed, and the white-headed buffalo weaver. The buffalo weaver makes elaborate nests with an interior having partitions and a thorny exterior to keep away predators. 

Leopard Tortoise

This small creature lives in semi-arid areas. The name leopard tortoise comes from its shell with distinct markings that resemble those of a leopard. A leopard tortoise is the fourth biggest tortoise in the world. Adults may grow to about 43cm and weigh about 18kg. 

Shy Five Animals

Apart from the Big 5 and Little 5 animals of Africa, you should also look out for the Shy Five animals. These animals get their name for being very rare to see. So, catching a glimpse of them is a very rewarding experience. The shy Five animals of Africa include:


These animals live all over the Southern Sahara. The name Aardvark comes from an Afrikaans word that means “earth pigs”. Aardvarks are nocturnal and spend most of their afternoons resting underground in burrows. At night, these creatures come out to look for termites in the forests and grasslands. 


An aardwolf is a nocturnal animal that forages alone. These animals come together when it is the season for mating and rearing their young. In Afrikaans, Aardwolf means “earth wolf”. The animals have dog-like features. Its diet includes termites dug from underground and in the termite mounds. 

Bat-eared Fox

Just like the name, this type of fox has enormous ears like those of a bat. Bat-eared foxes have yellow-brown bodies with pale throats. These animals live in the short grass where there are plenty of beetles and termites.


Also known as a suricate, this tiny carnivorous creature belongs to the mongoose family. The meerkat is the lone member of the genus Suricate. You can find meerkats in the Welgevonden Game Reserve in South Africa, in the Namib desert, and in the Kalahari desert. 


Found across the planet apart from Antarctica, porcupines are large rodents whose back has sharp quills. These slow-moving rodents shake their quills to defend themselves from predators. The quills are loosely attached and grow again after some time. 

South Africa is the best destination when looking for the ultimate Africa safari experience. You should visit Welgevonden Game Reserve and book accommodation at Mhondoro Safari Lodge and Villa. This will give a chance to enjoy various experiences including seeing the Big 5, Little 5, and Shy 5 animals of Africa in their natural habitat.

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