The bushveld and savannah regions are home to many of the large animals typically associated with the African continent. The “Big Five”, the lion, the African elephant, the Cape buffalo, the leopard and the rhinoceros inhabit many parks and reserves.
Predators and Carnivores
Grazers and Browsers
A large and powerful bovine, the African Buffalo reaches shoulder heights of up to 1.5 m and a mass of 750 kg. Both sexes have horns, those of bulls characterised by a heavy boss and upward curved.
The Aardvark has a body length of 110 cm and a shoulder height of 60 cm, and the tail is 60-70 cm long. The skin is pinkish-gray or grayish-brown with coarse, yellowish hair. The diet of the Aardvark consists of termites
The colour of an Aardwolf varies from yellow-brown to dull yellow, with ± 5 distinct vertical black stripes on the flanks and some on the legs. The Aardwolf has a long dark tipped mane on the back which bristles when the animal is frightened.
The colour of African Civet is whitish-grey with indistinct spots on the front quarters and regular black spots, which merge to stripes, on the hindquarters. There is a black stripe down the back starting from between the ears.
African Giant Rat
The African Giant Rat has a long tail, which is bare with a white tip. The body is covered with a buffy-grey, relatively long fur whereas the underparts are slightly paler. The African Giant Rat is an omnivorous rodent
African Wild Cat
A slender built animal resembling the grey housecat. The colour of African Wild Cat varies from grey to dark grey with ± 6 reddish to blackish-red vertical stripes on the flanks and some on the legs. In some cases these stripes are very faint.
Ansorgis Free-Tailed Bat
Like all so-called ‘free-tailed’ bats, the distal portion of the tail of the Ansorgis Free-Tailed Bat is not encased in the interfemoral membrane, and thus presents as a protrusion above the flying membrane.
Most of Africa’s herbivores can be classified as either grazer of grass or browsers of leaves off trees. Learn more and find out where to see Antelopes in the Kruger Park.
The Banana Bat is a tiny bat which is 77 mm long and weighs 4.0 grams. The dense fur on the back can be various shades of brown, whereas the undersides are always of a lighter shade than the dorsal colouration.
The Banded Mongoose is usually seen in troops and is unmistakable as a result of the distinct banding across its back. The overall colour is grizzled- or dark brownish-grey and the bands are dirty whitish.
The Bat-Eared Fox has a shoulder height of only 30cm, a length of about 75cm and weighs less than 5 kilograms. It has a beautiful silver-gray fluffy coat with a black-tipped bushy tail.
The adult Black Backed Jackal is brownish black all over, except for a white spot above and below the eye. The centre of the chest and throat are white, with a broad black median streak. The eyes are brilliant yellow.
This species is very secretive in nature, which makes it difficult to census. The Black-Footed Cat is nevertheless considered rare. Except for the very short period during which mating occurs, black-footed cats prefer a solitary existence.
Bulls weigh up to 1 200 Kg and cows about 800 Kg. As such the Black Rhino is smaller than the White Rhino. It can further be distinguished from the White (or square-lipped) Rhino by the pointed upper.
Blue Wildebeest are characterised by a long black mane and a beard of hair hanging from the throat and neck. Both sexes grow short curved horns. Bulls weigh 250 kg and measures 1.5 m at the shoulders.
Body stripes of the Burchells Zebra are less numerous and broader than that of the Cape Mountain Zebra, whereas body stripes extend around the belly. Leg striping is less prominent. Measures 1.3 to 1.4 metres at the shoulder and weighs 300-320 Kg.
The Bush Pig is a strong, stocky pig with powerful forequarters. Its upper tusks are barely visible, but the lower tusks are razor sharp and grow to 7cm in length. It is very dangerous when surprised in the bush.
The Lesser Bushbaby, known to scientists as Galago moholi, is a small, tree-dwelling primate active by night. The coat of this species is brownish grey to light brown. They are capable of leaps of remarkable distance between trees.
Bushbuck are mainly browsers, but on rare occasions will consume grass. In height they are 700mm at the shoulders, and have a maximum mass of 54 Kg. Ewes are smaller and adult ewes are lighter in colour than rams.
Cape Clawless Otter
The Cape Clawless Otter is larger than the only other species which occurs in southern Africa, the Spotted-Necked Otter. It is long-necked, sleek-furred and short-legged with a long, flattened but pointed-tipped tail which it uses as a rudder.
The female Cape Hare is slightly larger than the male. The mass varies from 1.5 – 2.5 kg. The fur is pale brownish-grey. The long ears and black-and-white tail is most obvious in flight. The Cape Hare is widespread and abundant.
Caracal have short, sleek fur which is more or less grizzled-rufous. The Caracal is a mostly nocturnal, secretive, solitary, and an aggressive animal.
The Chacma Baboon is a large primate with a dog-like face and large, prominent canines. A mature male measures 1.5 m from head to tail and weighs up to 33 kg.
The Cheetah must surely be the most elegant of the large cats. It cannot fully sheathe its claws. The belly, chin and throat are white, with smaller black spots on the chest.
The Civet is solitary, except when breeding. It has short, dense fur that is a greyish colour, with black spots arranged in rows along their bodies. The African Civet is solitary, except when breeding.
The Common Duiker is a tiny, shy antelope with only the males having short horns. The common name refers to a characteristic habit of taking off at high speed in a series of diving jumps when alarmed.
The Dwarf Mongoose is the smallest of the mongoose family, and both males and females weigh only 350-400 gr. Total length is 250 mm and the tail is about the same length as the body.
The Eland is a browser, utilizing a wide diversity of plant species. Males can grow to a shoulder height of 1,7 metres and weigh about 900 Kg. The Eland is a browser.
The Elephant is the world’s largest land mammal, and weighs up to seven tonnes and reaches heights of 3.3 m at the shoulder. Elephants can live to a potential age of 70 years.
Giraffe are the tallest animals in the world, standing at a height of a double-decker bus. Their exceptionally long necks and legs enable them to reach the tips of high trees.
Greater Cane Rat
The Greater Cane Rat is closer related to the porcupine than to veld rats. The spiny fur on the back and rounded nose distinguish this animal from true rats. A mature animal reaches a length of about 720 mm.
Lichtensteins Hartebeest are large antelope with humped shoulders, sloping back and elongated head. Cows can weigh 180 Kg and adult bulls over 200 Kg. Their body colour is a light tawny. They prefer an open habitat.
Hedgehogs are small insectivores, characterised by their pointed faces and short, sharp spines covering the flanks and back as protection against predators. Their head and body length is 200mm.
The Hippopotamus is a massive, semi-aquatic mammal with a mass of up to 2, 5 tons. The Hippopotamus is typically a slate brown colour to muddy brown. The Hippopotamus is strictly a vegetarian.
The Honey Badger is unmistakable with its silvery-grey saddle which runs from above the eyes to the base of the tail, which contrasts with the black lower parts of the body.
The Impala is the most common antelope of the bushveld regions of South Africa. A very graceful, rufous-fawn antelope, with white underparts, measuring approximately 900mm at the shoulders.
The Klipspringer is a small antelope with a thick spiny coat providing protection against injury when it bumps against the rocks. The colour varies from yellow to grey-brown to dull grey.
The Kudu is a large, elegant antelope with impressive horns and white stripes on the flanks. The female Kudu has prominent ears. The male becomes darker against the neck when the hair falls out.
The Large-Spotted Genet has a shoulder height of 210 mm, but this species is short legged. The elongated body has a length of 460 mm and a mass of 1.6 kg.
Leopards have black spots arranged in rosettes, contrasted on a yellow-golden background. Leopards have single black spots on their limbs and head. Their tails are white-tipped on the underside.
Lesser Yellow House Bat
As implied by the popular name, the Lesser Yellow House Bat is similar in general appearance to its sister species, but is slightly smaller and leaner with a total head-to-tail length of 120 mm.
Internationally a symbol of power and royalty, the Lion is Africa’s largest, but also laziest carnivore. A male Lion is 1.2 m tall at the shoulders and has a mass of up to 200 Kg and more.
Males are larger than females, males have a mass of 7 to 9 Kg and females 4 to 5 Kg. The tail of a Monkey is a third longer than the body. Possibly the most widespread Monkey in Africa is the Vervet Monkey.
A medium sized antelope with a long hairy coat. The colour of Mountain Reedbuck varies from grey to reddish-brown and the neck is always brown. The belly is white, the tail bushy with white underneath.
The Nyala male’s handsome slate-brown shaggy coat is marked with white vertical stripes and spots on the flanks. Rams appear more charcoal-grey in colour.
A small antelope with light rust-brown colouring, white throat and belly. The horns of Oribi are straight but bend slightly forward towards the tips. Next to the nostrils and above the eyes there are white spots.
The Pangolin measures over 1 m in length and weighs up to 18 Kg. The body is protected by armour of imbricated brown scales, which uniquely identifies this species amongst all mammals.
The Porcupine is the largest rodent in the region. The body is covered with quills, spines and flattened black bristles. The quills are white with black rings and are about 30 cm long.
Reedbuck weigh up to 70 Kg and rams have a 950mm shoulder height. Ewes are smaller and only measure 800 mm at the shoulders and weigh about 51 Kg.
The body colour of Roan antelope is fawn, with the lower parts of the legs dark brown to black. The distinctive black and white facial markings are characteristic features of this species.
The Rock Dassie now known as Rock Hyrax, is about as large as a big rabbit, which haunts rock outcrops, hillocks and mountain cliffs. They like basking in the sun on large rocks.
Rock Elephant Shrew
The total body of the Rock Elephant Shrew measures 260 mm and the tail is longer than the head and body length. Weighs about 60 grams. The Rock Elephant Shrew feeds on small insects.
This is a large and handsome antelope. Sable are characterised by glossy black coats with white under parts and white facial markings. Cows and young are dark brown in colour.
The upper parts of the Scrub Hare are a grizzled-grey and the under parts white. They have long ears which are grey in colour, and together with the black-and-white tail these become most visible whilst fleeing.
The Serval is a large, leggy and elegant, tawny-yellow wild cat richly marked with large, rather widely-spaced solid black spots which tend to run in the form of bars along the back.
Sharpes Grysbok is a shy antelope, which is slightly smaller than the Cape Grysbok, and which has a thick-set body and a rich rufous-coloured coat.
Side Striped Jackal
The Side Striped Jackal is a nocturnal, dog-like carnivore, with a head and body length of 650-800 mm and tail length of 300-400 mm. Shoulder height 400- 500 mm, mass 7-12 kg.
Slender Mongoose females attain a mass of 575 gr. and are smaller than males at 715 gr. Colour varies from light brown to dark red-brown depending on the area within its distribution range.
The Small-Spotted-Genet is slightly smaller than the Large-Spotted Genet, and the markings are more distinct black and white and without a rusty tinge. The tail is white tipped.
The Spotted Hyaena is about as big as a large, powerfully built dog, but with a back that slopes fairly sharply from the exceptionally strong shoulders towards the more lightly built hindquarters.
The vernacular name of this creature is misleading, since the Spring Hare is in fact a rodent, and not a hare. The head and body of the Spring Hare measure 400mm with a tail of 440 mm.
Rufous brown to fawn coat with long, broad ears. Steenbok measures 520mm at the shoulders and weigh 11 Kg. Hind quarters and underparts are pure white.
A small black and white striped predator with short legs. The colours of Striped Polecat is black with 4 white stripes originating in a white patch on the head, stretching almost parallel along the back and flanks.
The petite Suni antelope stands only 350mm at the shoulders, and rams weigh only 5 kg. Ewes are slightly larger and weighs 5.4 Kg. Light-brown to chestnut coat, fading slightly at the flanks.
The Thick-Tailed Bushbaby is a nocturnal primate with child-like cries, which gave cause for the English vernacular name. Probably due to its diet and larger body size, this is the most social of all known bushbabies.
The total length of Tree Squirrel is 350 mm, half of which is tail. This species only weighs 200 gram. The coat colour varies throughout the region..
Tsessebe bulls have a mass of 140 Kg and measure 1.2 m at the shoulders, and are slightly larger than cows which weigh approximately 120 Kg. Both sexes grow horns, but those on bulls are heavier.
Vervet Monkeys are highly social animals, and occur in well organised troops, dominated by males. Males have a mass of 6kg and measure 1.1 m in length, whereas females are slightly smaller and weigh only 4kg.
The Warthog is the most commonly seen wild pig of the African Bush. Warthogs are day animals and spend most of their time looking for food. They are normally found in family groups.
With an overall length of 800 to 1000 mm, this is a large and robust mongoose. The Water Mongoose has a mass of between 2.5 to 4.2 kg. Their tails are 300-410 mm long.
The Waterbuck is a big antelope with a characteristic white circle around the tail and a collar of white hair around the neck. The colour of the rest of the body is grey-brown.
The White Rhino is the third largest land mammal. Massive, stocky, and with a reputation of being not quite as aggressive as the Black Rhino. The endangered Rhino are threatened by poachers.
No size difference exists between the sexes, which are physically similar in appearance. Body length of White-Tailed Mongoose measures 1.1 m and the mass is 4.3 kg. The coat is dark-grey in colour.
The Wild Dog is one of Africa’s most endangered mammal species. This carnivore is a member of the dog family, and measures 750mm at the shoulders. Males are slightly larger than females.
There are two species of Zebra in Southern Africa, the Plains or Burchell’s Zebra and the Mountain Zebra