Species Guide

The Animal Species of Africa

  • Mammals
  • Birds
  • Reptiles and Amphibians
  • Insects & arthropods

Species A to Z

African Wild Dog (Lycaon pictus)

Africa’s largest canid, the african wild dog is characterised by markings of brown, yellow and white blotches.

Baboon (Papio ursinius): 

There are four sub-species that occur in Africa. The Olive baboon is one of the most common species in East Africa.

Bat-eared fox (Otocyon megalotis)

The bat-eared fox’s most definitive feature are its large spoon-like ears (from which it gets its name). The body is a dirty-brown colour and the legs are black.

Buffalo (Syncerus caffer)

Unmistakable as the only wild cattle species in Africa. Males are larger than females with both sexes having horns.

Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus)

The fastest animal on land the cheetah is built for speed, with long legs, non-retractable claws and a rudder-shaped tail for control!


Crocodiles are the largest reptiles in Africa and are found in many of the major waterways of the continent.


Dragonflies and damselflies belong to the order Odonata and are charachterised by having large compound eyes and long, slender abdomens.

Eland (Tragelaphus oryx)

Unmistakable as the largest antelope, the eland is tawny in colour and the males have a large dewlap on the throat. Both sexes have short, spiralled horns

Elephant (Loxodonta Africana)

Unmistakable, the elephant is one of the signature animals of Africa, and considered one of the most intelligent animals on earth.

Gerenuk (Litocranius walleri)

One of the most charachteristic antelope of East Africa with long legs and long neck. The gerenuk is also called the “giraffe antelope”.

Giraffe (Giraffe camelopardarlis sp)

The tallest animal in Africa with a long neck and long legs, the giraffe is unmistakable. The giraffe of Africa are classified into eight subspecies taken from the patterning and the secluded distribution of the animals.

Hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibius)

Unmistakable large mammal which inhabits the waterways of Africa.

Spotted Hyena (Crocuta crocuta)

The most common of the hyenas with dark brown spots on a yellow-brown coat. The back slopes from the head to the low-slung rump.

Impala (Aepyceros melampus)

It is a tawny, sleek and elegant creature living in herds varying in size but the beauty is often overlooked due to its abundance.

Jackal black backed (Canis mesomelas)

The size and shape of a medium-sized domestic dog it is the most common of the jackals of Africa. Also called the silver-backed jackal due to the silver sheen on the top of its body.

Klipspringer (Oreotragus oreotragus)

A small sure-footed antelope found in rocky hill areas of Africa where it moves about on the tips of its hoofs. Colouration varies from yellowish-grey to grey-brown.

Kudu (Tragelaphus strepsiceros)

Characteristic antelope with tawny coat and whites stripes down the body. The males have dramatic, long spiralled horns

Lechwe (Kobus leche)

Medium-sized antelope with hindquarters which are considerably higher than their forequarters. They have chestnut upper parts and flanks, and white on the under sides.

Leopard (Panthera pardus)

A powerfully built, tawny-yellow, cat with black rosette markings on its body and black spots on its legs. Although common, the leopard is a very elusive creature.

Lion (Panthera leo)

One of the iconic animals of Africa. Males are larger than females with manes ranging in colour from light to black.


Commonly known as the praying mantids they are an unmistakeable insect and one of the more commonly known groups.

Mongoose dwarf (Helogale parvula)

The smallest and one of the few social mongoose it is a uniform reddish brown-colour. Due to its group social behaviour it is one of the more commonly seen mongoose species.

Vervet Monkey (Cercopithecus aethiops)

A small black-faced monkey varying in colour from dull olive to grey. The black face is conspicuous and the slightly larger males have a charachteristic blue scrotum.

Nyala (Tragelaphus angasi)

Male and female are very different with male larger and darker in colour than red-rusty female and male has spiraled horns. Both have white stripes down body.

Oryx (Oryx gazella)

Large black and white antelope of the arid areas of Africa with both sexes having long rapier-like horns. Commonly called gemsbok in southern Africa.

Ostrich (Struthio camelus)

The ostrich is the only species in its family, although the east African or Masai ostrich is sub-classified. The ostrich is found throughout Africa and parts of the middle east.

Black Rhino (Diceros bicornis)

Also known as the hook-lipped rhino due to its prehensile upper lip there is in fact no difference in colour to the white rhino. It is considered the more aggressive of the two species and is the original member of the big five among the rhino’s.

Rhino White (Ceratotherium simum)

Larger, and arguably more placid, than the black rhino but not too different in colour. The name ‘white’ stems from the Dutch word for wide ‘weit’.

Sable Antelope (Hippotragus niger)

The sable is also one of the most beautiful African antelope. Males are jet black on body and females are reddish-brown with both having a white underbelly.

Serval (Leptailurus serval)

A beautiful cat with yellowy-brown body with black markings of spots, splotches and bars and a black-tipped tail.



Springbok (Antidorcas marsupialis)

The only gazelle species occurring in southern Africa. Tawny upperparts with a white belly and a brown stripe bordering the white.

Steenbok (Raphicerus campestris)

A small rufous coloured antelope with white underparts charachterised by large rounded ears and the male having short, sharp horns.

Suricate (Suricata suricatta)

Of the mongoose family and also known as the meerkat it is one of the most endearing animals of Africa. The suricate has a long tail that is held rigidly up when running.


Termites build the charachteristic mounds that are commonly seen in the African wilderness and other parts of the world.

Tsessebe (Damaliscus lunatus)

Known as the Topi in East Africa. Although the topi and the tsessebe are classified as the same species there are a few cosmetic differences.


One of the signature birds of the African plains, they are associated with kills and carcasses as they are usually seen soaring to the ground or sitting in trees waiting for predators to finish feeding. There are eight species of vultures in Africa.

Warthog (Phacochoerus africanus)

The animal gets its name from the warty protrusions on either side of the face of which the male has two on either side and the female one.

Waterbuck (Kobus ellipsiprymnus)

Rugged and robust animals with conspicuous white rings on rear ends. defassa waterbuck (one of the two sub-species) have a solid white patch on their rump. Only the males carry the long forward-swept horns.

Blue Wildebeeste (Connochaetes taurinus)

Three sub-species occur and is probably the most abundant antelope in Africa with millions migrating across the plains of east Africa.

Zebra (Equus burchelli)

Characteristic horse of the African plains, the Burchell’s Zebra is the only zebra species where the black stripes extend onto the stomach.