Mammals of South Africa

Seeing a wildlife film engages your intellect, watching animals interact with each other from a comfortable vehicle activates the photographer in you, but coming across a leopard makes you feel like prey…

Learning about the mammals of South Africa gives you an insight into the animals behaviour. And learning about the mammals of South Africa is now so much easier for all South Africans - SouthAfrica.co.za is an excellent source of information in all 11 official languages of the country.

Aardvark

Aardvarks are equipped with muscular, short legs covered with long dark fur. They have strong, powerful nailed claws that are ideal for digging and walking through the bush in South Africa....more

Aardwolf

The aardwolf is native to South Africa and throughout Eastern and Southern Africa. The aardwolf enjoys wide, open, dry spaces among savanna and grassland. The aardwolf population is split into two populations....more

African Buffalo

The African buffalo can be found in South Africa. This large wild bovine reaches up to 1.5 meters in shoulder height and can weigh up to 750 kg. While both sexes have horns...more

African Elephant

African elephant or African bush elephant (loxodonta africana). With a weight on 7 tonnes and a height that can reach 3.3 m to the shoulder, the elephant is the largest land animal in the world....more

African Rhino

Armoured with strong hides and a menacing horn, the African rhinoceros can graze undeterred alongside resting lions in the bushveld of South Africa. They are characterised for the great horns...more

African Weasel

The African weasel is a carnivore and prefers to eat prey that lay close to the ground. Prey includes small rodents, small birds and sometimes insects found in South Africa....more

African Wild Cat

The African wildcat prefers to feed on small rodents such as mice and rats but will opt for other food sources in times of scarcity. They are known to also eat hare, rabbits, small...more

Baboon

Baboons generally inhabit mountainous areas around South Africa. You can also find them in woodlands, semi-desert areas and sub alpine meadows found along the Drakensberg Mountains...more

Banded Mongoose

The banded mongoose is limited to woodland savannah areas found in South Africa. These environments can be found from KwaZulu Natal’s coastal area right up to the...more

Bat-eared Fox

The tiny teeth of the bat-eared fox limit them to a diet of fruit, small rodents and insects found in South Africa....more

Black Backed Jackal

The breeding season of the black-backed jackal occurs between July to October in South Africa. After a gestation period of 2 months, a litter of around 1-6 pups (rarely 9) are born....more

Black Rhino

There are four subspecies in Africa namely the southern central black rhino (Diceros bicornis minor); eastern black rhino (Diceros bicornis michaeli);...more

Black Wildebeest

The black wildebeest is endemic to South Africa, historically having inhabited the open grasslands of the Northern Cape, Free State, southern Highveld regions,...more

Blesbok

The blesbok and bontebok are closely related. Historically, the bontebok and blesbok inhabited different areas of land in South Africa, however interbreeding has occurred between the two subspecies....more

Blue Duiker

The blue duiker consumes fresh leaves and flowers, and fruits dropped from the forest canopy....more

Blue Wildebeest

The blue wildebeest is distributed in large parts of Southern Africa, but is concentrated to the northeastern regions of South Africa. Population numbers are drastically decreased...more

Bontebok

The bontebok is a seasonal breeder, the rut occurring between January and mid-March. After a gestation period of 238 to 254 days, single calves are born in South Africa during September and October....more

Brown Hyena

brown hyena is primarily a scavenger. The brown hyena will occasionally kill smaller animals, should it not find a kill to scavenge off. Their jaws and teeth have adapted to break open large bones to easily...more

Burchells Zebra

The Burchell’s zebra prefers savanna woodland and grassland plains as its habitat in South Africa and avoids areas of dense vegetation. Being very dependent on water, it never wanders further than ten to...more

Bush Pig

Bush pigs prefer dense forests and underbrush along rivers and streams. They can be found at the foot of mountains in South Africa in the Eastern Cape, Kwazulu-Natal, Mpumalanga and the Northern Cape...more

Bushbaby

Being a South African species, the lesser bushbaby has a high tolerance of temperature variation. It prefers savannas, woodlands, the fringes of the forest and riverine bush as its habitat...more

Bushbuck

The bushbuck is closely related to the nyala and the kudu. Rams are graceful in appearance with a dark greyish-brown fur, white spots on the flanks and white socks. They measure 700mm at the shoulders...more

Cape Fox

The Cape fox is the smallest canid and only true fox found in South Africa. Adults measure about 35 cm at the shoulder, are 94 cm in length and weigh only 2.5 to 3 kg. Its coat is silver-grey in colour and it has large,...more

Cape Ground Squirrel

The Cape ground squirrel is a rodent endemic to South Africa. It has a coarse, cinnamon coloured coat with a white stripe running down either side of its body. Its white underparts and fluffy, fan-like tail have white...more

Cape Grysbok

The Cape grysbok is found in South Africa in the mountain valleys and shrubby plains of the Western and Eastern Cape. It is endemic to the Fynbos Biome....more

Cape Hare

The Cape hare is abundant and widely distributed throughout South Africa’s arid regions, and is also found in Botswana and the central areas of Namibia....more

Cape Mountain Zebra

The South African government thereby established the Mountain Zebra National Park, despite strong opposition....more

Cape Otter

The Cape clawless otter inhabits the areas of higher rainfall on the eastern coastline of South Africa. It is an uncommon animal, and entirely absent from the drier and arid regions of the country....more

Caracal

The caracal can be found throughout South Africa in rocky, hilly terrains and open woodland savannas....more

Chacma Baboon

After a gestation period of about 140 days, a single young is born. Having no specific breeding season, female chacma baboons can give birth throughout the year in South Africa....more

Cheetah

Having no specific breeding season, the cheetah female can give birth throughout the year in South Africa. After a gestation period of three months, 1 - 5 cubs weighing about 272 g are born to a litter....more

Civet

The African civet measures about 680 to 890 mm in head and body length, and has a 445 to 463 mm long tail. Its mass varies from 7 to 20 kg....more

Common Duiker

The name ‘duiker’ comes from the Afrikaans word meaning ‘to dive’, describing this antelope’s manner of ducking and dodging into the bushes when alarmed....more

Dwarf Mongoose

The common dwarf mongoose feeds on invertebrates such as grasshoppers, termites, beetles and their larvae which they scavenge and dig from the ground....more

Eland

Despite its size and heavy physique the eland is an agile animal, and large bulls can jump over fences easily. Both sexes carry heavy horns...more

Gemsbok

The gemsbok can be found in the desert regions of Southern Africa, such as the Kalahari, the Namib desert, the Gemsbok National Park as well as in reserves and on private land....more

Giraffe

The giraffe is the tallest land animal in the world. Males can reach a height of 5 m, and females 4.5 m. Their extremely long necks are partly what makes them this tall...more

Hartmann's Mountain Zebra

The Hartmann’s mountain zebra is slightly larger in size with wider stripes than the Cape mountain zebra found in South Africa. Hartmann’s mountain zebra males weigh an average of 298 kg, while females...more

Hedgehog

The breeding season for the hedgehog in South Africa is between the months of October and April. The hedgehog rear their young in small burrows or nests covered with leaves or any debris found in their habitat....more

Hippo

Hippos are known to readily attack when they are wounded or threatened in the wild. They are considered to be the most dangerous animal in South Africa and responsible for many human deaths and injuries....more

Honey Badger

The honey badger can breed all year round, producing 1 or 2 offspring at a time. Research done in the southern Kalahari Desert in South Africa has found that cubs become independent from their mothers after 14 months....more

Impala

Known for their glorious leaps over the bushveld plains of South Africa, the impala are sociable animals that live in large herds. Two types of herds exist within the impala populations, which......more

Klipspringer

The klipspringer of South Africa weighs 11-13 kg and stands 500-600 mm high at the shoulder. This antelope has a small, and stocky build, with round ears placed at the far back of the head that have prominent ......more

Kudu

The kudu is a browser and feeds on a variety of leaves of trees and shrubs indigenous to South Africa. It also feeds on various fruits, pods, forbs and creepers during different seasons....more

Large-Spotted Genet

The large-spotted genet of South Africa is short legged with retractable claws for climbing. They have a brown-tan coat covered in rows of rusty-coloured spots enclosed in black rings with a white underbelly....more

Leopard

Leopards are very territorial and males will defend large territories which include those of females. The female leopard also defends her territories from other females....more

Lesser Bushbaby

The lesser bushbaby occurs in South Africa in Limpopo and Mpumalanga, as well as in Botswana. As they are reliant on trees, their habitats are restricted to savannah woodlands, particularly woodlands of ......more

Lion

Lionesses usually hunt as a pack for the pride. Lions prey on large animals such as the wildebeest, zebra, gemsbok, buffalo and even giraffe....more

Meerkat

Meerkats are very swift animals, enabling them to catch geckos, snakes, small rodents and insects as their prey. When pregnant or lactating, females forage more than other group members...more

Monkey

Monkeys are popular amongst guests on safari, providing great entertainment in their naughty and almost human-like ways. However, they can become big nuisances with food as they tend to raid kitchens...more

Mountain Ground Squirrel

The mountain ground squirrel prefers arid environments as its habitat. In South Africa, the mountain ground squirrel can be found in a small area of the Northern Province bordering Namibia....more

Mountain Reedbuck

The mountain reedbuck prefers the mountainous areas of South Africa as its habitat. It rests in the mountain shade, feeds on the slopes and blends in with the bushes....more

Nyala

Nyalas are found in many game reserves and private farms throughout South Africa as a result of translocation, many living in the Kruger National Park....more

Oribi

In South Africa, the oribi can be found in northern parts of the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga. Smaller populations live in the northeastern Free State and Swaziland....more

Oryx

The oryx can be found throughout South Africa in game reserves and national parks. They have been successfully reintroduced in areas where they had previously become extinct....more

Pangolin

Pangolins can be found in South Africa in northern KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, Limpopo and parts of North West. It can also be found in Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Botswana and Namibia....more

Porcupine

African porcupines are largely herbivorous, digging out bulbs, roots and tubers with their strong claws. They also feed on fallen fruit and bark and have been reported to eat carrion at times....more

Red Hartebeest

There are 12 subspecies of hartebeest in Africa, the red hartebeest being the only occurring in South Africa. It is more widely distributed today due to its reintroduction on game farms and in nature reserves....more

Reedbuck

The reedbuck is primarily nocturnal but will feed during the day under harsh climatic conditions. They are grazers and feed on grass and sometimes herbs found in the bushveld of South Africa....more

Rhebuck

The grey rhebuck fall prey to many big predators in South Africa. These include the lion, leopard, hyena, Cape hunting dog, python and jackal....more

Roan

Roan antelope in South Africa do not have a specific breeding season. After a gestation period of around 40 weeks, calves are born and kept hidden in a thick bush....more

Rock Hyrax

As stated by its name, the rock hyrax’s preferred habitat is among rocky areas found throughout South Africa. They are also excellent climbers and can be seen in treetops growing among rocky outcrops....more

Sable

The Sable antelope is a herbivore and feeds mainly on grasses grown in their habitats within South Africa. They prefer to feed on spear grass, red grass and various species of Brachiaria, Urochloa and Panicum....more

Scrub Hare

The preferred habitat of the scrub hare is scrub bushveld, tall grasslands and savannah. They are distributed across South Africa, except forests, coastal desert regions and drier north-western parts of the Northern Cape....more

Serval

Observations show that these stripes at the rear of the ears are used to communicate with its species. The all-black melanistic servals are found in moist, densely forested areas in South Africa....more

Sharpes Grysbok

The Sharpe’s grysbok is a browser and feeds off shoots and leaves of the shrubs and bushes in South Africa. They are also known to eat grass shoots, fruit and flowers....more

Side-striped Jackal

The mating season for the side-striped jackal occurs during June and July in South Africa. However, some do mate throughout the year. The gestation period for the side-striped jackal is between 57-64 days....more

Slender Mongoose

In South Africa, the slender mongoose mainly feeds on small rodents in the bushveld. Their diet also consists of reptiles, invertebrates and sometimes birds....more

Small-Spotted Genet

In South Africa, the small-spotted genet produces two litters per year. Litters comprise of between two to three young with a gestation period of between 70-77 days....more

Spotted Hyena

Some experts believe that the spotted hyena is the most successful carnivore in South Africa. Studies have disproved its assumed cowardly nature by establishing the spotted hyena as an efficient and strong hunter....more

Springbok

The springbok prefers grass savanna, dry river beds, and calcareous pans as their habitat in South Africa, avoiding tall grass. They tend to live in harsh and unpredictable areas....more

Springhare

The springhare is widely distributed within South Africa, apart from in desert and forest regions. They prefer flat, semi-arid to arid areas....more

Steenbok

During her visits, she eats her young’s dung and drinks its urine to eliminate odours that make it detectable to predators. The breeding period of the steenbok in South Africa has not been clearly defined....more

Thick-Tailed Bushbaby

Thick-tailed bushbaby prefers open woodlands or savannas as their habitat and can be found in the northeastern parts of South Africa....more

Tree Squirrel

The most common tree squirrel in South Africa is the Smith’s bush squirrel or yellow-footed squirrel. They are skilled at detecting threats such as snakes and leopards, and are notorious for their incessant chattering...more

Tsessebe

Tsessebe can be found in South Africa in the northern savanna woodlands, yet most populate the Kruger National Park and a few provincial game reserves....more

Vervet Monkey

Living mostly at the edges of forests, the vervet monkey occurs in a variety of environments in South Africa including dense, tall trees and ones that have permanent surface water....more

Warthog

Warthogs are diurnal, spending most of their days foraging for food in a limited area. When feeding, they kneel on their front knees....more

Waterbuck

The waterbuck can be found in South Africa along the main drainage systems of Mpumalanga, Limpopo and northern KwaZulu-Natal. Recently, they have been reintroduced at Ithala and St Lucia game reserves....more

White Rhino

The white rhino is the world’s third largest land mammal. Bulls measure 1.8 m at the shoulders with a mass of up to 2000 kg, and cows can weigh 1800 kg. They are huge, robust and not as aggressive in temperament...more

White-Tailed Mongoose

The white-tailed mongoose of South Africa is mainly insectivorous, but is also known to also eat amphibians, snakes and small rodents found in the bushveld....more

Wild Dog

Wild dogs hunt in packs and they will strategically chase down their prey until it is exhausted. Once caught the pack will tear their prey apart and devour it immediately....more

Wildebeest

The populations of wildebeest have decreased due to the limitations imposed on their natural migration routes through Africa by fencing. They are not considered endangered, but they mainly inhabit conservation area...more

Zebra

Two species of zebra dominate the wild plains of South Africa. They are the Plains or Burchell’s zebra and the mountain zebra. The different species inhabit different locations, as their name indicates....more