The Five Animals of South Africa

african animal

South Africa is home to some of the most unique and interesting animals in the world. From the massive elephants to the sleek and speedy cheetahs, there is an animal for everyone in South Africa. Here are five of the most popular animals found in this beautiful country.

The Hippopotamus

One of the first animals that come to mind when thinking of Africa is the hippopotamus. These massive creatures can weigh up to 3,300 pounds and can be up to 16 feet long. They spend most of their time in rivers and lakes where they stay cool and wet since they cannot sweat. Even though they are vegetarian, they are still extremely dangerous and are responsible for around 500 human deaths each year.

The Cheetah

The cheetah is the fastest land animal on Earth, capable of reaching speeds up to 70 miles per hour. They have a lean body, long legs, and a tail that helps them balance as they run. Cheetahs are built for speed and not for endurance which is why they can only sustain their high speeds for a minute or two before they need a rest. These beautiful animals are unfortunately endangered due to habitat loss, conflict with humans, and hunting for their fur.

The Elephant

Elephants are another animal that is synonymous with Africa. These gentle giants are the largest living terrestrial animals on Earth weighing in at around 16,000 pounds on average. They also have the longest gestation period of any mammal, carrying their young for 22 months before giving birth. Elephants are very social creatures and live in herds led by a matriarch which usually consists of her daughters, granddaughters, and great-granddaughters.

The Rhino

There are two species of rhinos found in Africa, the black rhino and the white rhino. Despite their name, both rhinos are actually grayish in color. White rhinos are actually the largest land mammal after elephants weighing in at around 5,000-6,000 pounds. Black rhinos are much smaller only reaching around 1,800-2,700 pounds on average. Both species of rhinos have horns made from keratin which is the same protein found in human hair and nails. Rhinos are unfortunately another endangered species due to habitat loss and poaching for their horns which some cultures believe have medicinal properties even though there is no scientific evidence to support this claim.

The Lion

Arguably one of the most iconic animals of Africa is the lion. These large cats can weigh up to 550 pounds and live for 10-14 years in the wild (up to 20 years in captivity). Male lions are easily recognizable by their manes while females do not have manes but tend to be larger than males. Lions are proficient hunters working together in prides consisting of related females and their cubs along with a few unrelated males. Although lions typically avoid humans, there have been instances of them attacking people which usually happens when they feel threatened or if their prey becomes scarce.


South Africa is home to some truly amazing animals with each one being more fascinating than the last. If you’re ever lucky enough to visit this beautiful country be sure to keep your eyes peeled for these five incredible creatures!

Read More: Folk News