Animals in Kruger National Park: The Ultimate Guide


The Ultimate guide for the animals in the Kruger National Park gives an overview of the animals that you can expect to see. The Kruger National Park is one of the world’s premier game-viewing destinations. The Park has an amazing variety of wildlife and is home to approximately 147 mammal species, including all of the big safari animals.

All of the big cats can be found, and lions in particular are frequently seen in the park’s south. Buffalo and elephant can be seen throughout the park and Kruger’s graceful antelope are always a highlight. Common game includes impala, greater kudu, and waterbuck. Steenbok and common duiker are two elusive species to keep an eye out for.

White rhinos are under threat due to an increase in poaching in recent years, but there is still a chance of seeing one.Despite the recent increase in poaching, Kruger has the world’s largest population of white rhinos, estimated at 8000. Black rhinos are rarer and rarely seen.

The endangered wild dog lives in large groups that roam widely, but it is rarely seen.

There are also a plethora of other smaller mammals from equally appealing species.

Best time for game viewing

The best time to see wildlife in Kruger Park is from June to September, when the vegetation is less dense. Temperatures are higher than in mid-winter, and animals are concentrated around water sources, making for excellent wildlife viewing from August to September.

The best times to see game are at first light and around dusk. Even if you are not a morning person, it is always a good idea to motivate yourself to get up early for a game drive because this is usually the best time of day for predator sightings.

The Big Five- legends of the wilderness

The Big Five are unquestionably the ultimate treasures of the South African bushveld, and both local and international tourists travel from far and wide to see them in their natural habitat.The term “Big Five” still conjures up the romance and excitement of Africa’s exotic destinations and experiences, just as it did during the bygone hunting era.

Many people go on safarimainly to see the “Big Five,” and the Kruger National Park has more than its fair share, with an estimated 1,500 lions, 17,000 elephants, 48,000 buffalo, and 1,000 leopards. It should however not be a requirement or even a priority to see these on any trip, as there are many other fascinating animals and birds in the African bush.

Imagine watching the sun set over the horizon while photographing a pride of lions stalking their prey. Seeing a buffalo strolling to a watering hole with the strength and size that makes it more likely than any other mammal to kill a human.

With its extraordinary horns and bad temper, the rhino is almost extinct. And the leopard, with its beauty, speed, and hunting ability.Lions can be found throughout the park, but they are most commonly found in the grasslands, which are home to Zebra and Wildebeest.Elephants can be found in groups of around 30, and buffalo can be found in herds of up to 200.

The predators of the group are the lion and leopard, which hunt with unrivalled grace and stealth, while the majestic elephant is larger than life, with gleaming tusks and a large trunk. The buffalo is an unruly, unpredictable herbivore that is usually seen with its herd, and the stocky rhino can be found lazily munching on grass near the Kruger Park’s dense trees.

Many visitors consider a trip to South Africa incomplete unless they have seen and photographed the Big Five.

Because they appear on South Africa’s currency, the Big 5 are truly the stars of both the bushveld and the money market.

Daily guidedgame drives and walking safaris run by trained game rangers help guests spot the dignified lion, the great elephant, the stubborn buffalo, the sturdy rhino, and the elusive leopard.

The Little five – unique and elusive

After the marketing success of the Big Five for tourist safaris in Southern Africa the term little five was created by nature conservationists for visitors to also acknowledge the less noticed andsmaller but quite enigmatic animals of the South African savanna (bushveld).

In Africa, the Little Five game consist of the following animals:

Predators and Carnivores

Kruger Park is probably best known for its large predators and carnivores, such as lions, leopards, and cheetahs, as well as dogs (hyaena and wild dogs).

Carnivores have become especially dominant in Africa over the last 3 million years, as climate change has resulted in the development of vast swaths of savanna grassland across the continent. This in turn resulted in the arrival of many new animal species, particularly large herds of grazers that relied on their numbers for safety rather than their ability to hide from predators.

Lions, hyaenas, leopards, cheetahs, and wild dogs are the dominant large mammal predators in Kruger, each of which occupy slightly different habitats or ecological niches that are suited to their food acquisition needs.

Leopards are shy creatures that hunt at night and hide during the day. Even if they do venture into open ground, the lithe, tawny-yellow body with black rosette spots is difficult to spot because it blends in perfectly with its surroundings.

It is easier to observe the stunning cheetah, the fastest land animal capable of reaching speeds of up to 75 km/h in short, explosive bursts of sinuous movement. These, on the other hand, must compete for food with larger predators and prefer clear grasslands to run down their prey, resulting in a low population growth rate.

They can be found throughout the Park, but they are most visible in the game-rich grasslands of central and southern Kruger.

The lesser known predators and carnivores of Kruger National Park are:

The African Wild Cat – Aside from the difference in ear coloration and longer legs, this species could easily be confused with a domestic cat, to which it is closely related. Outside of the breeding season, this cat is solitary, and mature animals are likely territorial.

The Black Footed Cat – this species is considered rare and very secretive. Except for the brief mating season, black-footed cats prefer to live alone.They primarily prey on rodents and shrews, as well as small birds, large soft-bodied insects, snakes, geckos, spiders, and scorpions.

The Bat-eared Fox – an animal with a silver-grey fluffy coat, a bushy tail with a black tip, and a black stripe on top. The enormous ears, black on the outside and white on the inside, are a standout feature. They have tiny teeth and eat only insects, small rodents and fruit with Harvester termites being their primary food source.

The Black Backed Jackalis a widespread cunning and daringspecies that are frequently observed stealing a morsel from lions on the hunt. They do scavenge but are also hunters.Small mammals, reptiles, birds, eggs, carrion, and fruit are among their foods. They are primarily nocturnal but are occasionally seen during the day.

The Side-striped Jackalis larger than the more common Black-backed Jackal, with a grey-to-buff body and a darker back, with the sides marked with a white stripe with black lower margins.Small mammals, carrion, fruits, maize, reptiles, eggs, and birds comprise their diet, and they are less predatory than the Black-backed Jackal.

TheSilver-backed or Cape Fox is South Africa’s smallest canid. It has silver-grey fur, large pointed ears, and a bushy tail. Insects, mice, and other small animals are common prey for the Cape Fox.

The Spotted Hyena is distinguished by its slanting features, gangly walk, and haunting chuckle or “laugh.”It was once thought to be a scavenger but can actually be considered one of the most successful hunters.

The Brown Hyena with its pointed ears and dark brown to black shaggy coat, has e a long cream-coloured mane from the back of their neck across the shoulder bones. They are mainly scavengers that feed on the carcasses of large herbivores.

The Serval is a slender-built cat with a golden brown coat on its back, flanks, and tail, with black stripes down the spine and black spots on the flanks and tail. The serval has unusually long legs, as well as a small but long head and large rounded ears with alternating black and white stripes on the back.Rodents, particularly vlei rats, make up the majority of its diet.

A Caracal is a large rufous-fawn cat with tufts of black hair on its ears, beautiful face markings, a creamy underbelly and long legs. The Caracal moves gracefully and is an expert climber. It hunts primarily at night and can take down larger prey such as Reedbuck and Duiker as well as smaller prey such as Sand Rat, Ground Squirrel, and Rock Hyrax.

The African Civet has short, dense greyish fur with rows of black spots along its body, with striped markings on one-third of the base of their tail. They are most active after dark, searching for insects, mice, reptiles, frogs, birds, and even scavenging and eating fruit.

The Large-Spotted Genethas an elongated body and short legs. The Large-Spotted Genet is similar to the Small-Spotted Genet, with the main difference being the latter’s white tipped tail as opposed to the large spotted species’ black tipped tail. Rodents and other small mammals make up the majority of its diet.The Small-Spotted-Genet mainly eats small mammals and insects.

Grazers and Browsers

Herbivores, which can be broadly classified as either grazers or browsers, outnumber predators by a large margin.

There are numerous antelope species, including the Impala, as well as Kudu, Zebra, Giraffe, Wildebeest, Waterbuck (Nyala), Warthog, Sable, Reedbuck, Tsessebe, Eland, Hyena, and Wild Dog – too many to list.

Grazers, such as buffalo, rely on grass for nutrition, whereas browsers, such as the giraffe, eat leaves.Grazers require water at least every two days, whereas browsers get the majority of their moisture needs from eating green leaves and are less reliant on regular water intake.

The distribution of animals in Kruger National Park is heavily influenced by the time of year and the quality of grazing in each area. As a general rule, the western half of Kruger supports fewer game because the grazing is sourveld with a few patches of sweetveld. The larger herds, as well as the majority of the predators, can be found in the open sweetveld grasslands to the east.

The removal of fences between western Kruger and adjoining private reserves has significantly altered migration patterns. Game roams over a much larger area, especially in the summer when grazing and water is plentiful.

On the savanna, there is safety in numbers, which is why different herds of animals frequently mix. The more animals there are, the less likely it is that an individual will be eaten by a predator. Grazing animals also take advantage of their collective strengths; for example, zebra have excellent eyesight while wildebeest have excellent hearing, which increases both species’ chances of survival in the face of danger.

Grazing species frequently eat different parts of the grass and thus do not compete for food directly. Grazing animals also contribute to the regeneration of the veld by eating the grass. Buffalo, in particular, play an important role in maintaining grass quality. They often clean up old grazing areas and open the way for new growth because they can digest long, fibrous grasses.

Zebra and wildebeest appear to have a close social relationship, and they appear to be the most prone to seasonal migration of all the grazers. Despite their reputation as destructive, wasteful eaters, elephants are conservationists as well. They can consume up to 250kg of grass and leaves per day, with the majority of it being recycled back into the environment. Many seeds germinate after passing through the elephant’s digestive system, and the dung also serves as a useful source of manure for the veld.

Elephants are obsessed with new growth, frequently knocking trees over to get at new leaves. Smaller browsers benefit from this because food that is normally out of reach becomes available closer to the ground.

Warthogs aerate the soil by rooting around for bulbs or rhizomes with their tusks.

Browsers eat different parts of the same trees, just as grazers can coexist on the same grassland. The giraffe, which can reach leaves five metres or more off the ground, is clearly the top feeder.

The main browsers in Kruger are kudu, duiker, klipspringer, bushbuck, nyala, and black rhino, in addition to giraffe and elephant. Kudu are found in Kruger National Park in herds of six to twenty cows, each led by a dominant male or two.

Browsers prefer the thicker bush in the western parts of Kruger, where the grazing is unpalatable but the nutrition in the leaves is excellent.

Giraffe prefer the savanna flatlands, but they can also be found on the rocky slopes of the Lebombo. That is usually a sign of the acacias and combretums’ first spring flush.


Smaller primates that are native to Africa, such as baboons and monkeys, make up the majority of the park’s population. They make their home in the woodlands and mountainous areas, and the leopard is their most dangerous natural enemy.

Primate species native to Africa are almost never seen in grasslands or open woodlands. Instead, they are almost always found in woodlands with rocky sections near water.

The primates found in the Kruger National park include Baboons (a large omnivorousprimate with a dog-like face and big, prominent canines that feeds on lizards and birds), Bushbabies or Galagos, the smallest primates and mainly nocturnal, and vervet monkeys.


During a game drive or a safari walk, your knowledgeable game ranger will joyfully point out the intriguing small species of the park so that you can have a better look at them. Other smaller animals and unusually rare sights are also in store for those who embark on a safari.

Your chances of seeing elusive animals like the aardvark and the pangolin will increase, which will make for more fascinating moments throughout your safari.

The fact that Kruger National Park offers wonderful opportunity to observe species that were not on the visitors’ checklist but are stunning to view in their natural habitat will come as a nice surprise to them.


1.    How many species of animals can be found in the Kruger National Park?

Kruger National Park is home to approximately 147 mammal species.

2.    Will you see the Big 5 on safari in the Kruger National Park?

Although no sighting is ever guaranteed, trained game rangers on guided game drives and walking safaris help guests spot these animals.

3.    Is there a Little 5 too in the Kruger National Park?

Yes, the term little five was created by nature conservationists to acknowledge some less noticed and enigmatic animals like the Elephant shrew, the Leopard tortoise, the Antlion, the Rhino beetle, and the Buffalo weaver.

4.    Does the predators roam free in Kruger National Park?

Yes, Kruger is a game reserve and not a zoo. All animals roam free, but camps are fenced in for visitors’ safety.

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