No trip to South Africa would be complete without a visit to its flagship, the Kruger National Park—where the true beauty of the country’s landscape shines without obstruction. In addition to spectacular scenery, the wildlife of Kruger National Park is superb and there are a number of Kruger Park lodges located throughout the reserve that cater to all tastes and occasions.
But if you’re planning a trip to the Kruger National Park, what wildlife can you can expect to see?
Wildlife of Kruger National Park
The Kruger National Park’s vast expanse is home to over 147 different mammals, 114 reptile species, 51 snake species, 49 fish species, and a whopping 508 bird species, a number unrivalled in South Africa. The Kruger National Park is South Africa’s largest conservation area, covering an area of 19 455km2. It is home to the Big Five of the African animal kingdom.
Because of the vastness of the game reserve, some species of wildlife prefer specific areas with varying vegetation types. Visitors can expect to see Roan Antelope, Tsessebe, Common Eland, and Savanna Elephant in the reserve’s northern regions, while Plains Zebra, Impala, Southern Giraffe, and Rhinoceros are more common in the reserve’s southern and central areas.
Given how uncommon rhinos are, these magnificent creatures are always a spectacular sighting during a safari experience. While white rhinos are more common than the endangered black rhino, both animals face their own challenges. Given the increasing extinction rates of both black and white rhinos, witnessing one of these incredible animals in their natural habitat is a true gift in and of itself.
When it comes to the wildlife of Kruger National Park, the big cats make for excellent sightings on a safari. Many people dream of stumbling across an elusive leopard, and if you blink too quickly, you might miss this big cat stalking through the trees towards its prey. This spectacular big cat is a sight you will remember long after your safari is over, and one that most people will only see a few times in their lifetime.
Other big cats, including lions, cheetahs and Wild Dogs can be found roaming throughout the entire game reserve but are most commonly found near large populations of other game. Of course, no safari is complete without falling asleep to the hyena’s laugh-like whoops. However, don’t be fooled by their playful demeanour. These Kruger Park scavengers can be vicious. The Kruger is primarily inhabited by spotted hyenas, which are distinguished by their polka-dot-like coat of brown spots. The king of the jungle is a fine sight, just one of the reasons it belongs to the Big Five group. A lion resting under a tree in the late afternoon is a magical sight in and of itself, but catching a pride of lions during a kill is an experience you will never forget if you are fortunate enough to witness it.
The Big Five
It’s a term that originated in the South African hunting arena, identifying the five most dangerous animals to hunt on foot, each with its own set of strengths and incredibly intimidating features and skills.
However, it has since been successfully used by the tourism industry. It’s now a term of affection and people travel from all over the world to see these five recognizable animals on a Kruger safari. The fierce and formidable lion, the gentle and gigantic elephants, the regal and elusive leopard, the mighty buffalo, and the remarkable rhino comprise the Big Five.
While there are many other truly unique and significant animals, birds, and flora to be found in the Kruger National Park, there’s no denying that the Big Five is often the most sought-after on a safari.
Other Wildlife of Kruger National Park
The Kruger National Park is home to all five primate species found in South Africa, but the most common are Savanna Baboons and Vervet Monkeys. Nile crocodiles can be seen in the perennial rivers and on the banks of large pools and dams, and visitors can also see the small heads and backs of a variety of Terrapin species, including Marsh and Black-bellied Hinged Terrapins, in the water on occasion.
Best Time for Wildlife Viewing
The best time to see the wildlife of Kruger National 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.