South Africa has a wide variety of species that are significantly different from those here in Iowa.
The most well-known ones are the Big Five Safari animals, which are the elephant, lion, leopard, buffalo, and rhino. They are called the Big Five because they are the most dangerous animals to hunt on foot. Sadly, some of them have faced rampant hunting and are now threatened. This is true of several animal species in SA. The good news is the Kruger National Park in South Africa has been working to build up endangered species, like the White Rhino. For example, in the 1920s there were about 120 elephants in SA. Now Kruger National Park alone has about 10,000 elephants. That’s pretty sweet!
SA has several different Big Cats: Lions, Leopards, and Cheetahs. I hope not to meet a cheetah while I am there because I cannot outrun something that can sprint at 100 kph-even in a car. However, they do live in reserves in Northwest and Northern Cape, where I could live. So-be sure to take a guided tour ONLY! 🙂
Zebras, giraffes, hippos, Kudu, and wildebeests can be found in SA as well, particularly in reserves or conservation areas. Basically, what I would see in a zoo here in the US, I can find in nature in SA. I wonder what will be in the zoos there…squirrels and deer? (That was what I found in a zoo in Mexico.) I honestly did not knkow what a wildebeest was, but now I do! It means “wild beast” in Dutch, and is a rather furry antelope. They are also called Gnus, and apparently are the third fastest animal in the world, able to run about 50 mph. Thus, they are often hunted by cheetahs.
Here’s a wildebeest:
You can see why they are nicknamed “Clowns of the Jungle.” They are a bit mismatched-looking.