Wildlife Guide

Southern Africa's animal kingdom will captivate, mesmerise and provide you with an unforgettable experience of the region. Thanks to its varied terrain, Southern Africa hosts an amazing diversity of species and you're practically guaranteed to see plenty of hoofed, tusked, winged and other creatures, not to mention the fabled big cats and great herd animals.

The beauty of the wildlife is not just the Big Five (lion, leopard, Cape buffalo, black rhino and elephant) either. You may be entertained by the clownish antics of the dwarf mongoose, captivated by the speed and grace of a cheetah, awed by the beauty of a gemsbok, outraged at the cheek of a curious baboon or startled at the rippling power of a hippo.

Habitat plays a big role when watching wildlife in Southern Africa - the animals are a part of this land, and when you see their interactions with the temperate grasslands, dry woodland or arid savanna, you'll know that you're seeing Africa.

As wildlife tourism is one of the main sources of revenue for conservation efforts in Southern Africa, the money you spend in national parks and reserves is often ploughed back into these areas, thus ensuring the protection and sustainability of these magnificent creatures. The following tips will help you get the most out of wildlife watching: Wildlife viewing is generally best in the dry season, when sparse vegetation opens up the view and thirsty animals congregate around water sources.

Be patient - take time to notice the environment. After spotting an animal, stop to look around and you'll usually notice a lot more activity. Staking out a water hole for several hours will almost always reward you with a greater understanding of what's going on. Warthogs, baboons, zebras, giraffes and many antelope species happily associate with each other, so it's common to see several species at once. However, the presence of feeding herbivores doesn't preclude the possibility of a predator nearby, so be alert for stalking lions. Don't forget your binoculars, which will allow you to turn a speck in the distance into something much more interesting, and will enhance bird-watching opportunities.

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