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10 Fun Facts About South African Animals

Updated: Aug 31, 2023



With members of our team about to volunteer in South Africa, it's only right that this is the next country to visit on our trip to discover animals around the world.



1) The big five


If you ask someone to name one South African animal, chances are it will be a member of The Big Five - African bush elephants, African buffalo, rhinoceros, lions and leopards.


Did you know? The term was coined by hunters for the five most dangerous and noteworthy kills. Safaris, tourism and conservation efforts have now adopted the phrase.



2) African penguins are nicknamed jackass


They got the nickname due to their donkey-like honking vocalisations. It is thought that their language follows the same linguistic rules as humans!




3) The largest snake in South Africa is the southern African rock python


They can grow to 5m, making them one of the largest snakes in the world.



4) Home to 175 species of scorpions


Of the 175, only 22 are dangerous to humans, and 2 have caused fatalities.




5) Guided by the Milky Way


Dung beetles use the Milky Way to help them roll poo in a straight line as they work at night. If they didn’t do this, they would risk circling back to the dung pile and having their ball stolen by competitors (find out more).



6) 16% of fish are endemic to the waters around South Africa

One of which is the brown shyshark. When threatened, this species covers its eyes with its tail.




7) The social media star frog


The desert rain frog has likely popped up on your feed due to it’s unique cry.


Fun Fact - These frogs don’t hop; they walk.



8) The national animal of South Africa is the springbok


The springbok can reach speeds of over 50mph. For perspective, Usain Bolts top speed is 27.33mph.




9) African fishing eagle


This birds is symbolically known as the ‘voice of Africa’ and ‘keeper of the waters’



10) South Africa has the largest population of rhinos in the world


However, poaching is a huge issue. Kruger’s National Park rhino population has dropped by 60% since 2013.




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