May 21, 2020
Botswana Safari Animals And Where To Find Them

The entire continent of Africa is full of wonders that compel tourists from all over the world to visit. From the mysteries of ancient cultures to the beautifully diverse wildlife, the continent quenches the thirst of adventurous souls. Botswana is one of the most exciting safari destinations in Africa. It is home to an abundance of animal species like the big five, including the endangered black rhinos. Botswana’s conservation efforts have helped and improved the status of some endangered species.

The diverse wildlife is spread all over the country in several Botswana game reserves and Botswana national parks. Safari enthusiasts can get out into the wild on a game drive and spot some of Botswana animals, some are lucky enough to witness a predator on a hunt. The professional guides in the safari camps know the areas well and are very knowledgeable about animal habits, their home ranges, where they drink water, and where they might be. They will maximise your chances of seeing as much as possible. We have listed some iconic Botswana animals and the best places for you to find them.

Botswana Safari Animals And Where To Find Them

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Botswana Safari Animals

1 – Safari Animals In Botswana

Hyena

Hyena

Contrary to popular belief, hyenas aren’t entirely scavengers. The majority of their diet constitutes direct kills. The hyena clan structure is strictly matriarchal. The secondary leaders, also female, follow the matriarch in leading the hyena clan and its divisions.

A female hyena delivers around two to four cubs, which are raised in the den until they are 12 or 18 months old. Once they cross the 18 months old boundary, they join their clans on the hunting and scavenging trips. The territorial predators mark their territories with their faeces. Whilst one can spot hyena’s all over Botswana, the following are a few places they tend to favour.

Best places to see Hyena

  • Okavango Delta
  • Chobe National Park
  • Central Kalahari Game Reserve

Wildebeest

wildebeest

Botswana wildebeest migration is one of the largest wildlife migrations observed in Africa. It’s a never-ending race from the northern wetlands in Botswana to the lush and plentiful Kalahari after the rains. Many wildebeest fall prey to the predators lying in wait at every corner but ruled by their appetites, they keep moving on to greener territories. The majority of the females give birth to the calves during two to three weeks of each other, which attracts a lot of predators. In-person, the migration is a sight to behold.

Best places to see Wildebeest

  • Central Kalahari Game Reserve
  • Nxai Pan National Park
  • Makgadikgadi Pans National Park
  • Moremi Game Reserve

Zebra

Zebra

Zebras live together in stable family groups known as ‘Harem.’ They live together for months or sometimes even years. A harem of zebra consists of a stallion, a few mares, and their offspring. Zebras have unusual communication methods, which include via expressions, snorts and calls to alert the presence of a predator. They greet each other by pushing their face forwards and ears raised.

When threatened, their ears lie flat on their heads. The ‘Coat of arms of Botswana’ has two zebras supporting the shield in the centre. Zebras are travellers by nature and they migrate a long distance in search of food. They can be seen at the following parks.

Best places to see Zebra

  • Nxai Pan National Park
  • Makgadikgadi Pans National Park
  • Chobe National Park
  • Moremi Game Reserve

Sitatunga

Sitatunga

Sitatunga is a species of antelope that lives exclusively in the swamps. Their delicate hooves make them clumsy on the ground, but allow them to walk gracefully in the muddy and thickly vegetated swamps. These solitary creatures only associate with others for mating or sometimes form small temporary social groups. The ties between a sitatunga offspring and its mother aren’t deep. The young leave the family quite early and start living on their own. Living in these watery worlds means they are capable swimmers. When they sense danger, they dive deeper into the swamp with only their heads visible above the water.

Best places to see Sitatunga

  • Okavango Delta
  • Moremi Game Reserve
  • Chobe National Park

Lechwe

Safari Deal Lechwe

The Lechwe share quite a few qualities with the Sitatunga. They live in the swamps and also hide from predators in the water. The male Lechwe are quite territorial and will battle with other males over territory and females. However, during the mating season, they allow the female lechwe and young males to enter and pass through their territories. Their very distinctive curved horns and white ring on their rumps help to identify them.

Best places to see Lechwe

  • Okavango Delta

Meerkat

Meerkat

Meerkats are a small mongoose species that live in the Kalahari Desert of Botswana. They are social creatures that live in colonies and are sometimes called a gang, mob, or clan, which is self-evident when you see them going about their daily business. Their diet is composed of plants, insects and scorpions and they have a unique immunity to some string venoms. Whilst out and about hunting, one of the meerkats is given the role of a sentry and if he spots something he barks a warning, giving the mob a chance to escape underground.

Best places to see Meerkat

  • Makgadikgadi Pans National Park
  • Central Kalahari Game Reserve.

2 – Vulnerable Species In Botswana

Elephants

Elephants

Botswana has a large elephant population and is home to more elephants than any other African country. The herd is led by an adult female elephant, who is this matriarch of the herd that leads the herd to food and water sources. An adult elephant male chooses a solitary life. They are highly intelligent and elephants have been known to grieve the death of a family member. Despite the number of elephants in Botswana, they are under threat through habitat loss, loss of migration routes, and poaching. Coming across mega herds in Chobe or sitting quietly and watching a solitary elephant in the Okavango Delta are truly magical experiences.

Best places to see African Botswana Elephants

  • Central Kalahari Game Reserve
  • Chobe National Park
  • Okavango Delta
  • Moremi Game Reserve

Cheetah

Chetaah

Cheetahs are the fastest predators on land and hunt by getting as close to their prey as possible, then suddenly accelerating to 85 km per hour to chase them down. While travelling at this speed behind their prey, they use their tail to balance and turn until they are close enough to ankle-trap their prey. Once their prey goes down, they pounce and bite it on the windpipe, eventually suffocating it. Cheetahs have to be careful after they have made a kill because bigger, stronger predators and jackals can steal their meal.

Best places to see African Cheetah

  • Chobe National Park
  • Nxai Pan National Park
  • Liyanti Private Reserve
  • Okavango Delta

Giraffe

Giraffe

Giraffes are the tallest land animal and the largest ruminant. These truly remarkable animals are only found in Sub-Saharan Africa. These African giants can grow up to 5 meters tall allowing them to reach the leaves and shoots at the top of the trees. Despite their long necks, they still only have 7 vertebrae, the same as humans!

Bull Giraffes fight aggressively, where they push and shove each other and slap each other with their necks and heads. The contests (usually for control of females) are usually dangerous or fatal and ends when one bull submits and moves away.

Best places to see Giraffe

  • Chobe National Park
  • Makgadikgadi Pans National Park
  • Moremi Game Reserve
  • Nxai Pan National Park
  • Okavango Delta.

Hippo

Hippo

Despite their large and bulky bodies, hippos are quite agile on both the land and in water. On land, they can run at up to 30km per hour, and in the water, their buoyancy allows them to move swiftly by porpoising. Hippos do not sweat, but they do secrete a red fluid which protects them against the heat and also heals surface damage to their skin. Bull hippos are very territorial and aggressive and fights between rivals are fierce and can be fatal. Hippos spend most of the day in the water and on exposed sand bars and venture out of the water to graze at night.

Best places to see Hippo

  • Chobe National Park
  • Moremi Game Reserve
  • Okavango Delta

 African Leopard

African Leopard

Leopards are the ultimate ambush predator. Silent, patient, camouflaged, cunning and ruthless. They lie in wait for their prey and only pounce when they are sure of their kill. Leopards aren’t picky eaters and their diet is mostly composed of small animals like impala, baboons, cheetah cubs, rodents, snakes, warthogs, birds and fish.

This elusive cat species is still the most common cat in Africa and spotting one can be quite tricky as they prefer solitude and are shy. They spend most of their time on the ground and only climb the trees to keep their kill and food from other predators or have a nap.

Best places to see African Leopard

  • Chobe National Park
  • Makgadikgadi Pans National Park
  • Moremi Game Reserve
  • Okavango Delta

African Lion

African Lion

Of all the cat species, lions with their magnificent manes and powerful presence have a special place in the wild. Lions are pretty social for a cat species and live in prides led by two or three male lions and around five to ten lionesses and cubs. A lot of their food comes from scavenging but they also hunt, which is the duty of the pride’s lioness. When there is a shortage of food, the hungry lionesses are the first to feed, at the expense of the cubs.

Best places to see African Lion

  • Chobe National Park
  • Okavango Delta

3 – Near Threatened Species In Botswana

African Buffalo

African Buffalo

African Buffalo have heavy ridged curved horns that grow out from their head. These horns prove effective when fighting off predators like African lions that prey on them. Buffaloes also use the horns to establish dominance while fighting and to make space within a herd.

Buffaloes live in large herds of hundreds of animals. They have also been known to gather in even larger groups up to a thousand during the rainy season. Females give birth to calves at the age of four or five and have a deep bond with their offspring. The bulls, on the other hand, become more solitary as they grow older.

Best places to see African Buffalo

  • Chobe National Park
  • Moremi Game Reserve
  • Okavango Delta

White Rhino

Whiterhino

White Rhinos aren’t actually white, they are grey, the name being derived from the Afrikaans word ‘weit’ or wide. They have a long face with 2 horns and a hump on their neck. White rhinos are sedentary, semi-social and territorial. You used to find groups (crashes) of up to 6 animals but this is now not very common, due to poaching. Bull rhinos are solitary and only associate with females to breed. Their home range boundaries are marked out by dung heaps, or middens and used by both sexes as both a mark and for communication.

Best places to see White Rhino

  • Moremi Game Reserve
  • Okavango Delta

Brown Hyena

Safari Deal Brown Hyena

As the name suggests, brown hyenas can be distinguished with the help of their shaggy brown coat. Other distinguishing factors are cream fur around necks in adults, a short tail, pointed ears, and brown-white striped legs. Although they have a powerful jaw, they are not great hunters. They are scavengers and feed on the carcasses left behind by larger predators. But they have also been known to eat insects, gruits, rodents and fungi. The brown hyena is the rarest of the hyenas and a great sighting whilst on safari.

Best places to see Brown Hyena 

  • Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park
  • Central Kalahari Game Reserve

4 – Endangered Species In Botswana

African Wild Dog (Endangered)

Africanwilddog

African Wild Dogs are one of the iconic Africa species. They are the largest indigenous canine in Africa and native to Sub-saharan Africa. Wild Dogs are one of the world’s most endangered species with the largest populations in South Africa and the southern regions of East Africa. They are a social species and are found in packs of up to 10 animals, where there is space and prey they can be found in packs of up to 40 individuals. Wild dogs are opportunistic predators that prey on medium-sized antelope and gazelle. During their prolonged hunts, where they tire their prey out through teamwork, they can reach speeds of 40 km per hour. They have been on the endangered list for over 20 years and the threats are still the same: human conflict, viral diseases, habitat loss, and competition from larger predators.

Best places to see Wild Dog

  • Moremi Game Reserve

Black Rhino (Critically Endangered Species)

Black Rhino

Black Rhinos are one of two species found in Botswana and are smaller than the White Rhino. They are also known as hooked-lipped rhino due to their upper lip that is in the shape of a triangle. Being a browser, this lip helps them to feed more efficiently on bushes and low trees. They are more solitary than the white rhino and considerably more aggressive. A huge conservation effort has seen their numbers increase from a historic low in the late ‘90s. They are still critically endangered and a huge amount of conservation work is still underway to ensure that this animal continues to survive. Spotting one of these magnificent animals in the wild is a rare and treasured treat.

Best places to see Black Rhino

  • Moremi Game Reserve
  • Okavango Delta

About author

MD and Co-Founder. Born in Zimbabwe, Robin has a long history in Africa, and safaris in general, from running lodges to marketing. He is always on the look out for new ideas and products from around the safari world.

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