Leopards and elephants and rhinos, oh my

By Ed Yong | October 3, 2009 10:00 am

I’m back! For anyone wondering why I’ve been reposting old pieces for the last few weeks, it’s because my wife and I were enjoying a much-deserved holiday in South Africa. I’ll stick a link to some photos shortly, but for the moment, here’s some post-holiday geekery for you.

The trip was a wildlife extravaganza. We spent four days in the Sabi Sands Game Reserve (just south of Kruger), as well as whale-watching, various walks through national parks and four fabulous hours tracking wild meerkats. I’ll be sticking up details and photos over the coming weeks/months, but for now, here’s a full list of the species we saw.

I’ve restricted it to only those animals that we saw in the wild, and then only those that I could identify down to the species level (which explains why the bird list isn’t longer and why they’re all vertebrates). Asterisks denote species that I have photos of.


  • Southern right whale, Eubalaena australis *
  • Leopard, Panthera pardus *
  • Spotted hyena, Crocuta crocuta *
  • Meerkat, Suricata suricatta *
  • Slender mongoose, Galerella sanguinea
  • White-tailed mongoose, Ichneumia albicauda
  • Dwarf mongoose, Helogale parvula *
  • Cape fur seal, Arctocephalus pusillus
  • Rock hyrax, Procavia capensis *
  • African bush elephant, Loxodonta africana *
  • Chacma baboon, Papio cynocephalus *
  • Lesser bushbaby, Galago moholi
  • Hippopotamus, Hippopotamus amphibius *
  • White rhinoceros, Ceratotherium simum *
  • Plain’s zebra, Equus burchelli *
  • Warthog, Phacochoerus aethiopicus *
  • Giraffe, Giraffa camelopardalis *
  • Cape buffalo, Syncerus caffer *
  • Nyala, Tragelaphus angasi *
  • Kudu Tragelaphus strepsiceros*
  • Bushbuck, Tragelaphus scriptus *
  • Eland, Taurotragus oryx *
  • Springbok, Antidorcas marsupalis
  • Common duiker, Sylvicapra grimmia
  • Steenbok Raphicerus campestris
  • Waterbuck, Kobus ellipsiprymnus
  • Impala, Aepyceros melampus *
  • Blue wildebeest, Connochaetes taurinus *
  • Bontebok, Damaliscus pygargus pygargus*
  • Striped mouse, Rhabdomys pumilio
  • Smith’s bush squirrel, Paraxerus cepapi*
  • Scrubhare, Lepus saxatilis


  • Ostrich, Struthio camelus *
  • African penguin, Spheniscus demersus *
  • White-breasted cormorant, Phalacrocorax lucidus *
  • Cape cormorant, Phalacrocorax capensis *
  • Grey heron, Ardea cinerea *
  • Cattle egret, Bubulcus ibis
  • Hadada ibis, Bostrychia hagedash *
  • Sacred ibis, Threskiornis aethiopicus
  • Egyptian goose, Alopochen aegyptiacus *
  • Yellow-billed kite, Milvus aegyptius *
  • African Fish eagle, Haliaeetus vocifer *
  • White-backed vulture, Gyps africanus *
  • Bateleur, Terathopius ecaudatus *
  • Gymnogene (African harrier-hawk), Polyboroides typus
  • Wahlberg’s eagle, Aquila wahlbergi *
  • Martial eagle, Polemaetus bellicosus *
  • Shelley’s francolin, Francolinus shelleyi
  • Helmeted guineafowl, Numida meleagris *
  • Blue crane, Grus paradisea *
  • Red-knobbed coot, Fulica cristata
  • Red-crested korhaan, Lophotis ruficrista
  • Blacksmith plover, Vanellus armatus *
  • Three-banded plover, Charadrius tricollaris *
  • Kelp gull, Larus dominicanus *
  • Hartlaub’s gull, Chroicocephalus hartlaubii
  • Spotted eagle-owl, Bubo africanus
  • European roller, Coracias garrulus
  • Southern Yellow-billed hornbill, Tockus leucomelas *
  • Black-collared barbet, Lybius torquatus *
  • Crested barbet, Trachyphonus vaillantii *
  • Cardinal woodpecker, Dendropicos fuscescens *
  • Yellow wagtail, Motacilla flava *
  • Malachite sunbird, Nectarinia famosa
  • Greater double-collared sunbird, Cinnyris afer *
  • Lesser double-collared sunbird, Cinnyris chalybeus
  • Eurasian golden oriole, Oriolus oriolus
  • Fiscal shrike, Lanius collaris
  • Magpie shrike, Corvinella melanoleuca *
  • Fork-tailed drongo, Dicrurus adsimilis
  • Cape crow, Corvus capensis *
  • Pied crow, Corvus albus
  • Red-winged starling, Onychognathus morio *
  • Cape glossy starling, Lamprotornis nitens
  • Yellow-billed oxpecker, Buphagus africanus *
  • Red bishop, Euplectes orix *
  • Cape weaver, Ploceus capensis *
  • Blue swallow, Hirundo atrocaerulea
  • Cape white-eye, Zosterops pallidus,
  • Lemon dove, Columba larvata

Reptiles and amphibians

  • Black girdled lizard, Cordylus niger *
  • Southern rock agama Agama atra *
  • Foamy nest frog, Chiromantis rufescens *
  • Leopard Tortoise, Geochelone pardalis



Comments (3)

  1. I’m quite envious! One of these days I’ll make it to Africa…
    Looking forward to seeing your photos!

  2. You went to Africa to see a Eurasian golden oriole? Did it look a bit lost?


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