Wildlife of the Serengeti. 15 animals you can see in the Serengeti

Serengeti National Park is one of the most popular wildlife destinations in the whole of Africa. With so many animal species in large numbers, a visit to the Serengeti plains is on very many travellers' lists.

In this article, we'll take a look at some of the animals you can find in Tanzania's Serengeti on safari. Because of the great biodiversity, we have briefly highlighted a few of the more popular and common animals that live in Serengeti.

Animals To See In The Serengeti

1. African Bush Elephants

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herd of elephants

African bush elephants roam the Serengeti plains with the grace that can only be managed by the biggest land animal. The herds of elephants have recovered from the poaching of the 1980s and with more than 5000 individuals, seeing elephants will not be hard in the Serengeti.

Related article: 22 Things Worth Knowing About Elephants.

2. Giraffes

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giraffe

It probably wouldn't be the Serengeti without giraffes roaming the vast plains. The giraffe is the tallest land animal and standing at close to 6 metres in height, you won't miss their towering presence as it feeds on the leaves atop the trees.

The giraffe's height helps it feed on the vegetation that is not reachable for other animals.

3. Hippopotamuses

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yawning hippo

Hippos are one of the most interesting African animals that are truly fascinating to learn about. They look docile but have a temper, and their features are built to fight and destroy enemies.

In the Serengeti, you will find herds comprising many hippos in and around water bodies as they hide from the scorching savannah sun. 

Related article: 22 Captivating Facts About Hippos

4. African Buffalos

The African buffalo might look like a dark more strongly built domestic cow but keep your distance. These buffalos have a volatile temper and you must keep your distance. 

Buffaloes are very easy to find since they come to water sources for drinking water. Seeing their huge herds is reminiscent of the domestic cattle, but if you are lucky to see them frighten a lion, you won't forget that anytime soon.

With more than 28,000 African buffalos in Serengeti, it will be easy to spot them.

5. Zebras

The black and white zebra stripes make them stand out from all the other animals, and even from each other. Zebras are quite a sight and the Serengeti plains are home to about 250,000 zebras.

This means that you will see zebras at every turn, and even see massive super herds during the great migration.

Related article: 38 Dazzling Facts To Know About Zebras

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wilde beest and zebra in ngorongoro crater

6. Wildebeests

Wildebeests dominate the Serengeti and make the largest number of animals. There is an estimated 1.5 million wildebeest in Serengeti National park, and they are the collective stars of the great wildebeest migration that happens every year.

Whatever time you go to Serengeti, you will be in the company of wildebeests.

7. African Lions

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male lion drinking water

With more than 3000 lions in Serengeti, this is the largest wild population of lions in the wild. Serengeti is a perfect place for anyone who has ever wanted to see lions in their natural environments.

The large numbers make it easy to see several prides (groups) of lions and your chances of seeing lions on a hunt or after a hunt are very high. 

Related article: 16 Roaring Facts About African Lions

8. Spotted Hyenas

Serengeti National park is home to more than 3000 spotted hyenas and hyenas are a common sighting for visitors.

While hyenas have an unpopular reputation as unruly scavengers, there is so much more to them and learning about them on safari is a wonderful experience that will change your outlook on the hyena.

9. Cheetahs

Unlike the lions and leopards, cheetahs are the only big cat in Serengeti that won't shy away from people. You have seen the videos and photos of cheetahs climbing on top of the safari vehicles. Some of those videos are undoubtedly from the Serengeti.

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cheetah resting on a rock

Since cheetahs do most of their hunting in the morning and evening, you might be lucky and get to witness their breakneck world record speed as they hunt.

Cheetahs climbing on your car or hunting is not guaranteed since they are wild untrained animals, and so you should hope it comes - as a bonus of nature.

Related article: 28 Compelling Facts To Know about Cheetahs.

10. Nile Crocodiles

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crocodile attacking wildebeest

During the great migration, the animals have to cross the mara river to enter Kenya's Masai mara and this is when the Nile crocodiles become the villains of the great migration show.

Both the Mara and Grumeti rivers harbour more than 2,000 Nile crocodiles ready to snap at zebras, wildebeest, gazelles and anything that is crossing the river.

Related article: 20+ Gripping Facts About The Nile Crocodile

11. Thomson Gazelles

The Thomson Gazelle sometimes referred to as 'tommie' is very common in Serengeti and you will be able to see many groups feeding. Due to its small size, the tommie is prey for most predators - from cheetahs, leopards and lions to crocodiles and African rock pythons. 

Their only weapon is speed and can run away at speeds of 90 kilometres per hour. Tommies are a big part of sustaining the balance of the Serengeti, whether by grazing or being preyed on.

12. Leopards

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leopard-stalking-prey

Leopards are masters of seclusion and are among the hardest animals to find on safari. Seeing a leopard will excite even the guides who are always traversing Serengeti and is a wonderful experience.

You should know that leopards are very hard to find in most areas, and therefore manage your expectations.

Related article: Interesting Facts About Leopards

13. African Wild Dog

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african wild dog pup

The African wild dog used to be abundant in Serengeti until they were wiped by disease between the 1970s and 1990s. The African wild dog (painted dog) has been reintroduced and the numbers are steadily improving.

It is quite hard to see the painted dogs due to the small population.

Related article: 15 Fun Facts About African Wild Dogs

14. Rhinoceros

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Rhino

Rhinos are less abundant in Serengeti as a result of the poaching greatly that reduced their population in the 1980s.

Since a rhino gives birth 2 times in 10 years, the recovery of its population has been quite slow and you will need some luck to see rhinos.

Related article: Compelling Facts To Know About Rhinos

15. African Rock Python

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African rock python in short grass

African rock pythons are the biggest snake species in Africa and can grow up to 7 metres in length. For context, that is taller than a standing giraffe.

African rock pythons are however not easy to find since they hibernate for long periods especially after a big meal. A big meal for a python might be a small gazelle or cub of another animal, and this might take several months before the snake needs food again.

Related article: Fascinating Facts About African Rock Pythons

More Animals In The Serengeti

Besides the above animals, Serengeti is home to even more animals - all of which make it the magical wilderness bustling with life.

Here are some more animals that you will encounter on your visit to Serengeti National Park.

  • Bat-eared fox
  • African Golden Wolf
  • Olive baboons
  • Striped Hyena
  • Hartebeest
  • Oryx
  • Pangolin
  • Patas monkey
  • Aardvark
  • Waterbuck
  • African civet
  • Eland
  • Hyrax
  • Mongooses
  • Impala
  • Aardwolf
  • vervet monkeys
  • Dik-dik
  • Nile Monitor
  • Black mamba

Birds In Serengeti National Park

The Serengeti is home to more than 500 different species of birds. The various ecosystems make it ideal for birds of all types and sizes.

Here are some of the popular bird species you can find in Serengeti national park.

  • Shoebill
  • Flamingo
  • Martial Eagle
  • Ostrich
  • Kori Bustard
  • Goliath Herons
  • Crowned Crane
  • Saddle-billed Stork
  • Hamerkop
  • Black Herons
  • Marabou Stork
  • African Fish Eagle

Final Thoughts

Talking about less than 50 of the animals in the Serengeti is like explaining an ocean with a cup of water. It is simply scratching the surface.

With more than 1000 different species of animal life, from ants to big predators, we can only scratch the surface. 

We hope that this article serves to inspire you to add visiting Serengeti high on your list because the experience of standing in the endless savannah is not like any other.

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