Planet Earth

Leopards and elephants and rhinos, oh my

Not Exactly Rocket ScienceBy Ed YongOct 3, 2009 7:00 PM


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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

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