Top Animals in Chobe National Park | Mammals, Reptiles & Birds

January 17, 2023

Chobe National Park in Botswana is known for its large herds of buffalo and elephant meeting along the Chobe Riverfront. It’s a lush park with many waterways that attract abundant wildlife, including birds in the dry season.

Chobe National Park offers game drives, private river cruises, excellent birdwatching, and fantastic photographic opportunities. This park is more than just wildlife, with the Caracal Biodiversity Center and baobab prison tree being some of the top attractions to visit.

But if you don’t know what wildlife you could see, don’t worry. Here’s a list of different animals to spot in the well-known Chobe National Park.

Tip: Discover the best time to visit Botswana to plan the best safari trip.

Sunset safari vehicle

Mammals in Chobe National Park

Chobe National Park is home to various beautiful mammals, including the park’s famous elephants and buffalo. 

African Elephant

The African elephant is known for its massive body, large ears, long tusks, and thick wrinkled skin. Elephants have the largest brain of any land animal and three times as many neurons as humans. They are exceptionally social creatures and engage in playful behavior with other elephants well into their 50s.

Chobe National Park has about 120 000 elephants, mainly around northern Botswana. They migrate from the Chobe and Linyanti rivers in the dry season to the southeastern pans of the park in the wet season. 

Elephant with young

Zebra

Zebras – genus Equus – are native to Africa and are closely related to horses and donkeys. Their most prominent feature is their coats’ striped pattern and long necks with short manes. Zebra stripes are unique, like the human fingerprint, with no two zebras having the same stripe pattern.

Chobe National Park has about 25,000 zebras that migrate to the southeastern pans in early December. The Grevy’s zebras, which you can find in the park, are endangered due to habitat loss and competition with other grazers. 

Zebra’s stripes actually camouflage them as many predators are colorblind and see a herd of zebras as a confusing black-and-white blur. Their newborn foals can stand up within six minutes, walk after twenty minutes and run 40 minutes after birth.

Spotted Hyena

Spotted Hyenas have large heads with thick, muscular necks and powerful jaws, giving the Hyena an extremely strong bite. Their front legs are longer than their back legs giving them an eerie stance similar to a blue wildebeest. 

Hyenas make one of the best mothers in the animal kingdom, investing more energy in each cub than any other carnivore. Females have evolved genitalia that represents those of males to reap the benefits of looking like a male. They are mostly found in the grassland and savannah regions of Chobe National Park.

Young spotted hyena

Cheetah

Cheetahs are lightly built and spotted cats with small, round heads, short noses, and black tear-like streaks from their eyes. They have long legs and a long tail adapted for speed. Cheetahs are the fastest animals worldwide, going from 0 mph to 60 mph in three seconds. They can cover seven meters in one running stride.

Cheetahs are rarely seen in Chobe National Park but are more common in the Linyanti region of the park.

Sable Antelope

The sable antelope has a short neck, a long face, and a dark mane. Both females and males have distinct ringed horns that curve backward. When they stand with heads held high, they often resemble horses. 

The sable antelope has very well-developed senses allowing them to detect predators from miles away. They are located in the drier eastern regions of Chobe National Park, only coming to the river to drink.

Standing sable antelope

Birds in Chobe National Park

More than 450 species of birds call Chobe National Park their home. Chobe River boat cruises are an excellent way to check out many water-associated birds.

African Fish Eagle

The African fish eagle is known as “the sound of Africa.” They are scattered along the Chobe River edges and can be spotted easily from their white head and breast accompanied by featherless, yellow faces. The rest of their body is brown, growing between 25 inches and 29.5 inches.

The African fish eagle has barbs on its feet to aid in holding slippery fish, its main prey.

Fish eagle in flight

African Skimmer

The African skimmer has a brown body with white breasts and a long, orange beak ending in a yellow tip. They have short forked tails and bright red legs.

These birds live along the Chobe River as they skim the water, dipping their abnormal beak into the river to pick up any fish. The African skimmer is the largest of its species, between 15-20 inches long, and a wingspan of 40-50 inches and weighing up to 15 ounces.

Southern Carmine Bee-Eater

The southern carmine bee-eater is known as the pink lady of the African bush. They are dazzling pink and blue tones that pop out against the bush background. Their social nature means hundreds of birds flock together at a time. 

These birds will be found all around Chobe National Park in different regions and are not as rare as other birds on this list.

Bee-eater bird perched on branch

Southern Ground Hornbill

A distinctive feature of the southern ground hornbill is its luscious long eyelashes. This hornbill is not a tree-dwelling bird and rather struts around the grassy regions scouting for snakes, scorpions, grasshoppers, beetles, and lizards.

It has a powerful bill and prominent red skin around its large beak. Another name for them is ‘thunderbird’ due to its deep, booming call and connection to rain.

White-Backed Vulture

It’s safe to say vultures aren’t pretty birds, but they carry great ecological and conservation value. They provide a vital service to the ecosystem and are considered nature’s clean-up crew. Without them stripping carcasses in record time, the ecosystem around them could become seriously ill. 

They prevent diseases like rabies and tuberculosis from spreading. The white-backed vulture is critically endangered, but you see them hovering overhead in most areas of Chobe National Park.

Vulture in grassland

Reptiles in Chobe National Park

Although not always the most popular sighting, there are many reptiles throughout Chobe National Park.

African Chameleon 

Chamaeleo africanus is a slow-moving species of chameleon with eyes that look like bulbs. Their eyes can move independently, and these chameleons reside in the lower branches of trees. Females usually descend to lay eggs in underground nests.

Okavango Mud Turtle

The Okavango mud turtle is the largest of its species and has an oval, elongated shell with a smooth and rounded dome on the edges to look like a rock. The shell is very dark but lightens to an orange or yellow hue towards the sides. The mud turtle is located in and around the Chobe River.

Mud turtle near water

Nile Crocodile

The Nile crocodile has an extremely powerful bite that is the strongest in the predatory kingdom. The sex of the crocodile’s young is determined by the temperature of the water that the eggs incubate in. 

A lower temperature of 86 degrees Fahrenheit will produce females, and a temperature of 89 degrees Fahrenheit will produce males. The Nile crocodile is found throughout the Chobe and Linyanti Rivers. 

Puff Adder

This snake is thick, large, and usually a light brown or brown-yellow color with black bars on its tail and black abstract patterns on its body. This snake has a large triangular head with nostrils that point vertically.

Boomslang

This is a highly venomous snake with a slender body and large eyes. The snake grows up to 78 inches long. They come in various colors ranging from solid bright green to red or a combination of black and yellow.

Boomslang snake closeup

Other Frequently Asked Questions About Chobe National Park

These common questions should be kept in mind to help you plan your ideal trip to Chobe National Park.

How Many Animals Are in Chobe National Park?

There are more than 75 mammal species and 450 bird species.

Where Are the Most Animals in Chobe National Park?

The Chobe Riverfront is a wildlife-rich region where big game gathers, especially towards the dry season. 

What Are the Big 5 Game Animals You Can See at Chobe National Park?

All the big five animals roam around Chobe National Park. Check out the best prices for Botswana safaris, including tours, day trips, and luxury packages to ensure you spot all the big five on your journey.

What Is the Best Time to Visit Zambezi National Park?

The best time to visit Chobe National Park is from May to early November when most visitors go for the optimal game viewing dry season.

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