Hwange National Park is one of Africa’s greatest conservation sites and the largest game reserve in Zimbabwe. It was declared a national park in 1929 and has since become home to over 400 birds, 100 mammals, and various reptile species.
The park is one of the few in the world that is home to all 5 members of the Big Five animals. This remote safari spot is perfect for those wanting to connect with nature and experience a mind-blowing wildlife adventure. Let’s gallop through this guide to meet 15 of the best animals in Hwange National Park.
Mammals in Hwange National Park
Hwange National Park is proud to be the home of over 100 mammal species. Here are some of the must-see mammals on your next trip to Zimbabwe.
One of Africa’s greatest elephant populations is found in Hwange National Park. The park is home to 20,000–50,000 elephants, who often live in herds of up to 350 and make up a staggering 90% of the area’s biomass.
A truly amazing experience is watching hundreds of these elephants enjoy themselves at watering holes, splashing, and spraying through their versatile trunks.
Sable antelopes are majestic animals with bare chests, dark manes, and scimitar horns that rise vertically and have a sharp curl at the edge. These animals are well-known for their hostile behavior and ability to defend themselves from predators like lions.
Sables make up a small population of Hwange and are sometimes difficult to find because they are usually in hiding. The best time to spot herds is during their daily visits to water holes.
Giraffes are the tallest living mammal and popular inhabitants in Africa. They have extremely long necks and tall legs reaching nearly 6 feet and can run an incredible 35 miles an hour. These gorgeous animals can be seen in Hwange National Park rummaging among bushes and trees.
Zimbabwe’s giraffe population has decreased significantly in recent years from over 14 500 to roughly 1 600, with Hwange preserving 20% of the population. For this reason, the Giraffe Conservation Foundation has been set up to protect the remaining wild animals.
Impalas are prey animals belonging to the antelope family and are medium-sized with broad necks, long legs, and twisted horns. These animals often roam around in large herds for protection against predators like lions and cheetahs.
Impalas can leap nearly ten feet into the air, making them amazing jumpers. They are also incredibly fast runners, clocking in at 33 mph. You can see them at Hwange scrounging through the grass, plants, and shrubs.
With their magnificent, hairy manes, robust bodies, and exceptional hunting skills, lions are unquestionably the Kings of the Jungle. They live in groups known as prides. The size of each pride depends on the number of lions present, the amount of area available, and competition from other predators.
A little over 500 lions proudly call Hwange National Park home. Early mornings and late afternoons are the best times to see these predators in action. They are otherwise just lazily soaking up the sun in the daytime.
Next Read: Ready for a Hwange wildlife adventure? Read this Zimbabwe Camp & Safari Lodge guide before packing your bags.
Birds in Hwange National Park
Hwange National Park is a thrilling wildlife safari teeming with diverse landscapes that make an easy living for our flying friends. Here are some of the unique birds you will see when you visit the park.
Grey Crowned Crane
The grey crowned crane goes by many names: African crowned crane, East African crane, and crested crane. They are not high-flying birds and only travel a short air distance between breeding and non-breeding grounds.
Because of habitat destruction, the removal of eggs, and the killing of birds in the wild, these majestic species are now at risk of extinction. Hwange is one of the few conservation sites in Africa that houses and protects these birds.
Flamingos are known for their distinctive pink color and hook-shaped beaks. These monogamous birds cooperate to build a nest and take care of their offspring. They are well-known for migrating during clear night skies and traveling a distance of up to 373 miles per hour.
Lesser and Greater flamingos, which congregate in sizable groups near the Salt Pan, are two flamingo species that can be seen at Hwange.
Large and migratory, the marabou stork breeds in wet and desert environments, particularly close to landfills. They have large reddish neck sacks for making guttural croaking sounds during the breeding season.
Marabou storks can be seen at Hwange National Park scavenging away on scraps dropped by other predators.
Great White Pelican
Unquestionably one of the most attractive waterbirds, the great white pelican has a large bill, and a pouched neck. These birds circle their prey fish as they hunt it, then quickly scoop it up in their pouch.
In Hwange National Park, great white pelicans can be seen hunting among other birds of their species close to water bodies.
The African spoonbill is stunning to view from a distance because of its pearly white feathers. Spoonbills can move across wetlands due to their long, slender, but sturdy legs.
Hwange National Park is one of the African game reserves where you can spot the African Spoonbill peacefully enjoying spacious and shallow water holes. Here, they tend to hide and silently forage for food.
Reptiles in Hwange National Park
Here are some of the magnificent reptiles that reside at Hwange National Park.
A resident of fresh water, the Nile crocodile can weigh up to 1,650 pounds and grow to a length of around 20 feet. These reptiles have an average life expectancy of about 45 years.
This crocodilian lays about 20-80 eggs at a time. They can be observed at Hwange National Park near vast water bodies, floating and soaking up the sun.
An intriguing little reptile indigenous to South Africa, Ethiopia, and Somalia is the leopard tortoise. This reptile is easily recognized by its rugged, leopard-like outer shell.
It enjoys succulents and thistles in Hwange National Park and frequently grazes on mixed grasses as it prefers grassland settings. Leopard tortoises may be seen living in fox burrows that have been abandoned.
The flap-necked chameleon belongs to the family of lizards called Chamaeleonidae. It is indigenous to sub-Saharan Africa and has a lifespan of about 5-8 years.
They can move their eyes 360 degrees, making it easy to spot predators and escape. You will find these reptiles in wet and dry savannahs, forests, and bushy grasslands at Hwange.
Spotted Bush Snake
The spotted bush snake is a non-venomous snake with light green skin and black spots. These highly alert reptiles have excellent eye vision and are great swimmers.
As the name suggests, the snake can be spotted in forests and bushes. You will likely see a spotted bush snake on trees at Hwange National Park as they hunt for lizards and other prey animals.
This magnificent reptile is a venomous snake almost similar to snouted cobras in its appearance. The Anchieta’s cobra is well-known for its expanded hood when facing a threatening situation.
These snakes make a permanent lair close to water pans in Hwange National Park and prefer savannah grasslands and rocky areas.
Other Frequently Asked Questions About Hwange National Park
Here are the commonly asked questions and answers about the animals in Hwange National Park.
How Many Animals Are in Hwange National Park?
The park has just over 63,000 animals comprising various species of birds, mammals, and reptiles.
Where Are the Most Animals in Hwange National Park?
Most animals can be found around Little Makalolo Camp. Herds of buffalos, elephants, packs of lions, cheetahs, wild dogs, and leopards are frequent in this area.
What Are the Big 5 Game Animals That Can Be Seen at Hwange National Park?
Hwange National Park is a large conservation site for many animal species, most notably the Big Five game animals, which include lions, elephants, buffalos, rhinoceros, and leopards.
What Is Special About Hwange National Park?
It is one of Africa’s largest parks, teeming with a diverse wildlife population and dedicated to protecting each species’ habitats.
How Big is Hwange National Park?
The park is 5,657 square miles and contains beautiful Mukwa and Zimbabwean Teak hardwood forests.