Top Animals in Masai Mara National Reserve | Mammals & More

October 21, 2022

The Masai Mara National Reserve is a popular safari destination for wildlife enthusiasts. The diverse terrains provide rich habitats for a wide variety of mammals, birds, and reptiles.

Within, you’ll find the Mara River, which runs through the reserve and over the Tanzanian border, providing rich biodiversity and spectacular scenery.

Read on to discover the top fifteen animals you’ll find during your Masai Mara adventure.

Mammals in Masai Mara National Reserve

Masai Mara is home to over ninety species of mammals. Here are a few exciting animals to keep an eye out for:

The Wildebeest


Wildebeest are classified under the larger antelope family. Their head and shoulders are angular and heavy set, whereas the hindquarter is thinned out and lanky.

Masai Mara’s open grassy plains and the Mara River provide a perfect habitat for large herds of wildebeest.

The iconic Wildebeest migration in Masai Mara is one of the most spectacular sights found in nature. The best way to experience this fantastic natural wonder is on one of the many safari trips in Kenya.

The Black Rhino


Black rhinos are herbivores and can be identified by their dark color and triangular-shaped upper lip that is ideal for consuming vegetation.

Masia Mara has a dedicated Black Rhino Sanctuary called Sala’s Camp, which can be found along the remote southern part of the Mara River. The camp is home to a group of between thirty-five and fifty of these magnificent beasts.

The Bat-eared Fox


The bat-eared fox is one of Masai Mara’s more elusive mammals. These small nocturnal animals are easily identifiable by their unusually large ears and weigh about eleven pounds.

Termites are the primary food source for the bat-eared fox, and one fox can easily consume up to 1.5 million termites annually.

The Masai Giraffe


The Masai Giraffe is a species of giraffe native to Eastern Africa. Masai Mara houses approximately thirty thousand of these majestic animals.

Masai Giraffes spend between sixteen and twenty hours a day feeding, and favor Acacia tree leaves. Giraffes mostly travel in groups of between ten and twenty, and a group is called a tower.

The Bushbaby


The bushbaby is another of Masai Mara’s elusive nocturnal animals. Bushbabies are the smallest primate on the African continent. Their long tails aid them in jumping great distances in the treetops.

Spotting a bushbaby on a night-time safari might not be an easy task. You will, however, be able to hear their loud, screeching mating calls all through the night.

Birds in Masai Mara National Reserve

The Masai Mara National Reserve provides a safe haven for over four hundred and seventy recorded bird species.

The Martial Eagle


The martial eagle is the largest eagle species in Africa, with a wingspan of over six feet and weighing in at fourteen pounds on average.

It is estimated that Masai Mara has around twenty martial eagle breeding pairs, which can usually be seen in the grasslands along the Mara River.

The Secretary Bird

Secretary Bird Masai Mara

The secretary bird is one of the most iconic and recognizable birds on the African continent. They have eagle-like heads with hooked bills and long legs reminiscent of a crane.

They prey on smaller lizards and insects in the rolling grasslands of Masai Mara and are active throughout the day. This grants birdwatchers the unique opportunity of seeing them hunt.

The African Fish Eagle


The African fish eagle is another iconic African bird you can expect to see in Masai Mara. With their white tail, head, and dark brown body, these large birds are easily identified on safari.

African fish eagles are a common sight in Masai Mara, with approximately fifteen thousand found along the Mara River. Although their diet consists largely of fish, they also prey on other animals you might see along a riverbed. This includes waterbirds, crocodile hatchlings, and even smaller monkeys.

The White-Backed Vulture


The white-backed vulture is another of Masai Mara’s intimidating predator birds. They have signature white patches on their backs and wings. Their wingspan can stretch as long as seven and a half feet.

With an estimated one thousand breeding pairs at Masai Mara, birdwatchers can expect to see these giant vultures circling carcasses on the grassy plains east of the Mara River.

The Flamingo


Lake Nakuru in the north-western part of Masai Mara is home to a population of nearly two million flamingos. These colorful birds are instantly recognizable by their pink color and long legs. They feast on water insects and algae in the lake’s warm waters.

These elegant birds can be seen in their masses during the wetter summer season between November and April.

Reptiles in Masai Mara National Reserve

The Masai Mara National Reserve is also home to more than one hundred species of reptiles, some more feared and dangerous than others.

The Puff Adder


The puff adder is a well-known and feared African snake that falls under the Viperidae family. They have a flattened, triangular head and are light brown with a tinge of yellow in color.

A single litter can consist of up to forty small puff adders, and the Masai Mara is home to a large population of these feared snakes.

While other snakes will move away if they feel a vibration in the grass, a puff adder will lie still, hiss and stay hidden until the prey is close enough to strike. Their aggressive nature makes them willing and able to attack anything that comes near. They prey on rodents, birds, and other snakes.

The Nile Crocodile


Another highly feared reptile in the Masai Mara National Reserve is the Nile Crocodile. They can grow up to twenty feet long and weigh as much as two thousand pounds when fully grown.

Recognizable by a scaly, dark brown hide, they live along marshes and riverbeds. This makes the Mara River a great habitat for large numbers of Nile Crocodiles. Having an immensely powerful jaw, their bite is said to be more powerful than that of a great white shark.

The Leopard Tortoise


Masai Mara is home to approximately six thousand leopard tortoises. These shy, non-aggressive creatures can be identified by the unique pattern on their shell reminiscent of a leopard.

Leopard tortoises can be found all over the Masai Mara Reserve and usually live in abandoned fox and jackal holes. They mainly eat plant matter and animal scat and have also been observed gnawing on bones left behind by bigger predators.

The Common Agama Lizard


The common agama lizard is one of the many lizard species in Masai Mara. Both males and females are usually pale brown in color. However, during mating season (September to December) the male temporarily develops vibrant red markings to attract the female.

Agama lizards are common and widespread in Masai Mara and can be spotted lounging in the sun in rocky areas.

The Jackson’s Chameleon


The Jackson’s Chameleon is recognizable by its bright green color and long tail. They grow up to thirteen inches long, with the tail making up half of their length.

The males are unique in having three horns, whereas females only have one. The males use their horns to protect their territory against rival chameleons.

Other Frequently Asked Questions About Masai Mara National Reserve

Considering everything Masai Mara has to offer, you might want to know more before planning your safari. Read on for some additional information about Masai Mara National Reserve.

How Many Animals are in Masai Mara National Reserve?

The Masai Mara National Reserve is home to an extensive list of wildlife species. There are around four hundred and fifty animal species, including giraffes, hippos, zebras and a variety of antelopes.


What Are the Big 5 Game Animals That Can be Seen at Masai Mara National Reserve?

The African Big 5 includes lions, leopards, African elephants, rhinoceros and buffalos. These and many more majestic animals can be seen in Masai Mara.

Which Are the Best Months to Visit the Masai Mara National Reserve?

Masai Mara has pleasant weather, blue skies and beautiful scenery all year round. The best months to visit are between June and October, as this is the time of year when the most wildlife can be observed.

Where Are the Most Animals in Masai Mara National Reserve?

The grasslands along the Mara River are a great area to spot a variety of these animals, and the reserve offers different tours and safaris.


The Masai Mara National Reserve is a definite must-see for wildlife enthusiasts! To get the most out of your trip to the Masai Mara National Reserve, read our guide to the best tours and safaris in Kenya.

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