15 Best Animals in Zambezi National Park | Interesting Wildlife

October 18, 2022

Zambezi National Park is located in Zimbabwe, where the great Zambezi River shapes the park’s northern border. This river forms part of the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia. A large variety of mammals can be found in the park, as well as smaller species of game.

The Zambezi River inhabits over 75 species of fish, like the famous fighting tiger fish and the bream. Zambezi National Park offers a variety of activities, including game viewing, walking safaris, and beautiful picnic sites. 

Next read: Find the best luxury safaris for day trips and tours in Africa.

Zambezi River

Mammals in Zambezi National Park

There are various mammals to see in Zambezi National Park. You might even spot animals from your luxury African safari resort. Here are some luxury African safari resorts to keep an eye out for.

African Elephant

African elephants are the largest land mammals on earth. Their trunks are used for communication and handling objects, and their large ears allow for radiation of excess heat.

Elephant tusks are massive teeth used to aid feeding, digging roots, and fighting. These tusks are dangerous for elephants though, as they are made of ivory — a desired commodity by poachers.

Elephants are abundant in the dry season, making them a common sighting in the lower Zambezi National Park, along the fertile river banks and watering holes.



Lions have muscular bodies with powerful forelegs.They use their jaws and teeth for capturing prey. Lions have golden yellow coats, and the males have manes that range in color from red-brown to black. 

Most wild lions live in Africa, with only a small population existing in India. Lion cubs start off with spotty coats that disappear as they mature.

Lions can be found in the lower parts of Zambezi National Park. Along with spotted hyenas that are always looking to scavenge off these big cats.


Buffaloes are large mammals with a height of 5.5 feet at the shoulder and a great pair of horns on top of their heads. Male and female buffaloes have horns that they use for defense against predators like lions and other big cats. 

Buffalos can weigh between 662 and 1,984 lbs. There are approximately 30,000 buffaloes in the Zambezi National Park. They are also abundant in the lower parts of the park.



Leopards are large, powerful carnivores with long bodies, large heads, and fairly short legs. They use their tails for balance and are fast, running up to 36 m/h.

Leopards can be found in various locations worldwide, including India, China, Central Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. These are solitary creatures and spend most of their time alone, each guarding their own territories.


Giraffes are the world’s tallest mammals as a result of their long legs and towering necks. Their legs allow them to run up to 35 m/h. After 30 minutes of being born, giraffes are already standing. They also need minimal sleep of ten minutes to two hours a day.

Giraffes prefer the grasslands and are located away from the river, south of the park. They eat the leaves and buds on trees and shrubs. Their favorite food is grown on acacia trees.


Birds in Zambezi National Park

Discover some of the must-see birds in the Zambezi National Park.

African Skimmer

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

African skimmers are about 15 inches long. These birds can be found along the Zambezi River or in lagoons with sandbanks for nesting and roosting.

Collared Palm-Thrush 

The collared palm-thrush has a gray body, pale eyes and black marbling around the throat. They have a distinctive airy song and nest in cone-shaped structures built from mud and grassroots. These birds are found along rivers making the Zambezi River a suitable resting place.

Goliath Heron

The Goliath heron is about 4.9 feet tall and has a large, dagger-like bill for grabbing fish or other prey. They have gray and chestnut-colored feathers and long, strong legs. 

Goliath herons live in large rivers, marshes, estuaries and mangroves, making the Zambezi River a great site for this species.

Lanner Falcon

Adult lanner falcons have a gray back and a pale orange nape and crown. Young L]lanner falcons are dark brown. They are medium-sized birds of prey preferring open habitats and preying on bats and birds. 

These birds can be found in the grasslands or open planes of Zambezi National Park located south of the river. 

lanner falcon

Long-Toed Lapwing

The long-toed lapwing is a long-legged shorebird. It has a bold, white face and throat, a black nape and breast band. These birds can be found in pairs or on their own. Their habitat consists of wetlands with vegetation where they can feed on aquatic insects. 

They will be located along the Zambezi River and any mudflats or lagoon areas. Long-toed lapwings feed on aquatic insects, like odonata and other insects like larvae, beetles, nymphs and small snails.

Reptiles in Zambezi National Park

Reptiles are found on all continents except for Antarctica. Discover the reptiles found in Zambezi National Park.

Nile Crocodile

The Nile crocodile is a large reptile with a long muscular tail and short legs. Their bodies are rough and are dark olive to brown in color. And they have dark crossbands on their tails.

Crocodiles are the most vocal reptiles, and female crocodiles show great maternal care for their young. Crocs will be found along the Zambezi River and feed on anything ranging from fish to other reptiles and mammals.


Nile Monitor Lizard

Nile monitor lizards grow to about 55 inches in length and have powerful legs and claws. Their bodies are strong, with tough skin covered in small circular scales. 

They have a forked tongue and inhabit grasslands, marshes, mangroves, swamps and rivers. These reptiles can be found along the Zambezi riverbed and estuaries.

African Tortoise

The African tortoise is sand-colored with an oval shell along with thick skin and pointed scales. These tortoises prefer arid and semi-arid climates and grow to about 18 inches long. 

They can weigh up to 110 lbs and can live up to 70 years old. They will be found in the grassland regions of Zambezi National Park, further from the river. And they eat wild vegetables, fruits, plants and fungi.


Red-Sided Skink

This is a small, slender reptile and is indigenous to South Africa. It is usually located in coastal bush and leaf litter. They are brown in color with a red highlight running along their sides. 

These lizards mainly eat worms and crickets. Red-sided skinks can be found in the vegetation along the Zambezi River or in leafy terrain.


Terrapins are semi-aquatic turtles of slow-moving waters. They have a dark upper shell that is slightly domed and a pale lower shell. Their feet are webbed, and they tend to be solitary until breeding. You can find them in rivers, marshes, lagoons and lakes. 

Terrapins feed off of aquatic snails, crabs, and small bivalves including mussels and clams. They also eat worms, insects and fish.


Other Frequently Asked Questions About Zambezi National Park

Here are a few common questions about Zambezi National Park to help you plan the ideal trip.

How Many Animals Are in Zambezi National Park?

There are 378 species of animals found in Zambezi National Park.

Where Are the Most Animals in Zambezi National Park?

They are located in and around the Zambezi River where most animals thrive on the vegetation and resources found in the river.

What Is the Best Time to Visit Zambezi National Park?

July to October is the best time to visit Zambezi National Park because these months represent the middle and end of the dry season which is optimal for wildlife viewing. 

What Are the Big 5 Game Animals That Can Be Seen at Zambezi National Park?

Four of the Big Five animals are found in Zambezi National Park, including the lion, elephant, buffalo and leopard. 

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