Animals

These are the animals that visitors to Plettenberg Bay Game Reserve can expect to see on a two-hour game drive in an open 4×4 Landrover or on a horseback safari …

  • Africa lion – Lions are unique in that they are the only cats to live in groups, or prides. They are the largest member of the cat family and the largest of all the African carnivores and the top predator in any African ecosystem.
    The Reserve presently has one adult male lion and three lionesses.
  • African buffalo – The Reserve boasts an excellent herd of African buffalo also known as the Cape buffalo, a savanna-type buffalo which is one of the most successful grazers in Africa.
  • Baboon – These terrestrial or ground dwelling primates are found in open savanna, open woodland and hills across Africa. Their diet is omnivorous, but mostly vegetarian, yet they eat insects and occasionally prey on fish, shellfish, hares, birds, vervet monkeys, and small antelopes.
  • Blue Wildebeest – a large ungulate mammal of the Bovid family and one of two species of wildebeest. It grows to 1.7 m at shoulder height and attains a body mass of up to 380 kg. This herbivore is a grazing animal that is often sighted in open grasslands or clearings in a savanna. The name blue wildebeest derives from a conspicuous silvery blue sheen to his short haired hide, differentiating this species from the plainer black genus member black wildebeest. The name “gnu” originates from the Khoikhoi name for these animals, “gnou”.
  • Bontebok – Found in South Africa and Lesotho the species on the occurs naturally in the Western Cape. A chocolate brown colour, it has a white underside and a white stripe from the forehead to the tip of the nose and a distinctive white patch around its tail. They are not good jumpers but are very good at crawling under things.
  • Bushpig – a very hairy member of the pig family that lives in forest thickets, riverine vegetation and reedbeds close to water. They are mainly nocturnal and are seldom seen during the day. Unlike the Warthog, the bushpig runs with its tail down. They are omnivorous and their diet could include roots, crops, carrion, as well as newborn lambs.
  • Cape grysbok – a small antelope endemic to the Western Cape region, it has a rough, reddish sandy coat flecked in white. There is a black bridge to the nose and a dark scent gland in front of the eye. The tail is almost invisible (4-8 cm). Males have short, sharp, straight horns about 8 cm long. It can fluff out the fur at its rear end to make itself look bigger and is a browser able to go without drinking water for long periods.
  • Caracal – The caracal or African lynx is a fiercely territorial medium-sized cat which takes its name from its black ears. It is amongst the heaviest of all small cats, as well as the fastest.
  • Crocodile – these large aquatic reptiles live throughout the tropics in Africa and are found on the Reserve.
  • Eland – a savanna and plains antelope found in eastern and southern Africa, they are the world’s largest antelopes. The name is derived from the Dutch word for moose.. Females have a tan coat, while males have a darker tan coat with a blueish-grey tinge. There may also be a series of white stripes vertically on the sides of bulls. Males have dense fur on their foreheads and a large dewlap. Both sexes have horns, about 65 cm long and with a steady spiral ridge.
  • Gemsbok – The gemsbok or gemsbuck is a large African antelope which lives in herds of about 10-40 animals consisting of a dominant male, a few non-dominant males, and females. They often live in association with zebras, gazelles or other antelopes. The female’s horns may be curved but the male’s are thicker and parallel. Male gemsbok have been known to gore attacking lions with their horns.
  • Giraffe – The tallest of all mammals, they are an average of 6 ft at birth! Known for their long necks and legs and spotted patterns, each giraffe has its own unique pattern. Their long necks help them to eat leaves from tall trees, typically acacia trees. Their tongues can be as long as 45 cm. If they need to, giraffes can go for several days without water, relying on the moisture content in the leaves they feed on.
  • Hippo – The river hippopotamus is the world’s third largest and heaviest land animal, weighing up to 4,000 kg. They have thin skin that dies out quickly and secrete oil that keeps their skin moist. They spend most of their days in the water or wallowing in the mud, generally coming up on land to feed at night. River hippos are one of the most feared animals in southern Africa. It is claimed that every year more people are killed by them than by any other African animal.
  • Honey badger – also known by the Afrikaans name, ratel, have been named the most fearless animal in the Guinness Book of World Records for a number of years. Similar in size and build to the European badger, they are heavily built, with a broad head, small eyes, virtually no external ears, and a relatively blunt snout. There is a considerable difference between the sizes of the male and female, with males sometimes weighing up to twice as much as females. They are fierce carnivores with an extremely keen sense of smell and are well known for their snake killing abilities. They have a great appetite for beehives.
  • Impala – a medium-sized African antelope found in savannas and thick bushveld, its average mass is 75 kilograms. They are reddish-brown in color with lighter flanks, have white underbellies and a characteristic “M” marking on its rear. Males have lyre-shaped horns which can reach up to 90 cm in length. Herds will use specific areas for their excrement. They are active during both day and night and are dependent on water, so a herd is normally an indicator of water close by. The black-faced impala is a subspecies of the impala which is native to Angola and Namibia.
  • Kudu – this large antelope has acute senses and is in the main a browser, eating a varied diet of leaves, pods, fruits and grass. When alarmed the call is a loud bark. Cows and bulls move in separate herds.
  • Leopard – One of many spotted cats, a leopard may be mistaken for a cheetah, although it has rosettes rather than simple spots and is larger and less lanky. It is known for its ability to climb and is often observed resting on tree branches during the day. It is also very agile, and can run over 60 km an hour. Primarily a nocturnal creature, it spends much of its day resting and sleeping in the branches of trees, underneath rocks or in the grass.
  • Mountain reedbuck – Found in mountainous areas of much of sub-Saharan Africa and are slightly smaller thank the common or southern reedbuck, with a grey coat, white underbelly and reddish-brown head and shoulders. It forms herds of around five individuals, including a single mature male. Adolescent males are forced out of their herds and form small bachelor herds. In the dry season, the mountain reedbuck sometimes forms herds of up to thirty individuals.
  • Nyala – This spiral-horned dense-forest antelope is uncomfortable in open spaces and is most often seen at water holes. They live alone or in small family groups of up to 10. The male has loosely spiralled horns and a long fringe on throat and underparts; the female has no horns and no noticeable fringe.
  • Red hartebeest – The hartebeest is a grassland antelope. Males are a dark brown colour while females are yellow brown. Both sexes have horns which can reach lengths up to 70 cm. They live in grassland and open forest and are diurnal, spending day eating grass.
  • Reedbuck – The southern or common reedbuck is an antelope with grey-brown coats, a white underbelly and black forelegs. Males have ridged horns of around 35 cm which grow backwards and then curve forwards. The eat grasses and reeds. Old males are territorial, living with a single female, which they follow at all times to prevent it having contact with rival males. Females and young males are usually solitary, except in the dry season, when they sometimes form herds of up to twenty individuals out of necessity. They are diurnal, but inactive during the heat of the day.
  • Scrub hare – A species of hare found in South Africa, parts of central Africa, and Namibia. Its dorsal fur is gray and black, while its ventral fur is white. It has a black and white tail, and lighter fur around its face. Females are typically larger than males. The average mass at birth is 115 grams. Parental care is low-level and short-lived. Hares in captivity have been known to survive for six to seven years, while those in the wild usually do not make it past their first year. It attempts to escape predators by remaining motionless until the last moment, then run in a zigzag pattern. It is often infested with lice and fleas.
  • Springbok – This medium sized brown and white gazelle stands about 75 cm high and can reach running speeds of up to 90 km/h and can leap 3,50 m high and up to 15 m in length. They used to be very common, forming some of the largest herds of mammals ever documented, but their numbers have diminished significantly since the 19th century due to hunting and fences from farms blocking their migratory routes.
  • Vervet monkey– Mainly frugivorous, it supplements its diet with leaves, seeds, insects and small rodents. Until recently it was classified as vermin in South Africa, allowing it to be shot without a permit. It commonly lives in troops of 20 or more and its gestation period is 7 months with a single offspring produced. It has a life span of up to 20 years. Interestingly it appears to possess the rudiments of language, and its alarm calls vary depending on the type of threat. There are distinct calls to warn of invading leopards, snakes and eagles.
  • Wildebeest – Also know as the gnu, it is considered to be an antelope. Female wildebeest (cows) are smaller than the male and have both have horns.
  • Water mongoose – A medium-sized mammal weighing 2.5-4.1 kg, with a body measuring 46-62 cm-53 cm), it is found has a preference for permanent freshwater habitats bordered by dense vegetation, such as marshes and reed beds. The paws, unwebbed with underdeveloped pads, are soft and sensitive, resembling those of a raccoon. The claws are short and blunt and used for digging. It is a voracious carnivore, consuming any form of meat it can catch, as well as a wide variety of fruit.
  • Waterbuck – A medium sized antelope with reddish brown coats which become progressively darker with age. They have a white bib under their throats and a white ring on their rumps surrounding their tails. The long spiral structured horns, found only in males, sweep back and up. Despite its name, the waterbuck does not spend much time in the water, but will take refuge there to escape predators.
  • White rhino – Plettenberg Bay Game Reserve is the largest sanctuary for white rhino is the area, with five adults on the property. The white rhino has a more prominent square lip than a black rhino and are larger but not as aggressive.
  • Zebra – The species on Plettenberg Bay Game Reserve is the Plains/Burchell’s Zebra. Related to the horse, a Burchell’s Zebra is of stocky build with wide black and white stripes that run diagonally and lengthways on the rump and belly, all the way down to hooves. The mane is upright and striped to match the neck. The tail is striped with a dark tassel.