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Wildlife and Birds - animals in Tanzania

From the mighty Big Five to the tiny dung beetle. A fascinatingly diverse world of wildlife and birds awaits you in Tanzania. One third of Tanzania is occupied by protected habitats, including marine reserves. These vast habitats provide a home to numerous species of wildlife. Today, you can enjoy some of the best wildlife spotting here. This page will give you an overview of some of the animals in Tanzania.

Two elephants Tanzania wildlife



Lion sightings are incredibly exciting. In their presence you appreciate their size, hunting-intelligence and family dynamics. Sadly, lion populations have declined by 43%; become extinct in several African countries; and are classified as vulnerable. Chances to see lions are best in the following national parks:

The Ruaha National Park and surrounding ecosystem is home to 10% of Tanzania’s total lion population. During the dry-season they move closer to water sources, making the chance of seeing them very possible.

The Serengeti National Park has ~24 resident prides of lions and it is likely to see them here.

Ngorongoro Crater is home to ~five prides and many visitors get to see them here. No new males crossing from outside of the crater rim and into the caldera is a concern to conservationists. The lack of new bloodlines may be leading to inbred prides of lions.

Katavi National Park receives so few visitors that the lions are less habituated to humans. Their wildness is obvious and exciting.


Due to their solitary behaviour and fantastic camouflage leopards are one of the most elusive cats to see on a safari. With a bit of good luck, you may spot them in the following places:

The Serengeti National Park is one of the best places to see leopard in Tanzania. They can often be found close to the Seronera River.

Ruaha National Park is also one of the best places to see leopards in Tanzania. The population is not very large, however, their territories along the Ruaha River are known to the guides, who will try to seek them out for you.

Tarangire National Park as well as Ngorongoro Crater are also good places to see leopards in Tanzania.

Lioness on tree

A female lion resting on a dead tree trunk in the Serengeti National Park.


The rumble from one elephant to another is a noise which feels like it passes through you. Look into their eyes for an unquestionable understanding of their famed intelligence.

Along with the Serengeti National Park and Lake Mayara National Park, Tarangire National Park is one the best places to see elephants in northern Tanzania. During the dry seasons one of Tanzania’s largest populations of elephants congregate near to the Tarangire River and the park becomes an elephant lover’s paradise.

Ruaha National Park is also one of the best places to see elephants. You can see vast numbers here during the dry season. Some travelling great distances to reach the Ruaha River.


The rhino is one of Africa’s rarest animals. In Tanzania you can only see the Black Rhino, however plans exist to re-introduce the White Rhino. Black Rhino can be very hard to spot, due to their love of living amongst the scrub.

Ngorongoro Crater is possibly the best place to see Black Rhino in Tanzania. The crater floor is home to a healthy population and they are relatively easy to see here.

Mkomazi National Park is also a great place to see Black Rhino thanks to the rhino conservation project that has existed since 1989.

Nyerere National Park can be a place to see Black Rhino, but they are rare. Our guides can sometimes track them down. Especially during the dry season, when they are found closer to water sources.

Serengeti National Park has a small population of rhinos. The dry-season is the best time to see them.


Large, powerful and intriguing, the African buffalo is such an amazing animal to see on a safari. With few predators’ buffalos can be seen in the majority of national parks. However, for exceptional buffalo viewing you could consider:

Katavi National Park is Tanzania’s third largest park and it borders several huge game reserves. During the dry-season vast numbers of animals are drawn from miombo woodlands and open-plains to congregate along the Katuma river. Some of the largest herds of buffalo can be seen here.

Nyerere National Park is part of a huge ecosystem in southern Tanzania and during the dry season large numbers of buffalos locate near to the Rufiji River.

Mikumi National Park close to Dar es Salaam is another huge national park where you are very likely to see large herds of buffalos.



Seeing a group of galloping giraffe, moving through the plains is an unforgettable sight. When you stop to observe them closely you will notice that these tree-scaping herbivores are so beautiful and intriguing.

Lucky you can see giraffe in the majority of parks in Tanzania. But it may surprise you to learn that many giraffe species are endangered.

The Serengeti National Park is the place where you can take iconic photos of these animals. Mikumi National Park will also interest giraffe lovers, because there is said to be a species of giraffe that is the link between the Masai Giraffe and Reticulated Giraffe.

Even Arusha National Park is home to a healthy population of giraffes and one of the best places to see them.

There are no giraffes in the Ngorongoro Crater – the crater slopes are too steep for the long-legged mammal to descend into the crater.

Animals in Tanzania three giraffes


The charismatic hippo is seen in nearly every national park in Tanzania. Whilst stopping at a river you will most likely hear them before you see them. Rising from the water they let out a loud snort of air, followed by a deep call.

For a real hippo spectacle, you could consider a fly-in-safari to Katavi National Park. During the peak of the dry-season hundreds of hippos are forced into muddy pools. Here they wait until the rains return to Tanzania. At the same time numerous Nile crocodiles group in the caves along the river. The numbers of hippos and crocodiles are staggering.

Wildebeest and other antelopes

Thanks to the phenomenal wildebeest migration, wildebeest are probably the most famous antelope in Africa.

Visit the Serengeti National Park to see ~1.5 million wildebeest moving through the landscape. July is the best time to see the river-crossing at the Mara River. January to February is their calving season and from May to June the wildebeest rut, or mating season occurs. Mid-May is the best time see the river-crossing at the Grumeti River.

Eland, greater kudus, Lichtenstein’s hartebeest, roan antelope and the very charismatic dik-dik are a few of the numerous species of antelopes in Tanzania.


Zebras are an iconic member of plains-life and you can see them throughout Tanzania. Interestingly they accompany wildebeest throughout their migration. Seen in large numbers, you can see how effective their black and white patterns are at making it difficult to pick out individuals in the group. Whilst a number of zebra drinking at the river can make for an excellent photographic opportunity.


The cheetah is the fastest animal on the plains and is an elegant looking cat. Whilst being effective hunters, they often lose their catch to larger stronger predators who have been watching the cheetah hunting.

The call from a cheetah may surprise you. It makes a type of chirping call and when you have heard it once, you will always recognise it on the plains.

Despite their diminishing numbers, the best place to see cheetah in Tanzania is in the Serengeti National Park and Ngorongoro Crater in northern Tanzania.

In the south of Tanzania cheetahs are very rare. The best place to see cheetah on the southern-circuit is the Ruaha National Park.


Lilac-Breasted Roller Bird

The Lilac-Breasted Roller is a dazzling icon on the plains and you will likely spot it regularly during a safari to Tanzania. They are unmistakable thanks to their multicoloured chest and Kingfisher-like beak. In flight their lilac colours are unmistakable.

Great White Pelican

The first thing that goes through your mind when you see this incredibly huge bird flying through the sky is, ‘How is such an enormous bird capable of flying?’ You can see this incredible bird at Lake Manyara National Park and the Serengeti National Park, but also the Ngorongoro Crater.

Pelicans birds Lake Manyara

Pelicans standing in shallow water at Lake Manyara.

Marabou Stork

Nobody ever talks about this bird. However, it is vital to the ecosystem. Plus, you are bound to see it during a Tanzanian safari. The reason being, is that the Marabou Stork is probably the ugliest bird you will see on a safari. Stork sized, this bird has a bald head, rough reddish skin and an ugly-sack hanging from its neck. It is not pretty. However, it clears the carrion and waste from the eco-system – an essential role in nature. Whilst travelling through Tanzania you are likely to also see it feeding in piles of rubbish.

Hadada Ibis

Again, this may not be the prettiest bird, but we mention it, because you will definitely hear it during a visit to Tanzania. Being a large brown bird, the only thing striking about how it looks is an iridescent green stripe on its wings and a long-curved bill.

You will ask yourself, ‘What is the bird making the loud trumpet like call in Tanzania?’ The answer is the Hadada Ibis.You can commonly  see and hear it throughout your trip. You may even see it in Tanzania cities and towns.

Fish Eagle

This is a beautiful eagle with an unmistakable call and you a very likely to see and hear it during your journey. It is a large brown eagle with a white head and tail and a distinct yellow beak. You can see it near rivers and lakes and you can hear its cry regularly on a safari to Tanzania.


Birding guide Tanzania


If you are an avid bird lover and want to focus on birdlife during your safari, let us know during the booking process. We will make sure to allocate an expert guide for you who is a birding enthusiast himself.

Lion paws closeup
Arno Snellenberg Tanzania Travel Expert
Tanzania-Experience safari vehicle

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