Wildlife in Chobe

A Chobe safari (bush drive) is the best way to experience some of Africa’s biggest populations of big game.  Some of the wildlife I saw on my recent trip can be found at this link. The sub-pages to this page will give you a checklist to work from as well as links to articles or photos showing specific animals at this site.


If it’s mammals that you want to see, Chobe will not disappoint you. The park boasts an amazing diversity of mammal species and is renowned for the ease with which you can get close to them – perfect for photography.

Large mammals

Chobe is of course well known for elephants. Herds are found all over the park and you can watch them from the comfort of your game drive vehicle or lodge waterhole.

A favorite site for any bush drive are lions. Prides are found throughout the park and often differ in behavior and predation style. The other big cats are also common in Chobe: the open grasslands and floodplains support cheetah, while the thick scrub, rocky outcrops and riverine forest are the place to look for leopard.

Botswana remains the last bastion of hope for the survival of a remarkable animal, the African wild dog. Its global population decimated to around 2,000 individuals, in Chobe you’ll see what is rarely spotted elsewhere in Africa. The Savuti and surrounding open areas are particularly good for sightings of wild dog packs, particularly in the rainy season when the impala and zebra drop their young.

Chobe’s other great predator, with each trip I have seen the spotted hyena  If one travels to the western end of Chobe and on to Savuti, the hyena become even more common.

The river and swamp systems support great numbers of hippopotamus as well as the semi-aquatic antelope – the puku, red lechwe and rare sitatunga. In total, some 19 species of antelope occur in the park, from the 700kg eland to the 7kg Sharpe’s grysbok.

Other big mammals common to Chobe are herds of Burchell’s zebra, family groups of giraffe and huge herds of buffalo.

Smaller mammals

In their rush to see the Big Five, people often neglect the equally fascinating smaller mammals of Chobe: playful and curious baboons and vervet monkeys, the bad-tempered warthog , the opportunistic jackal hovering at the fringes of a lion kill… Of the smaller cats, caracal, serval and African wild cat are elusive but occasionally seen as they stalk rodents or birds.

Keep an eye out for the rarities – I have spotted the honey badgers, known for their bristling with aggression, families of banded mongoose on a foraging for food and have heard of others spotting aardvarks and pangolins dashing for cover.

Birds are wildlife too

With its blend of different habitats, the Chobe National Park is without question a birder’s paradise – some 450 species have been recorded here. Many factors influence bird distribution in Chobe and at certain times some areas offer exceptional birding.

The rainy season, October to March, is an excellent time. Then, along with its resident bird species, Botswana accommodates large numbers of migrants, both intra-African and palaearctic. In addition, 64 Southern African endemics are found in Botswana with most of these occurring in Chobe.

The Chobe River lies in a region with 400 recorded species. Water, wetland, grassland, forest and scrub provide habitats for large numbers of storks and cranes, wildfowl and waders, pelicans, owls, raptors and vultures, kingfishers, gulls and terns, warblers, robins, swallows, swifts and martins. The area is a crossover zone for species usually found outside the region and rarities and vagrants are often spotted here.

Inland, there are addition great birds from the huge kori bustard to the colorful lilac breasted roller.  I came to the park for large predators, but I have to admit, after a few days in the park, I found myself keeping an eye out for the unique avian life also.