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    How many animals are there in Serengeti?

    11 minutes read
    animals in serengeti national park

    The Serengeti ecosystem is vast, comprising several game reserves and parks. There are also countless animals in the Serengeti that you should watch out for!

    This part of Africa is in Northern Tanzania and advances to South Western Kenya. On top of that, the wildlife found lazing across the Serengeti plains is very diverse, with endless lists of wildlife that will blow your mind. 

    You may have seen the wildlife books, but nothing prepares you for the REAL DEAL! At this stunning African Safari destination, you can leisurely view several animals in the Serengeti, such as big cats, wild dogs, spotted hyenas, Grant’s gazelle, black rhino, and other animals in the open plains of Serengeti.

    Furthermore, this world-renowned ecoregion is the location for some of the world’s most breathtaking mass game migrations. An estimated 1.3 million blue wildebeest, 200,000 plains zebra, and 400,000 Thomson’s gazelle migrate between the Serengeti and the Southern Acacia-Commiphora Bushlands ecoregion annually.

    The great migration continues despite a devastating rinderpest outbreak in the late 19th century and the nonselective hunting of the European settlers in the early 20th century.

    The area depicts Africa’s last remnant of a large mammal-dominated ecosystem since the Pleistocene. It is relatively well protected within game reserves and national parks, but the black rhinoceros populations have decreased significantly to the point of being endangered due to illegal hunting.

    However, there are still small populations of black rhinos among the animals in the Serengeti National Park today, so don’t get discouraged when hoping to witness these unique creatures. So, hold on to your seat as we delve deeper into the wildlife seen in the Serengeti and why this is one of the most amazing places in the world for an African Safari.

    The animals in the Serengeti

    Many animals are there in the serengeti

    As you might already know, the Serengeti or its enclosed Serengeti National Park is rich in wildlife and various birdlife. The park is spectacular all year round. 

    However, expect to witness giraffeselephants, lions, hyenas, cheetahs, wildebeests, and many more during the dry season! If you’re planning to take on a Serengeti adventure, it’s best to have an experienced guide to help and guide you during your Serengeti exploration.

    Now, let’s move on to the animals you can witness at the Serengeti. Remember to check out our Serengeti Tours.

    What are the Big 5?

    The big five

    The big five—Buffalo, Lion, Leopard, African Elephant, and Rhinoceros- can be found within the Serengeti ecosystem, particularly in the Serengeti National Park. The Big Five illustrates the ultimate African safari experience: seeing these remarkable animals roaming freely in the open grasslands.

    However, why are those particular animals part of the Big Five? To explain this briefly, big—game hunters coined the term ‘Big Five’ and are not derived from animal size.

    Those animals proved to be the most challenging to hunt, mainly due to their ferocity when cornered. It’s delightful to know that these Big Five in the Serengeti are now ONLY allowed to be ‘shot’ by a camera. You’ll get many opportunities to take pictures of these incredible animals with the help of your driver guide.



    An incredible experience surely awaits you when you visit the Serengeti in Tanzania! This is due to the diverse animals in protected areas, including the African Buffalo.

    The buffalo is among Africa’s most dangerous animal species, with only a few predators, like lions. But a lion usually only sometimes preys on mature buffalo. Usually, it focuses only on their calves with a price to pay later when angry herds strike for revenge.

    These animals are often found in waterholes as they must drink water daily. In the Serengeti, Buffalo come in immense numbers, and there’s a good possibility you’ll witness hundreds of thousands of them among other wildebeest if you visit for the annual migration.

    It is believed that there are over 30,000 buffalo and over 1.2 million wildebeest in the Serengeti. 

    Looking to witness these magnificent beasts yourself? Browse our Serengeti Tours.


    Tanzania - lions - how many animals are there in serengeti?

    The lion is the king of the African savannah—so seeing these animals in their habitat will leave you with memories you will be telling for years! The Serengeti is home to some enormous pride of lions, which are relatively easy to spot.

    Lions live in a pride, comprising two to 40 lions since they are remarkably social animals. The females hunt more than the males in a group but scavenge if they get the chance since they like napping under a tree.

    The lion population in Serengeti is now over 3000.

    Lions live in a pride, comprising of two to 40 lions since they are remarkably social animals. The females hunt more than the males in a group but scavenge if they get the chance since they like napping under a tree.

    The lion population in Serengeti is now over 3000.


    Tanzania - leopard 1 - how many animals are there in serengeti?

    Leopards are among the big cats in East Africa, Serengeti National Park, and other national parks. Often hard to spot, guests are told they are fortunate when they witness one of these majestic felines in the wild. 

    Whilst not as fast as Cheetahs, these cats are fast runners with the potential of running 58 kilometres per hour. They move gracefully but are ferocious with their hunting techniques.

    When scouting for one during your stay, check the trees above, as they are usually found lazing around on a branch. There are about five leopards per 100 km square in Serengeti.

    African elephant

    Tanzania - african elephant 1 - how many animals are there in serengeti?

    The African elephant is the world’s largest land mammal. Having the chance to see one in its natural habitat is exciting and fulfilling. These grey, gentle giants roam the Serengeti plains and vanish into the woodlands in the Serengeti.

    Female elephants live in tight-knit clans, and family bonds usually last for 50 years. Males often leave the family after 12 years and roam separately or form a herd.

    Elephants frequently visit waterholes, such as the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, close to the lodges and can be seen by the dozen in the Serengeti. They’re pretty peaceful when left alone but can be alarmingly dangerous when they feel threatened. Imagine being chased by this gigantic animal with over 7,000 kilos in weight!

    There are over 7000 elephants in Serengeti. Learn more about Elephants.


    Tanzania - rhinocerous - how many animals are there in serengeti?

    Rhinos are heavyweight animals weighing 2,500 kilos and come in two types—the Black and White rhino. Nonetheless, the White Rhino is not white but grey.

    The term ‘white’ was misunderstood after early Dutch settlers used the word ‘wijd’ (wide), referring to its wide lips. Moreover, the rhino’s horn is worth more than its weight in gold.

    However, the rhino population in the Serengeti ecosystem has suffered primarily due to poaching—illegal trafficking and killing of these beautiful animals. Since the female rhino only gives birth to a calf once every five years, seeing rhinos in the Serengeti National Park can be challenging.

    However, with an experienced guide, they will help to track down Rhinos in the Serengeti. There are an estimated 160 rhinos left in Serengeti.

    Other animals in the Serengeti

    Tanzania - animals in the serengeti - how many animals are there in serengeti?

    The Serengeti has fantastic animal varieties due to its unique transition area. The distinct transformation from rich flat soils in the Southern plains to the destitute hilly grounds in the North leads to a remarkable diversity of habitats and vegetation across the park.

    One of its unique habitats is the riverine forests—a favourite spot for crocodiles and hippos. Other common animals that you can see in the Serengeti are giraffes and many other migrating ungulates, such:

    • Eland
    • Topi
    • Zebra
    • Kongoni
    • Grant’s Gazelle
    • Impala
    • Cheetah
    • Hyena

    In addition, there’s also a high possibility of seeing wild African dogs, vervet monkeys, and olive baboons through the woodlands along the Grumeti River.

    Olive baboons are particularly abundant in the Western corridor.

    In the rivers shaded by forest trees lie giant crocodiles of the Grumeti and Mara rivers, where millions of wildebeests cross in the great wildebeest migration. You can also enjoy the Serengeti game reserve and its wildlife viewing.

    Moreover, seeing big cats is highly possible in the southeastern plains and other parts of Serengeti. If big cats are your top priority… Then the Serengeti is best for you!

    Are you keen to learn more about the Serengeti? Then this is for you: What is so special about the Serengeti?

    Getting you there

    Booking a tour to the Serengeti is a great decision; there is so much to offer to witness one of the best African Safari locations or the Great Wildebeest Migration. The wildebeest migration is the annual movement of millions of wildebeest, accompanied by enormous numbers of Grant’s gazelle, Thompson’s gazelle, zebra, elands, and impalas across the greater Masai Mara-Serengeti ecosystem.

    Browse our Migration Tours.

    The Serengeti is open and active all year round for wildlife viewing, including big cats and young calves during the calving season. So, whether it’s the wet or dry season, you can still enjoy and have an incredible experience in seeing the stunning sceneries of the Serengeti and the wild animals it offers.

    If you plan to visit the Serengeti soon, having a trusted local tour operator like Easy Travel arrange the tour for you is best. We have our tailor-made tours to ensure your African expedition is undoubtedly one to remember.

    Contact us today and talk to one of our safari experts to make your Serengeti dream tour a reality!

    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

    What animals make up the Big Five in the Serengeti?

    The Big Five consists of lions, leopards, elephants, rhinos, and Cape buffaloes. These animals earned this title due to their popularity and difficulty in hunting. Visitors to the Serengeti can witness interactions between these species in the wild.

    While on a safari, you might glimpse lions resting under a tree, elephants roaming in families, or a secretive leopard hiding among the foliage. Rhinos are endangered, and sightings are rare, but conservation efforts are in place to protect them.

    Cape buffaloes often gather in large herds, showcasing their characteristic curved horns.

    When is the Great Wildebeest Migration in the Serengeti?

    The Great Migration is a year-round phenomenon featuring over 1.5 million wildebeest, 200,000 zebras, and hundreds of thousands of gazelles. Exact timings may vary each year depending on the rainfall pattern.

    Generally, the wildebeest move clockwise from the Ndutu area in January-February, heading northwards through Serengeti National Park and reaching Kenya’s Masai Mara by July-August. In late October and November, they cross the Mara River back south into Tanzania, where the cycle begins anew.

    How many lions live in the Serengeti?

    The Serengeti is believed to host Africa’s largest lion population, estimated at approximately 3,000 individuals. They are social animals living in groups known as prides, consisting of up to 30 lions.

    These prides have a complex social structure; each member plays a vital role in hunting, reproducing, and defending their territory. Visitors to the Serengeti often have the opportunity to observe the fascinating social dynamics of these magnificent big cats.

    What types of antelopes can be found in the Serengeti?

    Several species of antelopes can be spotted in the Serengeti, including the Thomson’s gazelle, Grant’s gazelle, impala, dik-dik, topi, hartebeest, and eland. Thomson’s gazelles are smaller and easily recognized by their black stripe along their flanks.

    Grant’s gazelles are larger and lack the black stripe. These beautifully graceful creatures are known for their impressive agility and speed, providing exciting viewing experiences for safari-goers.

    What kind of plant life is found in the Serengeti?

    Serengeti’s vast and varied landscape is home to diverse plant life. Grassy savannas comprise most of the park, with acacia and miombo woodlands scattered throughout. In wetter areas, you can find swamps and water lilies.

    The varied vegetation sustains a myriad of herbivores that help shape the ecosystem. As you move through the park, the plant life may change according to altitude, rainfall, and soil composition.

    What major rivers run through the Serengeti?

    Three rivers flow through the Serengeti: the Grumeti, Mara, and Mbalageti. These rivers provide essential water sources for humans and animals in and around the park.

    During the Great Migration, the wildebeest and zebra herds must cross the Grumeti River from May to June and the Mara River between August to October. The river crossings are some of the most thrilling and dramatic events, often involving striking predator-prey interactions as crocodiles await passing herds.

    What is the role of scavengers like hyenas and vultures in Serengeti’s ecosystem?

    Scavengers, such as hyenas and vultures, play a crucial role in maintaining Serengeti’s ecosystem. They assist in breaking down and removing carcasses, which aids in controlling the spread of disease among animal populations.

    Hyenas, powerful predators in their own right, can quickly consume large amounts of meat, efficiently removing carcasses. Vultures are essential to cleaning up after the larger scavengers have finished feasting.

    Why are some species in the Serengeti endangered?

    Several factors contribute to certain species’ endangered status, including habitat loss, poaching, disease, and climate change. The rhinoceros is an endangered species in the Serengeti, impacted primarily by habitat loss and poaching for their valuable horns. Conservation organizations and park authorities are working to implement and enforce strategies to combat these threats and protect the endangered species that call the Serengeti home.

    Are there any daily or night-time rituals animals follow in their daily lives?

    Many animals in the Serengeti have specific daily routines depending on their genetics, habitat, and prey. Diurnal animals, like elephants, giraffes, and gazelles, are active during daylight hours, resting at night.

    Nocturnal species, such as leopards, civet cats, and bush babies, may sleep during the day and hunt under the cover of darkness. Visitors can even embark on a guided night safari to encounter some of these nocturnal creatures and observe their fascinating behaviours.

    What is the best time to visit the Serengeti for optimal wildlife viewing?

    Wildlife in the Serengeti is abundant all year long, but the best time to visit for optimal wildlife viewing is during the dry season, which runs from June to October. During this time, the weather is typically cooler, and animals gather around water sources, making them much easier to see.

    The Great Migration can be witnessed year-round, but the river crossings offer the most dramatic spectacles from May to October. Plan well in advance, as accommodation options may be limited during these peak travel months.

    What bird species can one expect to see in the Serengeti?

    The Serengeti is a birdwatcher’s paradise, with an estimated 500 bird species living within the park. Among them are vibrant lilac-breasted rollers, vulturine guineafowl, secretary birds, and various eagles, such as the martial and tawny eagle. 

    During the wet season (November to April), migratory birds arrive, adding even more diversity. This spectacle presents a fantastic opportunity for bird enthusiasts to spot new and rare species.

    Why is the Great Migration considered the world’s most significant wildlife event?

    The Great Migration is an annual journey of 1.5 million wildebeest, 200,000 zebras, and 300,000 Thomson’s gazelles across the Serengeti ecosystem. This mass movement of animals, followed by opportunistic predators, showcases the struggle for survival between predator and prey on a grand scale.

    The migration involves dramatic river crossings, complex challenges, and powerful displays of nature’s raw beauty. Its sheer size and scale make it a unique and captivating spectacle that attracts visitors from around the globe.

    What are the primary territorial predators in the Serengeti?

    Lions, leopards, cheetahs, and hyenas are the main territorial predators in the Serengeti. These predators have distinct hunting strategies and mainly focus on specific prey species.

    Lions use their strength and pride dynamics to catch larger prey, such as buffaloes, while leopards utilize their stealth and agility to ambush smaller animals. Cheetahs rely on their swiftness and acceleration to capture fleet-footed prey like gazelles. Hyenas can both hunt and scavenge to obtain food.

    How do the different species of animals communicate in the Serengeti?

    Communication varies greatly among Serengeti’s wildlife. For many species, vocal communication is essential. For example, lions roar to mark their territory, while elephants use low-frequency rumbles and trumpeting to relay messages over long distances.

    Body language is another crucial communication aspect; animals like impalas use visual cues such as tail flicks to convey information. Smell and pheromones also play a significant role in animal communication, with scent marking used for marking territory and reproductive availability.

    What efforts are being made to conserve the wildlife in the Serengeti?

    Conservation efforts in the Serengeti are multi-faceted, aiming to preserve the park’s rich biodiversity and support sustainable human-animal coexistence. The Tanzanian government, park authorities, and international and local nonprofit organizations work collectively to monitor and protect wildlife populations.

    These efforts include anti-poaching measures, environmental preservation initiatives, and community-based conservation programs. This multi-faceted approach is crucial to preserving Serengeti’s ecosystem and ensuring the future survival of its exceptional wildlife.

    Musaddiq Gulamhussein - Owner - Easy Travel Tanzania

    About the author: Musaddiq

    Meet Musaddiq Gulamhussein, owner of Easy Travel Tanzania, a tour company creating life-changing safari experiences for over 35 years. Musaddiq has explored Tanzania, developing a deep understanding of the local cultures and traditions. Follow his journey and gain insights into the African Safari experience through Easy Travel's social media and blog.

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