Sabi Sand Wildlife Checklist

Posted on April 19, 2023

A veritable ‘Garden of Eden’ adjoining the famous Kruger National Park, Sabi Sand Game Reserve shares much of the incredible biodiversity that Kruger is known for.

This unspoilt corner of the Greater Kruger Conservation Area, Sabi Sand is home to an astonishing 505 bird and 148 mammal species. The Big 5 are just the tip of the iceberg of wildlife found in the Sabi Sand.

Just take a look at our Animal Checklist below to see the incredible diversity in the reserve.

sabi sand wildlife

The Big 5 in the Sabi Sand Game Reserve


The Sabi Sand Game Reserve is renowned for fantastic and regular sightings of all of the Big 5 – lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo and rhino. Seeing the Big 5 within Sabi is significant as it was in the Sabi Sand where the hunting concept of the dangerous ‘Big 5’ was re-imagined as a photographic safari term.

So successful has the Big 5 concept been marketed in photographic safaris, it is now a bucket-list item for most visitors on safari in Africa. The Sabi Sand offers the best of both worlds: game which can come and go as it pleases – as well as limited visitor numbers, offering you excellent Big 5 game viewing in an uncrowded area.

Other game viewing highlights in Sabi Sand


Today, there are nearly 150 mammal species, over 500 recorded bird species and a whopping 330 tree species recorded in the Sabi Sand.

Endangered wildlife has slowly been reintroduced into the reserve and a highlight for many is seeing African wild dog. Second only to the Ethiopian wolf, the wild dog is Africa’s most endangered predator. The lack of fences has allowed these nomadic dogs to flourish in the Sabi Sand and you will see the excitement on your guide’s face when there is news of a wild dog sighting.

Other game viewing highlights in Sabi Sands include cheetah, black-backed jackal, hyena, hippo, kudu, nyala, zebra, giraffe and many more.

Conservation and Wildlife Management

The lodges in the Sabi Sand Game Reserve work hand-in-hand with Kruger National Park in environmental management and conservation programmes to ensure the well-being of all the wildlife species in the park.

Projects include alien plant control, combating erosion, monitoring of wildlife and habitat densities, anti-poaching efforts and fire control management.

Since the fences came down between Kruger National Park and the Sabi Sand Game Reserve in the 1990s, the thousands of animals which live in the area have been free to wander as they have for millennia.

Kruger’s last census estimated there to be over 1600 lion, 1000 leopard, 120 cheetah and wild dog and about 13 000 elephant.

Sabi Sands game viewing

The Sabi Sand is arguably the most impressive jewel in the crown of the Greater Kruger Area. Fantastic wildlife, coupled with a temperate climate, easy access from Johannesburg and some of the best safari lodges in the business makes it easy to understand why first timers and seasoned safari-goers return year after year.

If you’d like to enquire about your stay in Sabi Sands at Leopard Hills, please don’t hesitate to contact our friendly team via email at or fill in our online booking form here. We look forward to welcoming you to our favourite part of the Kruger Area.

Image credits: 
Cal Butler
Johan de la Rey
Heinrich Rontgen

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