Common animal names in local African languages

Ever wanted to find out how to say “zebra” in Swahili, or even “leopard” in Zulu? With the following table, you’ll be able to identify the most common animals of the African bush in some of the local languages of the old continent. Language translations include Afrikaans, Nama/Damara, Ndebele, Shona, Siswati, Swahili, Tswana, Venda and Zulu.

While the table is far from complete, it should give you a good overview of Common African Animal Names.

Download your FREE table below:

Enjoy! 😉

NB: Some of the names come from Clive Walker’s book “Signs of the Wild.” This compact field guide to the identification of Southern African mammals based on their spoor, droppings and skulls has been accepted as the standard work on the subject. This edition offers up-to-date information on identification through signs. Highly recommended! 🙂

Until next time, have a “fantabulous” day! 😉

Michael aka Africa Freak.


5 Responses to Common animal names in local African languages

  1. Pieter August 18, 2015 at 6:47 pm #

    This is a very valuable site!!

    What is the name for rabbit & hare In Zulu?

    Thank you for your help.

    • Michael Theys August 18, 2015 at 7:41 pm #

      Hare in Zulu is “logwaja”!

      Rabbit in Zulu is “unogwaja”!

      Hope this helps! 😉

  2. Michelle April 30, 2010 at 9:00 pm #

    I love this! I could have used it during my last trip through Kenya. Thanks for sharing this info.

    • Africafreak May 1, 2010 at 1:00 am #

      Hey guys! 🙂

      Thanks a million for the kind words, it’s always nice to hear that your work is appreciated! 🙂

      I must admit some of the animal names are “impossible” to pronounce…and I had to read them a couple of times before I could spell them correctly… 😉

      Btw, if anyone can fill in some of the blanks…please be my guest! 🙂

      Oh, and yeah, just thought I’d add a couple more translations just for the fun of it. Here it goes:

      Some of my Antelope favs! 🙂


      Afrikaans: Bosbok.
      Sotho: Tshoso.
      Ndebele, Zulu, Swazi, Xhosa: Imbabala.
      Shona: Dsoma.
      Shangaan: Mbvala.
      Venda: Mbavhala, Tshishosho.
      Lozi: Mbabala.
      Tswana: Serolobotlhoko.
      Yei: Ungulungu.
      Nama/Damara: !Garapiris.


      Afrikaans: Njala.
      Shona: Nyara.
      Siswati: Litagayezi.
      Ndebele, Zulu, Shangaan, Venda: Inyala.


      Afrikaans: Koedoe.
      Zulu: Mgankla.
      Xhosa: Qudu.
      Shangaan: Hlongo.
      Siswati: Shongololo.
      Sotho, Venda, Tswana: Tholo.
      Shona: Nhoro.
      Ndebele: Ibhalabhala.
      Lozi: Tolo.
      Yei: Unzwa.
      Nama/Damara: Xaib.


      Afrikaans: Springbok.
      Herero: Menyeh.
      Tswana: Tshephe, Maponye.
      Sotho: Tshephe.
      Nama/Damara: || Gûb.

      Source: Signs of the Wild, by Clive Walker.

      Cheerios! 🙂 😉

  3. Sandy Salle April 30, 2010 at 8:46 pm #

    Great post! I frequently get travelers interested in learning some Swahili or at least interested in the language before taking their trip to Africa. This PDF is a great way to familiarize yourself and your family with the animals of Africa and the culture of Africa before leaving for your trip!

    It’s also exciting and highly rewarding to learn a new language–even if it is just a few words!

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