What Animals can I see at Masai Mara National Reserve?

Spectacular scenic views, beautiful savannah wilderness, and diverse wildlife such as lions, hippos, birds, and more await you at the Masai Mara National Reserve. Established in 1961, the Masai Mara National Reserve is located adjacent to Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park. This natural biodiversity is one of the highlights of Kenya tourism and attracts millions of visitors every year.

With about 90 mammal species, 500+ recorded bird species, diverse flora, and fauna, the Masai Mara is a dream come true for nature lovers. The jaw-dropping Wildebeest Migration can be seen, and the Great Mara ecosystem shelters a diversified wildlife collection.

Originally, the term, Big Five was used about the difficulty hunters faced in hunting the ferocious five animals. It includes leopard, elephant, lion, African buffalo, and rhino. However, nowadays, the term is used in conjunction with the spotting of these magnificent creatures in the raw wilderness of Africa.

The list of the Big Five is now extended to Big Nine to include other animals. These include Giraffe, Zebra, Hippo, and Cheetah. Apart from this, the flora and fauna collection at Masai Mara is bound to take your breath away. Often, tourists opt for safaris or hot air balloon rides to explore the daunting area and spot these beautiful creatures. You can book a luxury 4 day Masai Mara safari with BookallSafari here.

Animals at Masai Mara National Reserve

1. Lion (Panthera Leo)

One of the most royal creatures to grace the Masai Mara National Reserve is the lion. There are about 850-900 lions present in Masai Mara, along with the adjacent conservancies. These beautiful yet stunning creatures usually live in groups known as pride. There are approximately 3-20 lions in one pride.

Usually, the male lions head the pride and are responsible for protecting their territory. These territories can range from 30 to around 400 square kilometers. However, when it comes to hunting prey, it is the lioness that takes the lead. In some instances, the lions also assist the females with the hunt.

2. Elephant (Loxodonta Africana)

Known as the largest land animal in the world, the African Elephants are a stunning vision. These familial animals are social and intelligent. Though their ivory tusks often invite poachers to kill them, Masai Mara has recently observed an increase in their number. These large animals have powerful family ties and are matriarchal.

What Animals can I see at Masai Mara National Reserve?
What Animals can I see at Masai Mara National Reserve?

It means that elephants are usually led in groups, called clans by the eldest female. The matriarch of the leaders is the eldest and largest elephant in the group containing multigenerational females and offspring. Male elephants live alone but can sometimes create small groups. These animals consume fruits, grasses, and roots.

3. Rhino (Rhinocerotidae)

Even though Kenya houses both black and white rhinos, Masai Mara has an increasing population of black rhinos. Rhinoceros, also abbreviated to the rhino is a large land mammal that feeds on foliage from trees and bushes. These animals have two horns and display strong familial ties between mother and calf.

Black rhinos are elusive, and, likely, you might not be able to spot them on your Masai Mara safari. The animals have poor eyesight but make up for it with an excellent sense of smell and hearing. These creatures use their horns for fighting, mating, and defending themselves.

4. Leopard (Panthera pardus)

Though lions are heralded as the kings of the jungle, it is the leopard that other animals look out for. These animals are known for their impeccable stealth, grace and cunning. The elusive population of leopards at Masai Mara keeps on increasing, but they are on the vulnerable section of the IUCN Red List. These animals are most active at night and prefer to live a solitary life.

The only time you can observe leopards together is during the breeding season. These animals reside on rocky outcrops and wooded savannas. Their highly advanced sense of smell, sight, and sound makes them one of the finest hunters in the wild.

Leopard (Panthera pardus)
Leopard (Panthera pardus)

5. African Buffalo (Syncerus caffer)

Also known as Cape Buffalo, the African Buffalo is an aggressive animal that prowls in the wilderness of the Masai Mara. These animals weigh around 800 kilograms and can be highly unpredictable. That, along with aggressive nature, makes them exceedingly dangerous in the wild. They have never been domesticated. Females are also aggressive when protecting their offspring.

In the Masai Mara National Reserve, you can spot herds of African buffalo. Usually, a single herd contains more than 100 buffalos. You can often spot them near water sources. Both sexes exhibit unique styled horns; females’ horns are narrower and smaller.

6. Cheetah (Acinonyx Jubantus)

With the classification of the Cheetah as the Critically Endangered Species by IUCN, these animals are a great attraction of the Masai Mara. These graceful cats are known as the fastest land animal, enabling them to traverse 100 kilometers in an hour. The long tails aid the Cheetahs to make tight turns and catch their prey with agile precision.

These magnificent creatures are often confused with the leopards. However, they can be identified with the distinct black stripes on their faces. These essentially act as anti-glare devices during sprinting. Cheetahs have a complex social life where the females live in solitary and the male in groups.

7. Giraffe (Giraffa)

Kenya is home to two distinct sub-species of Giraffe. The one that you can find in the Masai Mara National Reserve is the Maasai Giraffe. Known as the tallest living animals on the planet, giraffes are a sight to behold. Their slaw and graceful movements, and gentle nature make it pleasing to watch them wander in nature.

These terrestrial animals have jagged spots that distinguish them from the reticulated giraffe sub-species. They are diurnal and prefer to reside in small groups. These herbivore creatures are often preyed upon by hyenas and lions. IUCN lists the Maasai giraffe as endangered.

8. Hippo (Hippopotamus amphibius)

One of the most iconic mammals that you will ever come across in the Masai Mara National Reserve is the hippo. Named as hippopotamus, these creatures are the third-largest land animal to exist. They are generally found in rivers, swamps, and areas near water sources. These huge animals spend most of the day laying in water and soaking in the coolness.

You can spot a large number of hippopotamuses on the trip to Masai Mara. Male hippos lead the group and rule over a particular area of the river. The group contains 5-30 females and their offspring. These animals are aggressive and thus dangerous.

9. Zebra (Equus quagga)

In the Masai Mara National Reserve, you will spot a massive collection of Zebras. There are many sub-species of Zebras, but the one found in Masai Mara is the plains Zebra. The stripes on the bodies of the animals are broader than any other Zebra subspecies. These animals prefer savanna woodlands and treeless grasslands.

The plains Zebras are social creatures and form harems. These are groups that consist of a single male zebra, multiple females, and their offspring. However, you can also spot bachelor groups that only have male zebras. Sometimes, to handle ferocious predators, the harems join and form herds.

Wildebeest and Zebra Migration Avoiding Nile Crocodiles
Wildebeest and Zebra Migration Avoiding Nile Crocodiles

10. Nile Crocodile

Native to Africa, the Nile crocodile is a massive crocodilian preferring various aquatic environments. These crocodile species are apex predators and are known to be extremely aggressive. They have the capacity of swallowing and consuming any animals that come within their vision. When it comes to hunting prey, these creatures are not stuck to one kind.

The Nile crocodiles have a dark bronze color, exhibiting blackish stripes and spots on their back. It is the biting force of these creatures that make them highly dangerous. They are sexually dimorphic and exhibit excellent predation behavior.

11. Wildebeest or African Antelopes

Also known as gnu, the Wildebeest is a stunning antelope species. These animals have a slender hindquarter, but their frontal end is quite bulky. With a black mane, grey coat, and white-black beard, these animals are one of a kind. Some species of these large animals are migratory.

The massive herd of wildebeest that can be seen in the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem is the western white-bearded sub-species. These nomadic animals move from one place to another in search of food and water. It is their jaw-dropping migration that most people eagerly wait to see on the Masai Mara National Reserve trip.

12. Aardvark (Orycteropus afer)

Apart from the Big Nine, there are various other wildlife species in the Masai Mara National Reserve that will surprise you. One of them is the Aardvark. These are small to medium-sized mammals that are native to the African continent. These burrowing animals have powerful claws along with a long snout.

They are nocturnal creatures and generally feed on a wide range of insects. The pronounced arch-type back makes them stand out from the rest of the animals in the wilderness. These animals are hairless and use their claws for digging and burrowing. They are good swimmers and can run quite fast to escape predators.

13. Aardwolf (Proteles cristatus)

Native to Southern and Eastern Africa, Aardwolf is a yellow-colored mammal that looks similar to a hyena. These carnivorous animals feed on insects and do not hunt down larger animals. They are nocturnal creatures and hunt at night in search of food. These creatures live in bushland and dry plains and prefer to sleep in burrows during the day.

These mammals are not much of a runner due to the presence of five toes on their front feet. The vertical strips of black coloration on their back, along with bushy tails, make them unique. They live in monogamous pairs and are extremely territorial.

14. Banded Mongoose (Mungos mungo)

Found mainly in the eastern and central region of Africa, the Banded mongoose prefers open forests, savannas, and grasslands. These animals generally prey on millipedes and beetles. They have a sturdy body with small ears, a large head, a long tail, and short limbs. With their strong claws, they dig the soil.

The social structure of the banded mongoose is complex. They stay in groups that contain males and females. The lack of strict hierarchy means that there is low aggression. However, these animals are territorial and mark areas with their scents.

15. Bat Eared Fox (Otocyon magalotis)

The Bat Eared Foxes are found only in the African continent and prefer arid grasslands and short-grass prairies. These animals are named so due to their large ears that are similar to the Egyptian slit-faced bat. The ears help in thermoregulation and are accompanied by dark limbs, tan-colored pelage, and a black tail.

These fox species are considered true insectivorous canids with a special preference towards the harvester termites. They hunt in small groups and use their auditory sense to catch the prey. These creatures are mostly nocturnal and highly social. They either live in family groups or monogamous pairs.

16. Spotted Hyena (Hyaena hyaena)

Also known as the laughing hyena, the Spotted hyena is the largest animal species from the Hyaenidae family. Found in sub-Saharan Africa, these carnivorous creatures form stable territories with around 12 hyenas. Spotted hyenas have a unique sexual distinction. Here, the female species have a male appearance, have a pseudo-penis, and are larger than the males.

These stealthy animals are rarely seen and thus spotting them on the trip to Masai Mara is rather difficult. They are mainly active during the early morning hours. The societal structures of Spotted hyenas are much more complex than other carnivores.

What Animals can I see at Masai Mara National Reserve?
Hyenas: What Animals can I see at Masai Mara National Reserve?

The Masai Mara National Reserve is home to a wide collection of wildlife. Apart from these creatures, you can also spot African hare, Bushbuck, Coke’s Hartebeest, Bushbaby, Grant’s Gazelle, Slender Mongoose, Kirk’s Dik-Dik, and more.

In Conclusion 

Of incredible variety, animals you can spot, exploring of the Masai Mara National Reserve vary from the fastest land animals in the world to the largest (and most graceful) land mammals on Earth. Without a doubt, the trip to Masai Mari will rejuvenate your soul, immortalize unforgettable memories and make you feel at one with nature. The sheer majestic beauty of wildlife in nature at Masai Mara will make you come back wanting more.

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