Attracting visitors from all over the globe, the wildlife in Zimbabwe is the main draw for visitors along with a visit to Victoria Falls at its border with Zambia. Between private concessions and national parks, the country boasts healthy populations of the Big 5 (buffalo, lion, elephant, leopard, and rhinoceros) but also zebra, giraffe, antelope, crocodile, hippo, and African wild dog. Once identified as Africa's leader in wildlife conservation and management, Zimbabwe has dedicated approximately 12% of its total land mass to wildlife habitat and sanctuaries, or its "Wildlife Estate". See below a brief summary of the wildlife found in Zimbabwe's 11 established parks.
Chimanimani National Park - This park borders Mozambique and can only be reached by hiking to it through hills. Aside from seeing the beautiful Bridal Veil Falls, those hiking in the virgin evergreen forest here may spot sable, bushbuck, klipsringer, leopard, blue duiker and aseland are some of the species most commonly spotted here.
Chizarira National Park - This virgin forest land is one of the largest parks and is covered in virgin forest along the remote Zambezi Escarpment. This park contains more large game species such as elephant, lion, leopard, and buffalo and some bird species such as African broadbill, Livingstone's flycatcher, and yellow-spotted nicator.
Gonarezhou National Park - This remote, rugged, and seldom visited park is the second largest in Zimbabwe after Hwange and is located in the southeast section of the country along the border with Mozambique. Lying in close proximity to Limpopo National Park in Mozambique and Kruger National Park in South Africa, the three combine to great the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park, a protected area that allows the animals to freely wander between the three parks. The park's rich wildlife consists of over 1500 bird species, 147 species of mammals, and over a hundred species of reptiles. The parks rivers and pools hold 34 species of frogs and 49 species of fish including some unique species.
Hwange National Park - Zimbabwe's largest and also most popular park is conveniently located near Zimbabwe's other main attraction Victoria Falls. The park boasts one of the largest and healthiest populations of elephant herds in all of southern Africa and a few specially protected species are also found here, such as Africa's wild dog, gemsbok, and brown hyena.
Kazuma Pan National Park - This small park lies along Zimbabwe's northwest corner and was developed as a safe haven for animals during hunting season. It holds the largest concentration of buffalo, and also contains healthy numbers of elephant, rhino, lion, leopard, and also the endemic oribi antelope. A large variety of birds make it a great birding destination. Species include stork, cormorants, kingfisher, crowned cranes and stilts.
Mana Pools National Park - A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this lies in the region of the lower Zambezi River towards Mozambique. The floodplains here turn into semi-permanent lakes in dry season and attracts wildlife in large numbers, making it one of the best game-viewing destinations in all Africa. The park has large concentrations of hippo, crocodile, elephant, and buffalo. Warthog, spotted hyena, plains zebra and many species of antelope are also found here. Birdlife consists of over 380 species including the banded snake-eagle, Nyasa lovebird, Livingstone's flycatcher, and rock pratincole.
Matusadona National Park - This smaller park is along the southern shores of Lake Kariba and contains shore grasslands and various woodlands. This park provides habitat to black rhino, elephant and buffalo, along with honey badger, civet, mongoose, hyena, sebra, jackal and some other big cats spotted on occasion.
Matobo National Park - Part of the Matobo Hills UNESCO site was designated as this national park, and parts of it serve as a specific protection zone for the black and white rhinos who inhabit the region. This park is covered in granite boulders who dome-like spires create a unique landscape in which to spot wildlife.The park supports a variety of mammal species and has prolific birdlife including a variety of eagle species, weavers, and also fish species.
Nyanga National Park - Located in the eastern hills of Zimbabwe, this park is covered with rolling green hills terrain and year-round rivers. Some species spotted here are waterbuck, wildebeest, kudu, zebra, impala, sables, and eland. A variety of waterfalls in the park are also popular attractions.
Victoria Falls and Zambezi National Park - This area lies in the region surrounding along the south river bank of the upper Zambezi River and the 4 of 5 falls on the Zimbabwe side. The flora and fauna in the region is rich with unique species due to the rainforest habitat found here. Species found in the park include elephant, buffalo, lions, leopards, white rhino, sables, eland, zebra, giraffe, waterbuck, impala, and fish species such as tigerfish and bream.