African Safari Wildlife – Group Names and Name Origins

Collective Names:

Antelope – herd, cluster, tribe

Apes – shrewdness, troop

Badgers – cete, colony

Cats (Wild) – destruction, dowt, dout

Cheetah – coalition

Elephant – parade, herd

Giraffe – tower, corps, journey, group

Hedgehogs – array, prickle

Hippo – raft, pod, bloat, thunder, school

Hyaena – clan

Impala – rank

Jackal – skulk

Leopard – leap, lepe

Lion – pride, sault, sowse

Monkeys – shrewdness, cartload, troop, troup

Mongoose – business

Pigs (Wild) – sounder

Rhino – crash, stubbornness, herd

Wild Dog – pack

Wildebeest – implausibility, herd

Zebra – dazzle, zeal, cohort

Name Origins:

Aardvark: Afrikaans word translation “earth pig” as ears and nose resemble those of a pig, also burrows a lot.

Bat-eared fox: Refers to the big ears resembling those of egyptian slit-faced bat

Blesbok: Afrikaans word translation “bald buck” referring to the white blaze on the face

Bushbaby: Lives in the “bush” and their call sounds like that of a crying baby

Caracal: From the Turkish name “garah-gulak” meaning black ear, with reference to the black ear tufts

Cheetah: Hindu word “chita” meaning “spotted one”

Duiker: Afrikaans meaning “diver” from the action of the antelope when running away

Eland: Dutch word for elk, thought to be related or similar

Elephant: Greek word “elphas” and latin word “elephantus” for the species

Gemsbok: Dutch word “gems” meaning chamois in reference to colour

Genet: Name of area in Spain the species inhabited in the 18th century

Giraffe: Arabic word “xirapha” meaning “one who walks swiftly”

Hartebeest: Afrikaans word translation “heart cow” with reference to the shape of the horns

Hippopotamus: Greek “(h)ippo” meaning horse, and “pot-amus” meaning flowing river ñ a river horse

Honey Badger: Eats honey, badger from French word “becheur” meaning digger

Impala: Zulu name “imphala” and Tswana name “phala” for the species

Jackal: Persian name “sagal” for the golden jackal

Klipspringer: Afrikaans word translation “stone jumper” with reference to the bounding action in rocky habitat

Kudu: Khoikhoi name for the species

Leopard: Greek words “pardus” for panther and “leo” for lion, shortened to leopard from leopardus

Lion: Greek word “leon” for the species

Mongoose: Indian name “mangus” for the species

Nyala: Zulu name “iNxala” for the species

Pangolin: Malay name for “peng-goling” for the species, which means “the roller” from their habit of rolling into a ball for protection

Porcupine: Greek word “porcus” meaning pig and “spina” meaning species, direct translation “spined pig”

Rhinoceros: Greek word “rhis” meaning nose and “keras” meaning horn, direct translation “nose horn”

Springbok: Afrikaans meaning “jumping back” in reference to their unique jumping action called “pronking”

Warthog: Refers to the outgrowths or warts on the face

Zebra: Portuguese or Italian name of the species in the Congo region

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By: Marcelle Trethewey

About the Author:

Marcelle was born and raised on an African Safari Wildlife farm. She has successfully hand reared and released white faced owls, impala and gemsbok. View her Wild Africa blog at

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