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13 Fastest Animals in Africa: Speeds, Facts, Photos

What are the fastest animals in Africa? In post, you’ll learn about the fastest predators and prey, land and flying animals. They include wildebeests, ostriches, lions, cheetahs, and two birds. You’ll find top speeds (imperial and metric) plus lots of other facts and resources.

The fastest land animal in Africa is the cheetah at 76 mph (122 km/h). The fastest bird is the crowned eagle at an impressive 100 mph (161 km/h).

fastest animals in africa

Quick Overview: Fastest Animals in Africa and Speeds

Here are the 13 fastest animals in Africa, including their speeds.

They are listed in descending order, beginning with the slowest to the fastest.

  • Spotted Hyena: 37 mph (60 km/h)
  • African Savannah Hare: 43 mph
  • Ostrich: 43 mph (70 km/h)
  • Zebra: 43.5 mph (70 km/h)
  • African Wild Dog: 44 mph (71 km/h)
  • Lion: 50 mph (80 km/h)
  • Blue Wildebeest: 50 mph (80 km/h)
  • Thomson’s Gazelle: 50 mph (80 km/h)
  • Springbok: 55 mph (88.5 km/h)
  • Common Tsessebe (Sassaby): 56 mph (90 km/h)
  • Cheetah: 76 mph (122 km/h)
  • Spur-winged Goose: 88 mph (142 km/h)
  • African Crowned Eagle: 100 mph (161 km/h)

*If there’s an animal missing from this list, note that speed figures are often estimations. Thus, any speed list like this is likely going to be dynamic and may change from time to time.

Have an animal or reference to add? Let me know in the comments.

Fastest Animals in Africa: Top 13

The following list expands on the one above, adding interesting details on the animals.

13. Spotted Hyena

The spotted hyena may not be the fastest on the list, but they are still quite fearsome and are known to have a unique laugh.

  • Latin Name: Crocuta crocuta
  • Top Speed: 37 mph (60 km/h) (some estimates of 40 mph or 65 km/h)
  • Speed Type: Endurance
  • Use of Speed: Hunting
  • Location: Eastern, Southern Africa
  • Habitat: Variety, including semi-deserts, savannahs, woodlands, forested mountains
spotted hyena running

12. African Savanna Hare

The African savanna hare only measures around 20 inches (50 cm), but is quite speedy and uses a zigzag running pattern to evade predators.

  • Latin Name: Lepus victoriae
  • Top Speed: 43 mph (70 km/h)
  • Speed Type: Zigzag
  • Use of Speed: Predator evasion
  • Location: Throughout Africa
  • Habitat: Savannahs, the Sahel (a semiarid region located in western and north central Africa)

11. Common and Somali Ostrich

Ostriches are the biggest and heaviest birds in the world, but they use their springy legs to their advantage.

  • Latin Name: Struthio camelus (common); Struthio molybdophanes (Somali)
  • Top Speed: 43 mph (70 km/h)
  • Speed Type: Endurance (can maintain 31 mph or 50 km/h over many miles)
  • Use of Speed: Predator evasion, migration
  • Location: Africa: north and south of the Sahara, East Africa, south of African rainforest belt
  • Habitat: Open areas like savannahs or deserts
ostrich top speed

10. Plains and Grévy’s Zebra

While not as fast as their horse cousins, zebras can still get to a good speed with a lot of endurance.

  • Latin Name: Equus quagga (plains); Equus grevy (Grévy’s)
  • Top Speed: 43.5 mph (70 km/h)
  • Speed Type: Endurance (can maintain 30 mph or 48 km/h for up to 12 miles or 19 km)
  • Use of Speed: Evasion, migration
  • Location: Western, southern Africa
  • Habitat: Generally grasslands, woodlands
how fast can a zebra run

9. African Wild Dog

The African wild dog uses their speed, endurance, and athleticism to hunt efficiently, being successful nearly 80% of the time.

  • Latin Name: Lycaon pictus
  • Top Speed: 44 mph (71 km/h)
  • Speed Type: Endurance
  • Use of Speed: Hunting, stalk and ambush, can keep up the chase for up to 60 minutes
  • Location: Throughout Africa
  • Habitat: Arid areas, savannahs

8. Lion

Lions are powerful and majestic, and it’s no surprise that they’re on this list.

  • Latin Name: Panthera leo
  • Top Speed: 50 mph (80 km/h)
  • Speed Type: Bursts of speed, ambush
  • Use of Speed: Hunting
  • Location: Small areas throughout Africa; Asiatic lion (Panthera leo leo) found in Gir National Park, India
  • Habitat: Grassy plains, savannahs
african lion running

7. Blue Wildebeest

Also known as the bridled gnu (and 3 other names), the blue wildebeest are wary creatures, using their speed to good use when they feel threatened.

  • Latin Name: Connochaetes taurinus
  • Top Speed: 50 mph (80 km/h)
  • Speed Type: Endurance
  • Use of Speed: Predator and threat evasion, migration
  • Location: Southern and East Africa
  • Habitat: short-grass plains, next to acacia savannahs; areas not too dry nor wet
blue wildebeest africa
Pictured is the blue wildebeest on the African savanna. The all black tail differentiates it from the black wildebeest.

Learn more about other large African antelope

6. Thomson’s Gazelle

While these antelopes can’t outrun cheetahs, Thomson’s gazelles can use their agility to outmaneuver them.

  • Latin Name: Eudorcas thonsonii
  • Top Speed: 50 mph (80 km/h) (some reports of 60 mph (96.5 km/h))
  • Speed Type: Agility, endurance (sustained speeds of 30-40 mph (48-64 km/h))
  • Use of Speed: Predator evasion
  • Location: East Africa
  • Habitat: Savannahs and grasslands

5. Springbok

The nickname of the South African rugby team, springboks can not only run fast but jump up to 11.5 feet (3.5 m) high.

  • Latin Name: Antidorcas marsupialis
  • Top Speed: 55 (88.5 km/h)
  • Speed Type: Agility
  • Use of Speed: Escaping predators
  • Location: South and southwestern Africa
  • Habitat: Open plains, dry areas
springbok antelope in africa
Springbok antelope in the air

Learn more about antelopes in Africa in our complete guide.

4. Common Tsessebe (Sassaby)

The common tsessebe, or sassaby, is considered to be the fastest of the antelope species.

  • Latin Name: Damaliscus lunatus lunatus
  • Top Speed: 56 mph (90 km/h)
  • Speed Type: Endurance
  • Use of Speed: Predator evasion
  • Location: South central Africa
  • Habitat: Prefer open areas like grasslands, lightly wooded savannahs, or open plains without trees

3. Cheetah

The undisputed land-speed record king among animals, cheetahs use their springy bodies and lightness to get to a blistering pace.

  • Latin Name: Acinonyx jubatus
  • Top Speed: 76 mph (122 km/h) estimated; 61 mph (98 km/h) recorded
  • Speed Type: Sprint, top speed maintained for around 0.28 miles
  • Use of Speed: Hunting, stalk and ambush
  • Location: Throughout Africa, small pocket in Iran
  • Habitat: Variety of habitats, from savannahs to dry mountain ranges
how fast does a cheetah run

Learn more about the rare king cheetah. And adorable baby cheetahs.

2. Spur-Winged Goose

The silver-medalist on this list, the spur-winged goose is also a social creature, being found in groups of up to 50 birds.

  • Latin Name: Plectropterus gambensis
  • Top Speed: 88 mph (142 km/h)
  • Speed Type: Agility, diving
  • Use of Speed: Migration, evasion
  • Location: Throughout Africa
  • Habitat: open grasslands with water (like lakes, rivers, swamps)

1. African Crowned Eagle

The African crowned eagle is not only the fastest creature in Africa but also one of the strongest predators.

  • Latin Name: Stephanoaetus coronatus
  • Top Speed: 100 mph (161 km/h)
  • Speed Type: High-speed dive
  • Use of Speed: Hunting
  • Location: Sub-Saharan Africa
  • Habitat: Dense woodlands and forests
african crowned eagle in flight

What about everywhere else? Here are the Fastest Animals in the World: Land, Air, Water

Honorable Mentions

The following creatures aren’t on this part of the page because they were too slow. In fact, a lot of them are easily faster than the aforementioned speedsters.

The reason they’re here is that while they can be found in Africa, they may be found elsewhere more abundantly, might only spend some of their time on the continent, or simply live almost everywhere.

  • Grey-headed albatross: 79 mph (127 km/h)
  • Red-breasted merganser: 80 mph (129 km/h)
  • Common pigeon: 92.5 mph (149 km/h)
  • Frigatebird: 95 mph (153 km/h)
  • Eurasian hobby: 99 mph (159 km/h)
  • Golden Eagle: 200 mph (322 km/h)
  • Peregrine falcon: 242 mph (389 km/h)

Keep reading: Which Land Animal Has the Longest Tail?

Your Turn!

Which animals were you surprised by on this list? Which ones are your favorite? Let us know in the comments below!


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