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104 Swahili Animal Names (Safari Guide for Travelers)

Swahili is one of two official languages in Uganda. In this post, you’ll learn about Swahili animal names for more than 100 African animals, including lion, giraffe, warthog, cheetah, and elephant. To round things out, we include a list of 17 characters from Lion King translated from Swahili to English.

swahili animal names

Basic Swahili Names for Animals

East Africa (including Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, the DRC) is an amazing place to see wildlife. Swahili is also the lingua franca (common language) of more than 120 million people from these same countries.

It’s worth learning some of the basic words – it’ll add to your safari experience. To get started, here are two

  • Animal: Mnyama (Also: wanyama)
  • Wildlife: Wanyamapori

swahili wildlife words

104 Swahili Animal Names

Okay, let’s get started with this huge list of animal names in Swahili.

  1. Aardvark: Muhanga
  2. African Elk (Barbary Stag): Elk ya Kiafrika
  3. African Wild Dog: Mbwa mwitu
  4. Ant: Sisimizi (Also: Chugu, Sungusungu)
  5. Flying ant: Ngumbi
  6. Safari ant: Siafu
  7. Antelope: Paa
  8. Baboon: Nyani
  9. Bat: Popo
  10. Bat-eared fox: Mbweha masikio
  11. Bee: Nyuki
  12. Bird: Ndege
  13. Blue Monkey: Kima
  14. Buffalo: Nyati (Also: Mbogo)
  15. Lesser Bushbaby: Komba
  16. Bushbuck: Pongo (Also: Mbawala)
  17. Butterfly: Kipepeo
  18. Chameleon: Kinyonga
  19. Camel: Ngamia
  20. Cat: Paka
  21. Cheetah: Duma
  22. Chimpanzee: Sokwe
  23. Civet: Fungo
  24. Colobus (Black and white): Mbega mweusi mweupe
  25. Colobus (Red): Mbega mwekundu
  26. Colobus (Zanzibar Red): Kima punju
  27. Cow: Ng’ombe
  28. Crab: Kaa
  29. Crocodile: Mamba
  30. Deer: Paa
  31. Dik-dik: Digidigi
  32. Dragonfly: Kereng’ende
  33. Duiker: Funo
  34. Dog: Mbwa
  35. Dolphin: Pomboo
  36. Donkey: Punda
  37. Duck: Bata
  38. Eland: Pofu
  39. Elephant: Tembo (Also: Ndovu)
  40. Fish: Samaki
  41. Fly: Nzi
  42. Catfish: Kambale (Also: Kambare)
  43. Tigerfish: Kibebe or Kachinga (Kange in Selous)
  44. Flamingo: Heroe
  45. Gazelle: Swala
  46. Genet: Kala/Kanu
  47. Giraffe: Twiga
  48. Goat: Mbuzi
  49. Grant’s Gazelle: Swala Granti
  50. Guinea fowl: Kanga
  51. Guinea pig: Sili
  52. Hartebeest: Kongoni
  53. Hippo: Kiboko (Also: viboko)
  54. Rock hyrax: Pelele (Also: Wibari, Kwanga, Pimbi)
  55. Horse: Farasi
  56. Spotted Hyena: Fisi
  57. Brown Hyena: Fisi kahawia
  58. Hyrax: Pimbi
  59. Impala: Swala pala
  60. Insect: Mdudu (Also: dudu)
  61. Jackal: Mbweha
  62. Klipspringer: Mbuzi mawe
  63. Greater Kudu: Tandala mkubwa
  64. Lesser Kudu: Tandala mdogo
  65. Leopard: Chui
  66. Lion: Simba
  67. Lizard: Mjusi
  68. Monitor Lizard: Kenge
  69. Mongoose: Nguchiro (Also: Kimburu)
  70. Monkey: Tumbili
  71. Mosquito: Mbu
  72. Moth: Kipopo/nondo/dege
  73. Mouse: Panya mdogo (Also: puku)
  74. Oribi: Taya
  75. Oryx: Choroa
  76. Ostrich: Mbuni
  77. Owl: Bundi (Also: Babewana, Babewatoto, Vumatiti)
  78. Pangolin: Kakakuona
  79. Pig: Nguruwe
  80. Porcupine: Nungunungu
  81. Rock python: Chat
  82. Rabbit: Sungura
  83. Rat: Panya
  84. Reedbuck: Tohe
  85. Rhinoceros: Kifaru
  86. Roan antelope: Korongo
  87. Rooster: Jogoo
  88. Sable antelope: Palahala (Also: Mbarapi)
  89. Sand fleas (jiggers): funza (viroboto vya mchanga)
  90. Scorpion: Nge (Also: Ng’ge, Kisusuli, Akrabu)
  91. Serval: mondo
  92. Sheep: Kondoo
  93. Snail: Konokono
  94. Snake: Nyoka
  95. Spider: Buibui
  96. Suni antelope: Paa
  97. Squirrel: Kindi (Also: Kidiri, Chindi, Sindi)
  98. Thomson’s Gazelle: Swala tomi
  99. Topi: Nyamera
  100. Vervet Monkey: Tumbili (Also: Tumbiri)
  101. Warthog: Ngiri
  102. Waterbuck: Kuro
  103. Wildebeest: Nyumbu
  104. Zebra: Punda milia

Which of these animals do you want to see on your trip? Don’t forget to bring along a decent camera. Here’s how to choose the best safari camera for your adventure.

More reading: Complete Guide to All African Antelope

Here are some basic Swahili words for your upcoming trip.

basic swahili words

How to Pronounce Animal Names in Swahili

Want to hear how Swahili animal names sound? Here are some basics:

A souvenir vendor in Tanzania with a Learn Swahili shirt.

learn swahili animal names

What The Lion King Names Mean (17 Animals)

The majority of the names in the popular Lion King franchise have Swahili origins. Only one character has a Swahili name to match his species (Simba), while the others have descriptive names.

The most famous expression from the movie, hakuna matata, is Swahili. It means: no worries (or, no trouble).

Here are what each of the names mean, along with their language origin.

  • Simba: Lion (Swahili)
  • Nala: Gift (Swahili)
  • Mufasa: King (attributed to a fictional language called Manazoto)
  • Timon: Respect (Greek)
  • Pumbaa: Slow witted (Swahili)
  • Rafiki: Friend (Swahili)
  • Zazu: Movement (Hebrew)
  • Sarabi: Mirage (Swahili)
  • Sarafina: Bright star (Swahili origins)
  • Shenzi: Savage (Swahili)
  • Kiara: Small, dark thing (Swahili)
  • Kovu: Scar (Swahili)
  • Zira: Hate (Swahili)
  • Nuka: Stink (Swahili)
  • Vitani: Demon of war (Swahili)
  • Banzai: Skulk (Swahili, also a Japanese battle cry)
  • Bunga: Foolish person (Swahili)

And there you have it – more than 100 Swahili animal names and a list of all the Swahili Lion King names with English meanings.

Here are some of the fastest African animals.

animal names in swahili

Worried you’ll forget something for your trip? Check out our Safari Packing List and travel prepared!

Your Turn

Are you planning on learning some basic Swahili words for your upcoming trip? I would love to hear your plans – and how it’s progressing!

Did I miss an important one? Let me know below!


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