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102 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

102 Swahili Animal Names

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

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

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.

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!

About the author: Bryan Haines is co-editor of Uganda365 – and is working to make it the best source of information about Uganda travel. He is a travel blogger and content marketer. He is also co-founder of ClickLikeThis (GoPro tutorial blog) and Storyteller Media (content marketing for travel brands). Work with Bryan and Dena.

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