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10 Must-See (African) Animal Movies

WRITTEN BY // Claudia Hauter CATEGORIES // Inverdoorn-blog

Wild Movies

10 Must-See (African) Animal Movies

We love movies! Who doesn’t, right? So in the spirit of cinema and wildlife, we decided to pick ten movies featuring African animals and tried to see if we could spot which ones live at Inverdoorn as well.


1. Khumba

This movie was a definite for our list, because it was made by a South African animation company based in Cape Town, called Triggerfish, and is set in the Karoo. As you can imagine we recognised practically everything, from the animals and plants to the vast mountain ranges and starry skies.

Animals you will recognise from Inverdoorn: zebra, wildebeest, springbok, gemsbok, ostrich

2. The Lion King

With grand storytelling, splendid detail and an excellent soundtrack to boot, this is a must-see on any list of animal movies. It features an array of memorable characters and an opening scene which will raise goosebumps to this very day. The movie created a range of iconic images and phrases, many of which have been spoofed endlessly since the move was released, two decades ago.

Animals you will recognise from Inverdoorn: lion, zebra, giraffe, elephant, cheetah, buffalo, gemsbok

3. Gorillas in the Mist

Make sure you haven’t used all your tissues wiping away the tears in The Lion King, because you’ll need them for this movie too. Set in the Congo and Rwanda, it is far away from South Africa; but because conservation is at the heart of what we do at Inverdoorn, we had to include this film, which is based on the life of naturalist Dian Fossey and her battle to save the mountain gorilla.

Animals you will recognise from Inverdoorn: none

4. The Ghost and the Darkness

This movie is about two man-eating lions. It is based on a true story, but it is extremely unusual, for lions (and animals in general) to attack humans for no reason. Admittedly, the movie demonises wildlife and depicts Africa as some kind of primitive wilderness à la Heart of Darkness; but, we must also admit a guilty pleasure in the over-the-top melodrama of the story and the action.

Animals you will recognise from Inverdoorn: lion

5. Carry On Up the Jungle

An even worse depiction of Africa comes in the form of Carry On Up the Jungle. It treats Africa like one massive country overrun with every manner of animals and wild savages. But, in the spirit of the Carry On movies, the sheer awfulness is what makes it half the fun as you roll your eyes and laugh along at the cheap production, the crude effects and, as always, the naughty jokes.

Animals you will recognise from Inverdoorn: elephant, giraffe, lion

6. Life of Pi

The scene-stealer in this movie is, without a doubt, the Bengal tiger, and although tigers are not found in Africa, this movie’s epic story and incredible visuals meant we could not resist including it to our list. Besides, it does feature a zebra and a hyena, which you find in Africa. The orang-utan in the story, like the tiger, comes from Asia.

Animals you will recognise from Inverdoorn: zebra

7. Madagascar

This animated movie features a host of African animals, but completely supplanted from their natural environment. They all live in a zoo in New York City and land up in Madagascar which is home to none of the main characters – a lion, hippo, zebra and giraffe. It is a fun and frivolous movie with a host of excellent supporting characters including a ring-tailed lemur, some penguins from Antarctica and an adorable Mouse lemur. Lemurs are only found in Madagascar. In the movie’s sequel, the main characters get a chance to go to Africa.

Animals you will recognise from Inverdoorn: lion, hippo, zebra, giraffe

8. The Chronicles of Narnia

The Narnia movies are based on the incredible fantasy series by C.S. Lewis and imbued with an impassioned spiritual outlook. The stories have nothing to do with Africa specifically, but the beautiful stories, the abundance of animal characters and the integral figure of Aslan the lion – particularly in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe – secured its spot on our list.

Animals you will recognise from Inverdoorn: lion

9. Tarzan

Edgar Rice Burroughs created a legend when he wrote the character of Tarzan. It all started with the book Tarzan and the Apes, which followed the life of a young boy raised by apes in Africa. The book’s publication in 1914 spawned over twenty sequels, and since that time a vast multitude of adaptations followed in the form of books, movies, radio plays, TV shows and much more. The stories and their various adaptations come with a host of contentious issues, but the entertainment value cannot be denied.

Animals you will recognise from Inverdoorn: lion, hippo, elephant

10. Dumbo

Disney has long been renowned for animated classics which feature animals as the main characters, so it is no surprise to find them on our list twice. Dumbo is a gorgeous movie, which will touch a chord of nostalgia for anyone who grew up with Disney’s traditionally animated features. This movie is included in honour of our elephants Bully and Nduna who, like Dumbo, were taken from their family at a young age.

Animals you will recognise from Inverdoorn: elephant


Movies are a fantastic story-telling tool and using animals as characters creates an exciting opportunity to learn more about the amazing creatures that roam across this continent, and our world. It also provides a new way of looking at our own lives, and our place in the world.


What is your favourite animal movie?

About the author

Claudia Hauter

Claudia Hauter

Taught from a young age to save the planet and driven by a love of the environment, Claudia Hauter now writes and manages social media for Inverdoorn Game Reserve, Western Cape Cheetah Conservation and RhinoProtect – hoping to do her part in saving this little planet we call home.

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Inverdoorn Game Reserve


112 LOOP STREET 8001

Tel:  +27 (0)214 220 013
Fax: +27 (0)86 719 71 50


Meet The Team

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  • Meet the Team: Anita

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    My name is Anita, I’m a nineteen year old girl from Germany and I finished school in July. I have always loved working with animals, back at home I take care of a horse and I help at my...

  • Focus on: Lauren Leonard

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  • Meet the team: Lena Pailler

    Meet the team: Lena Pailler

    The staff at Inverdoorn comes from various parts of the world as well as different continents within South Africa. As a result they all have very different and diverse backgrounds, but...

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Inverdoorn Game Reserve

112 LOOP STREET 8001

Tel:  +27 (0)214 220 013
Fax: +27 (0)86 719 7150


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