Hwange resembles what much of the interior of Africa was like more than 150 years ago, with plentiful game and unspoiled bush. The landscape comprises grasslands, granite outcrops, savannah, scrubland and scattered woodland. The most remarkable physical aspects of the park are the shallow pans, and the number of natural salt licks (sodium and lime-flavoured water), which attract a large number of game animals from the adjoining Kalahari Desert. Most of the pans are about 20-30 m in diameter and when full of water are about 1 m deep.
All Zimbabwe’s protected animals are to be found in Hwange, and the park hosts 150 mammal species including buffalo, lion, leopard, white and black rhino, cheetah, giraffe, sable, kudu, eland, waterbuck, wildebeest, impala, zebra, baboon, jackal, bat-eared fox, warthog and many other smaller species. It is the only protected area where gemsbok and hyena occur in reasonable numbers, and the population of African wild dog is thought to be one of the largest surviving groups in Africa.
Elephant have been enormously successful with the estimated population being 20,000-75,000, putting pressure on water resources during times of drought. Some 50 or so man-made waterholes are operated in the park, also providing a haven for the prolific birdlife, which includes 50 species of raptor alone.