If you have ever done some research about African safaris, the chance is that you have come across the term ‘The Big Five.’ Although this may sound obvious, there are many misconceptions about the five species the African wildlife which belong to this group. This article is about some interesting facts about the big five animals in Africa.
Although the term is popular in the realms of wildlife safari, it was coined by hunters. ‘The Big Five’ refers to the biggest five animals in African wildlife. They include the African elephant, African lion, African leopard, black rhinoceros, and the Cape buffalo. Despite the wealth of diversity of Africa, these five animals remain at the top of the list of any safari tourists.
Although all these animals are native to Africa, if you want to see them, you can only find them in a certain destination. Some of the countries you should consider to visit are Kenya and Tanzania. They can also be found in Botswana, Zambia, Namibia, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Malawi and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Below are a few interesting facts about these animals:
The African bush elephant is the largest living land mammal. It can be found in 37 different countries in Africa. There are two species of the African elephant, i.e., the savannah elephant and the forest elephant. One of the greatest threats to elephants is poachers. Almost 8% of the population is poached every year.
Elephants have characteristic trunks which are used for breathing, smelling, drinking, picking leaves, trumpeting, grooming and showing affection. They eat hundreds of kilos of food daily. However, only 40% of it is properly digested.
Elephants are highly social animals, and they are commonly able to communicate with others across the long distance at a low frequency which cannot be heard by humans.
The lion is the most famous of the big five animals. It is often referred to as the ‘King of the Jungle.’ It is certainly one of the most sought and powerful creatures in the animal kingdom. Besides, it is believed to be the most social of all the big cats. The African lion normally roams in groups called ‘prides.’ Each pride consists of up to 5 lions with one or two males. The rest of the members include females and cubs of different ages.
The African lion has an average lifespan of up to 15 years. It is, therefore, easy to tell the age of a lion by checking on its mane. The darker the mane, the older the lion is.
The female lions are the hunters of the pride. They usually hunt at night, early morning or in the afternoon. Their normal prey includes zebra, wildebeest, giraffe, gazelles, buffalo and even young elephants.
Though they are located throughout Africa, they are best spotted in Kenya, Tanzania, and South Africa. Some of the most famous game parks where you can find lions are the Maasai Mara in Kenya and the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania.
The black rhino is the other animal which makes it to the list of the big five. What sets the black rhino apart from its white cousin is its two horns. The front one is considered to be the prominent one. It may grow at the rate of up to three inches annually and can reach a maximum length of five feet.
The Black Rhino the other animal in the big five family which is most hunted by poachers. Its horns are believed to have certain medicine use. This makes it be highly sought after especially in Asian countries. This makes it one of the endangered species. In the Middle East and North Africa, it is usually an ornament dagger handle.
Except for females and their offspring, the Black Rhinos are solitary creatures. The normally feed at night and during dawn and dusk. They normally feed on leaves and fruits found in trees and bushes.
Although they have a poor sense of vision, they make it up with an excellent sense of smell and hearing.
The African leopard is the most elusive animals in the jungle. It is a solitary, secretive and nocturnal animal which likes to rest and stay hidden during the day. These traits make them the least seen out of the big five animals.
The African leopard prefers rocky landscapes with dense bush and riverine forests. Therefore, they can quickly adapt and seldom stay in the same area for more than three days. This adaptability helps them to survive the loss of their previous habitat due to increasing human settlement.
The African leopard is an excellent climber. Its spotted coat provides it with an almost perfect camouflage which is essential when hunting. It is a stealthy hunter which safeguards its kill by hanging it on trees. They are strong swimmers and occasionally consume fish or shellfish such as crabs.
The Cape buffalo is the least famous of the big five animals. Nevertheless, it is one of the most formidable animals in the jungle thanks to its size, large herds, and horns. The Cape buffalo may remain active throughout the night and day.
Typically, buffalos can spend up to 18 hours foraging and moving in herds of up to 500. They are often hunted by lions. They are loyal to the herd and normally try to rescue each other when caught by a predator. Sometimes, they are also hunted by humans. Buffalos are known to have an excellent memory. They have been known to attack hunters who have injured them previously.