When going on safari in Africa, travelers often have a wish list of animals they hope to see.
For most people, the top of the list will be “The Big 5”: Elephant, buffalo, lion, rhino and leopard. Sure, these majestic animals put on a spectacular sight, but did you know there are others? less well known “5” groups, just as exciting to see? These are “The Tiny 5”, “The Shy 5” and the somewhat unfairly named “The Ugly 5”. Over the next few weeks, we will introduce you to these interesting groups: But first let’s talk about the “Big 5” which are => Elephants, Ox, Lion, Rhino and Leopard.
Let’s start by understanding why they are called “The Big 5”? The name has an unfortunate origin. They are called the Big 5 because they were the five most aggressive animals to hunt. This characteristic is unfortunately one of the causes of the collapse of their numbers in the wild, and these magnificent animals are sought after by trophy hunters. But let’s move on and introduce you to these wonderful animals.
Perhaps the sweetest of the Big 5, Elephants communicate over great distances at a low frequency that cannot be heard by humans. They are the largest land animal in the world and are social animals living in multi-generational herds led by females. They are also highly intelligent animals with complex emotions, feelings, compassion and self-awareness. The gestation period of an elephant is 22 months, which is the longest of any mammal. Click here to discover more fascinating facts about elephants.
Next up is the Buffalo. Like elephants, buffalo live in large herds but unlike elephants, there is no single “leader,” male or female. THE The buffalo The main predator is the lion, but buffalo are not easy meat for lions, as they will fight back and attempt to save any captured herd member. They have even been observed killing a lion after it killed a member of the group. They have the ability to ambush, charge, and gore using their horns. They need a constant supply of water and prefer large, open spaces. They are known for being cranky and unpredictable. Buffaloes are good swimmers and are said to kill more hunters in Africa than any other animal. Click here for interesting facts about buffaloes
The African Lion is the second largest living cat after the tiger (but there are no tigers in Africa!). Almost all wild lions live in Africa. Interestingly, lions are the only cats that live in groups, called “packs,” which can number up to 30 individuals. The lion’s roar can be heard up to 8 kilometers away. Female lions are the main hunters. Spending up to 20 hours a day sleeping or resting, lions are the laziest of felines but also the most sociable. For more information on the Lions, click here.
THE Rhinoceros (or Rhino) is the most threatened of the Big 5, with illegal wildlife trade posing the greatest threat to its survival, due to the demand for its horn. The gestation period for rhinos is 16 to 18 months – second only to the elephant above (22 months). Rhinos have poor vision, but their hearing and sense of smell are excellent. Rhinos can weigh over 3 tonnes, which is very impressive considering they mainly feed on grass and leaves. For more information on rhinos and rhino conservation, click here.
Last but not least, there is the Leopard. A nocturnal, solitary, secretive member of the cat family, remaining mostly hidden during the day. As a result, they are the least seen of the Big 5. The smallest of the big cats, leopards are known as “ambush predators”, hiding and ambushing their prey. Leopards are very strong, fast runners and excellent at climbing trees. They can run up to 58 km/h with incredible agility to catch their prey, after which they often climb trees dragging prey sometimes heavier than their body weight, to hide prey and prevent lions and hyenas from steal it. They are also good swimmers and occasionally eat fish and crabs. To learn more about the Leopards, click here.
We almost always see four out of five on our safaris – but the leopard is the most secretive of all – but sometimes we get lucky and enjoy wonderful leopard sightings, as we did this year!
In this blog, we have presented some interesting facts about “The Big 5”. In our next blog, we will focus on “The Little 5”.
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