Meet Africa's Big 5
The illustrious Big 5 are the quintessential must-see animals when undertaking a safari to Africa. And crisscrossing the continent there will be more than enough opportunities to observe the lion, leopard, elephant, rhino and buffalo roaming the wild and wonderful places of this vast landscape.
This elite group of species are most widely spread across southern and eastern Africa while fragmented populations occur in central Africa. There are a handful of destinations to consider when intending to marvel at the continent’s majestic and iconic Big 5. These include national parks and private game reserves in South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Kenya and Zambia.
For those visitors coming from afar and who may not be familiar with the intricacies of the specialised worlds of lions, leopards, elephants, rhinos and buffalos, here are some #FridayFacts about the Big 5 in Africa:
Facts about the African Lion
- From around 400,000 animals 75 years ago, their numbers have drastically fallen to less than 20,000 existing today.
- Pride members communicate by roaring over distances of up to 10 kilometres.
- Even though its regarded as an apex predator, the lion spends three-quarters of its day resting and sleeping.
- Lionesses are responsible for providing food for the rest of the team, relying on teamwork to bring down prey.
- The territory of a male lion can be more than 250 square kilometres.
Best places to see African lions
Facts about the African Leopard
- The leopard is the most solitary of the big cats and is mostly spotted on its own.
- It uses its short legs and stocky body of up to 90 kg to drag much bigger prey into the upper reaches of trees.
- Leopards are nocturnal animals and most active during under the cover of darkness.
- They use their excellent eyesight when stalking their prey as this is their preferred method of hunting.
- The leopard is covered in a unique pattern of rosettes that consist of spots grouped tightly and arranged precisely on a cream-yellow fur.
Top destinations to see African leopards
Facts about the African Elephant
- An elephant herd is led by a matriarch and consists of several adult cows and their offspring that includes younger cows and sub-adult bulls.
- The African elephant is one of the most intelligent animals, along with primates and dolphins.
- Females start breeding between 10 and 12 years of age and males start siring offspring from their mid-20’s onwards.
- Elephants have been known to pick up and handle the bones of dead elephants even years after they died.
- The conservation status of the African elephant is regarded as “Vulnerable” with the biggest threat to the specie the illegal trade in ivory.
Top spots to see African Elephants
Facts about the Black and White Rhino
- Black rhinos have a hooked lip they use to browse while white rhinos have a wide mouth to graze with.
- The longest horns recorded on a white and black rhino respectively were in the region of 150 centimetres.
- The calf of a white rhino cow runs in front of her, while a black rhino calf runs behind the cow.
- Rhino horns are made of keratin which is the same substance as human fingernails.
- Black rhinos are the most endangered in Africa with only around 5,500 animals remaining.
Best places to see Rhinos in Africa
Safari-goers in search of white and black rhinos in Africa can head to safari destinations such as South Africa and Kenya. Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Game Reserve in South Africa is home to the Big 5, including the rhino. Khama Rhino Sanctuary in Botswana is also a popular choice.
Facts about the Cape Buffalo
- There are around 400,000 buffalo in Africa.
- Buffalo have a wide range of sounds, including bellows, honks and grunts, that they use to signal a variety of actions and intentions.
- The species has been given the nicknames “the widowmaker” and “the Black Death” because of its unpredictable and deadly nature.
- Buffalo have smooth tongues while their skin can be up to five centimetres thick in some places.
- Even though buffalo feed mainly on grass, they can kill a lion when attacked.
Best safari destinations to see Cape Buffalo
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