If you think the Big 5 is all about the five largest animals sighted in Africa, you are wrong. 'Big 5' is a term coined by hunters and refers to the five most difficult animals to hunt! Let’s take a look at Africa’s Big 5
Weight: About 170kgs (That’s close to twice the weight of an average human!)
Diet: Carnivorous. Lions can eat the remains of an animal someone else has killed. They can also hunt and eat animals ranging from a small hare to a huge African buffalo.
Lifespan: Around 16 years in the wild
- The roar of a male lion can be heard up to a distance of 8kms.
- Interestingly, the lioness does most of the hunting and brings the prey home. Lions chill out and eat whatever the lionesses bring home!
- With a swipe of one paw, a lion can break a wildebeest’s neck.
- A lion can carry twice its weight in its powerful jaws.
- Lions, like any other cat, can see at night like humans see during daytime. This is due to the fact that their retina is lined with a tissue called tapetum lucidum, which reflects back the light passing the rods of the retina.
- Lions rest for around 20 hours a day.
- Lion cubs are born with spots (rosettes).
- The size and colouration of a lion’s mane shows other males how fit and strong he is. The darker and larger the mane, the stronger the lion is.
- All lion tails end in a hairy tuft that develops when a cub is around five months old.
- Lions do not like to swim.
Diet: Carnivorous. They eat small animals and medium-sized antelopes.
Lifespan: 20 years
- Leopards prefer to live alone.
- Leopards have a special ability to hang upside down from trees!
- Leopards can kill prey larger than themselves.
- Leopards purr.
- Leopards are excellent swimmers.
- A leopard’s spots are in fact irregular circles called ‘rosettes’.
- A leopard stalks and pounces on its prey, rather than chase it long distances.
- A leopard cub begins to hunt with its mother when it is around four to five months old.
- Leopards can jump 10ft straight up.
- White spots on the tip of their tail and back of their ears help leopards locate and communicate with each other in tall grass.
Weight: 4 to 6 tons
Diet: They graze and also uproot trees and shrubs and eat close to 300kgs of food a day.
Lifespan: 60 to 70 years
- An elephant herd comprises almost entirely of female elephants and their young ones! The male elephants leave the herd when they are 12 years old and then never come back.
- Elephants drink close to 190 litres of water a day.
- An elephant’s trunk is the fusion of its upper lip and nose. It has more than 40,000 muscles.
- An elephant calf often sucks its trunk for comfort.
- Elephants prefer one tusk over the other, just as people are either left or right-handed.
- Elephants use their trunk as snorkels when swimming.
- Elephants wave their trunks up in the air and from side to side so that they can smell things better.
- An elephant’s skin is 1 inch thick.
- Elephants flap their ears to keep cool.
- Elephants spend up to 18 hours per day eating.
- Elephants’ tusks grow throughout their lives.
- Elephants use their feet to listen. They pick up subsonic rumblings made by other elephants through vibrations in the ground.
Weight: 1 to 2 tons
Diet: The Black Rhino eats leaves, buds and shoots of plants whereas the White Rhino eats grass.
Lifespan: 35 to 40 years
- The rhino is the second largest land animal.
- Rhinos have lived on Earth for the last 50 million years.
- South Africa is home to more than 80% of Africa’s rhino population.
- Rhinos have three toes on each foot.
- A group of rhinos is called a crash.
- A charging rhino can reach speeds of 55kmph.
- A rhino’s horn is made of thick matted hair.
THE AFRICAN BUFFALO
Lifespan: 16 years
- The African buffalo is considered to be the most dangerous of the Big 5.
- If it gets nervous and is not in a herd, it will attack at the slightest provocation.
- A buffalo has four times the strength of an ox.
- Buffaloes will protect their calves by pushing them into the middle of the herd when danger lurks.
- Buffaloes will mob a predator, especially if there’s a calf calling for help.
- The African buffalo can run at speeds of 95kmph.