Africa's Big 5 Animals

Environment

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

 

THE LION

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

Facts:

- 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.

 

THE LEOPARD

Weight: 70kgs

Diet: Carnivorous. They eat small animals and medium-sized antelopes.

Lifespan: 20 years

Facts:

- 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.

 

THE ELEPHANT

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

Facts:

- 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.

 

THE RHINOCEROS

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

Facts:

- 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

Weight: 900kgs

Diet: Grass

Lifespan: 16 years

Facts:

- 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.

Also Read