Big 5 Animals, Africa

Posted in Africa | November 23, 2010 | Comment Now

If you have recently begun researching on the African safari, or you plan on doing one soon, you must have surely come across the term of the Big 5 animals. Do you know what this means? The Big Five was a term that was coined to refer to 5 African animals – leopard, lion, rhino, elephant and the Cape buffalo.

But then again, this will make you wonder why the gorilla, giraffe and hippo do not make it to this list. Aren’t those big animals as well? Yes, they are. But the name Big 5 animals were given to these animals by the big game hunters (and not by the safari tour operators, as you may have believed). This term was coined to refer to the difficulty that they had when they tried to bag these large animals (hunting on foot), and this difficulty owed to the ferocity of these animals when they were cornered and shot at.

A Little About the Big 5 Animals:

African Elephant:

The African elephant is said to be the largest mammal in the world. It is remarkably adaptable for an animal that huge. These elephants are quite peaceful if they’re left alone. But you wouldn’t want to stand in the way, if they feel threatened. These elephants are known to measure up to a cool 14 feet in height and around 30 feet in width. They are known to gobble up 30 gallons of water in a single day and are strict vegetarians.

African Rhino:

The black rhinos and the white rhinos – there are two categories that can be seen in Africa. The black rhinos have been known to suffer a lot of reduction in numbers during the last one decade. There are said to be only about 4000 of them left around the globe. There have been conservation efforts to save those numbers. Black rhinos are said to be more solitary, while the white rhinos are known to be more social, living in groups. The easiest way to distinguish between a black rhino and a white one (they’re all actually grey in color) is the fact that the black rhinos will have a prehensile lip which is helpful when it comes to stripping leaves off the bushes (they are known to live in the shrubby, tropical bush areas). The lips on white rhinos are flat, and these are suited to grazing. Another interesting piece of information about these creatures is that an adult rhino could weigh about 6000 pounds.

African Leopard:

The African leopard is said to have larger numbers than its rhino counterparts when it comes to being in the league of the Big 5 animals. The spots of the leopard are what offer for excellent chances of it camouflaging itself into its surroundings. These animals are shy and are best described as nocturnal. These leopards will rarely stay in the same place, and are known to have quite a wide range among which they try to move. The males will have ranges that are wider than the females, and they will mark it by urinating and leaving marks created by their claws. An adult male leopard will be smaller than the adult lion, but can still weigh a whopping 200 lbs.

African Lion:

This is the king of the sub-Saharan savanna, which is known to be admired for its beauty and strength. This is said to be one of the most exciting animals that you can view when on a safari. These large cats are known for their hunting skills; but you might end up seeing them sleeping rather than hunting.

These lions are highly social by nature. They are known to live in prides, with several females, the young ones, and a couple of males. They will cooperate and coordinate when it comes to hunting a more difficult prey like the buffalo, but when it comes to an antelope, they’d rather hunt alone. Female lions are known to synchronize the births of their cubs, so that could raise them together.

Cape Buffalo:

The Cape buffalo is a common sighting when you’re in one of the protected wildlife areas of Africa. If there is a lot of water available, chances are that you’ll see the Cape buffalo close by. There have been four subtypes documented of the African buffalo – West African Savanna Buffalo, Central African Savanna Buffalo, Forest Buffalo and Southern Savanna Buffalo.

Cape buffalos are large and each adult could stand at around 5 – 6 feet high. The males would weigh somewhere around 1500 pounds. Even the supreme most predators, the African lion, wouldn’t dare take a chance at a Cape buffalo, unless he has other members from the pride along with him. These animals are known to live in herds as large as 1000 buffaloes. Surprisingly, they have very few scuffles between them. This is perhaps because the buffaloes known that their strong horns could cause for some serious injuries. This doesn’t mean that battles do not happen; but when they do happen, they’re brief.

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