The Big Five
Elegance, aggression, intelligence all wrapped up in the big five.
The term Rhinoceros or rhino means “a horn on its nose.”
In Africa, there are two species of rhino namely the black and white rhino. Although they are called black and white rhino, they are both grey in colour.
The white rhino is more sociable than the Black Rhino. It is commonly seen in groups of about 10 to 15 individuals in a well organized social structure known as a crash. Unlike the white rhino, black Rhinos are very solitary animals, with bulls associating with cows only for mating.
Rhino’s eat leaves, twigs, fruit and sand. With their horns, they shovel the ground for mineral salts that are found in the sand, fight to establish territory, battle for females during courtship and defend themselves and their young against predators
The bulls mark their territory by dragging their feet trough their dung, scattering it all over the place and by urinating on to bushes. The teenager rhinos and calves stay with their mother only until the next calf is born. When this happens, they are driven out of the herd and forced to find their own territories.
They shortsighted, but their sense of smell and hearing is very acute.
Leopards are elegant and powerfully built. They have long bodies, relatively short legs, broad heads and a lovely tawny coat that is covered with dark, irregular circles called "rosettes" which give them an almost perfect camouflage in the wilderness.
They are unique members of the cat family. They can climb trees, swim and live in a wider range of habitats than most other wild cats. They like to use trees as observation platforms, to protect them from predators and for storing their kill as lions and hyenas like to take away a leopard's kill. So when on safari, remember to look up to see this solitary beautiful cat resting in the branches of a tree.
Leopards are shy, nocturnal and quite modest. Although they adapt to many environments regardless of whether it is a warm or cold climate, their favorite habitats are dense bushes within rocky surroundings and riverine forests. Their adaptability has helped them survive the loss of habitat to increasing human settlement.
The leopard is a cunning, stealthy hunter, its prey ranges from strong-scented carrion, fish, reptiles, birds and mammals.
Elephants are very intelligent and highly social animals. They live in herds, made up of the matriarch (the oldest female in the group), her female calves and the youngsters. A herd can comprise of between 6 to 30 animals. Upon reaching puberty, which occurs when they are thirteen or fourteen years of age, they split to form new herds but always maintaining contact with each other at water holes and feeding spots.
Elephants are heavy eaters. They eat about 250 Kg of food in a day which includes any vegetable matter such as leaves, grass, reeds, roots, flowers, fruits, bark and even soil if the mineral content is high. Besides eating all that food, they drink about 150 to 200 liters of water a day.
Male elephants are larger than females. Their tusks are also longer and heavier.
Speaking of tusks, elephants also have 6 sets of molar teeth; when the last set of teeth comes out, they are unable to eat and eventually die.
Their trunk is a union of the nose and upper lip which is highly sensitive organs with over 100,000 muscle units.
Elephants have a longer life span as compared to other animals. They live for about 50 to 60 years or possibly more.
Lions are the most social of the cat family. They like to stay in groups called prides. The average pride consists of about 15 individuals: 5 to 10 females, their young, and 2 or 3 territorial males.
The lionesses do the hunting usually at night, late afternoon or early morning. They hunt in groups to ensure a greater success of capturing their prey. Despite the lionesses doing all the hunting, the lion eats first followed by the lionesses and finally the little cubs.
A lion is highly distinctive and is easily recognized by its mane. The darker a lions mane, the older it is.
Both lions and lionesses roar, a sound which can be heard as far as 8 km away. Their average lifespan is 13 years.
Notorious for being very aggressive and extremely dangerous animals, Buffaloes are surprisingly very peaceful amongst themselves. They live in herds whereby the dominant bull is the oldest bull in the herd.
Buffaloes generally prefer habitats with dense cover such as reeds and thickets. They mostly live in swamps, floodplains as well as montane grasslands, woodlands and forests of the major mountains of Africa.
They have few predators and are capable of defending themselves against (and sometimes killing) lions. Lions do kill and eat buffalo regularly, but it typically takes multiple lions to bring down a single adult buffalo
Buffaloes mate and give birth strictly during the rainy seasons