Africa is home to a vast array of animal species that include but are not limited to reptiles (crocodiles, snakes, lizards etc) mammals (hippos, wild cats, antelope, zebra, giraffe, wild dogs etc), birds (eagles, vultures, fish eagle, owls etc), fish (sharks, dolphins, whales etc), spiders, and other smaller creatures.
Africa is also home to the iconic Big Five, which consists of The Cape Buffalo, African Lion, African Elephant, African Leopard and The Rhino.
Background to the name
The name “Big Five” originally derived in the 19th and 20th century when trophy hunting was very popular. Highly skilled and professional hunters would compete and try to hunt as many rhino, lion, buffalo, elephant and leopard as they could in a short space of time. These 5 animals were considered the most dangerous to hunt whilst on foot and since then the name Big Five remains to this day.
- The African Lion
The lion is known as the “king of the beasts”. This majestic cat lives amongst their pride and are very skilled and organised hunters. The lionesses usually go out to hunt, whilst the male lions ensure their lineage and the safety of their pride. The males have a thick bushy mane around the head whilst this is not the same for female lions. Lionesses of the same pride take care of each other’s young.
- The African Rhinoceros (white/black)
The Rhino is a stocky species that only feed off grass and are thus herbivores. They can grow to weigh up to 900kg and have a thick skin of about 1 to 5cm. The Rhino is well known for it’s horn which is believed, in Asian cultures, to have many benefits. Over the years, illegal poaching has been the result of a rapid decline in the rhino species throughout Africa. Conservation efforts aid in the fight to preserve the African Rhino.
- The African Buffalo
The African Buffalo is a large animal with a robust body that can measure about 1.7m – 3.4m from head to tail where males are in general larger than the females. Buffaloes can be seen in large herds usually grazing or drinking water, the larger the heard, the stronger the buffalo.
- The Leopard
The Leopard is part of the Big Cat family. They are characteristically known by the black rosette patterns on their coats, slim body and tawny, yellow or gold fur coat. Leopards are great stealthy hunters with the ability to catch and take down large prey by themselves.
- The African Elephant
The African Elephant is a very large creature with long ivory tusks as well as large ears. The Elephant is an herbivore with the ability to consume about 300kg of grass per day. It uses it’s long flexible trunk to grab and break off pieces of grass or as a means to drink water. One could say that the trunk of an elephant works like an arm with a hand.
Elephants live with their families and each family unit is made up around 10 females with their calves and is led by the matriarch who is the female leader. Elephant families can also bond with other groups of families unrelated to their own.
Protection against Poachers
Illegal poaching of the big five has caused an unbalance in the expected lifespan of these 5 animal species and conservation implementation and various organizations work hard to fight against illegal poaching in the fight to save and preserve these beautiful creatures of the wild.
If you’d like to see The Big Five as well as various animal, bird and flora species, then a trip to the Kruger National Park South Africa is the perfect destination to capture these magnificent creatures within their natural habitation.