Experience “The Big Five” in Africa
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Nowadays, many people go on safari in Africa to spot and take pictures of “The Big Five”. However, do you know what “The Big Five” is and what it means? Why exactly is “The Big Five” so special that it merits experiencing a safari trip?
What is “The Big Five”
“The Big Five” is an old hunting term and an expression that refers to specific animals that are difficult to take down when hunting. It is the lion, leopard, elephant, rhino and buffalo which, together, constitute “The Big Five”. This classification is not based on their physical size, but more on the fact that they are of the highest level of difficulty and the most dangerous to hunt. If you spot all of these animals on your safari, then you can consider it a successful experience!
What characterizes the animals in “The Big Five”?
A typical lion pride consists of 2-4 adult males, 10-15 females and their young. The male lions of the pride are usually nomads that have become residents from the outside, while females are all related to each other. Lionesses live in the pride for life, unless they are forced to be divided and become nomadic due to food scarcity. On the other hand, male lions are forced to leave the pride when they begin to compete with the pride’s alpha male.
The lion’s preferred prey are medium-sized animals such as wildebeest, zebras and larger antelopes. The females go hunting together in groups and when the spoils are brought down, the males come to eat first. A large portion of the lions’ food consists of carrion that they steal from other predators.
If you are hoping to spot the lion on your safari trip, they canvass the plains and open grassy areas.
The Leopard is a lone hunter and moves lithely on both the ground and in trees.
The leopard is mostly a nocturnal animal and therefore spends most of the day asleep in a tree or bush. The Leopard’s diet consists of everything from beetles to antelope, but it prefers prey that are its own size. If the leopard senses that there are other animals in the area, it then drags its prey up a tree to prevent predators from stealing it. Females are mostly alone in the upbringing of their young.
You may be lucky enough to spot the leopard in deserts, on the savannah, in the dense forest and in the suburbs of large cities.
The African elephant is distinguished by its enormous size and, not least, its well-developed tusks.
Elephants tend to live in family groups of female elephants and their young. You can probably see that there are about 10 elephants in a herd, but it is not uncommon to spot elephant herds of over 20 elephants.
An elephant has six sets of molars in the upper and lower jaw. The wear on the jaw teeth is critical to how old the elephant is. When the last set of molars have worn down, the elephant can no longer process food and, therefore, dies of hunger. This usually happens when the elephant is between the age of 50 and 60-years-old.
Elephants are widely used in Africa and, therefore, you have a good chance of spotting them on the savannah and in the dense forest.
In Africa, there are two kinds of rhinoceros; the black rhino and the white rhino.
The Black Rhino
The black rhino is the smallest of the two African species, and weighs about 1000-1300 kg. The front horn, which is usually the longest, can grow up to 130 cm. The males often move alone in their own territory, while the females and the calves move around over large areas. The black rhino is good at adapting to its own environment.
If you want to spot the rhinoceros, you should look at the border between the forest and the savannah.
The White Rhino
Only elephants and hippos are heavier than the white rhino, where males typically weigh between 2000-2300 kg. The anterior horn is about 60 cm long, but it can grow up to 150 cm in length.
Due to the width of its lips, the white rhino lives entirely off of grass. The males move alone in a territory, which is, among other things, territorially marked with their urine. When it is time for the young to leave their mother, it either finds itself together with another female or with other young rhinos.
It is not uncommon to experience several crashes of white rhinos around watering holes.
The Cape buffalo lives in large parts of Africa. The buffalo is good at defending itself, but it can happen that they fall prey to lions and crocodiles. The horns of a cape buffalo can grow up to 160 cm long and are used to keep animals, such as lions and hyenas, away.
In periods of drought, buffalos search for areas with watering holes so that it can drink from and roll in them. You can discover the cape buffalo in troops of about 30-50 buffalos, but there are also large troops of several hundreds of them. A buffalo only usually goes on attack if it is alone or wounded and, thus, feels threatened.
If you want to discover the buffalo, you must search the forest areas and on the savannah.
Where can you experience “The Big Five”
If you want to experience ”The Big Five”, you can travel to popular safari destinations such as Tanzania, Kenya and South Africa. Here, there are many beautiful and well-known national parks where you have a chance to experience many of Africa’s fascinating animals, also including those from “The Big Five”. The guides on your safari will do everything in their power for you to experience “The Big Five”. Some of the animals can be difficult to spot, so you have to keep your eyes and ears open!