The Big 5 – Before you start reading, try our for fun “how well do you know the Big 5” quiz on our facebook page.
Who are the big 5 and why?
When I first heard about the big 5 I assumed it had to be the 5 biggest animals. However, that is not the case. The term big 5 consist of the African Elephant, African Lion, African Leopard, African Rhino and the Cape Buffalo. The term was coined by game hunters who described the 5 most difficult animals to hunt, due to their wild nature and ferocity. Before the restrictions, hunting one these animals was considered a great achievement.
The African Elephant is the biggest animal of the Big 5, however, it is not considered the most dangerous. It is peaceful when not threatened. In some way, they are like humans. Elephants show respect for their dead. They also have a great memory and can recognize places many years after they revisit them. Male and female elephants only stay together during their breeding season.
- Elephants flap their ears to keep cool.
- An elephant’s skin is one inch thick.
- Elephants use their trunk as a snorkel when swimming.
Lion is the only African big cat that are social. Normally they live in prides with around three males, many more females and their cubs. Their reputation as the king of the jungle is a bit misleading when they actually are pretty lazy. They hunt in groups, however, the lionesses do most of the hunting while the lions defend their territory.
- Lions rest around 20 hours a day.
- Lions do not like to swim.
The leopard is the most adaptable big cat and can be found in a wide variety of environments. It uses most the day resting in tree branches and does the hunting during the night. After a kill, the leopard drags the carcass up tree branches to avoid other stronger predators, like lions, from stealing the food.
- Leopards are excellent swimmers.
- Leopards can kill prey larger than themselves.
There are two kind rhino’s, black and white, however, there is no color difference. The price for rhino horn is very high which plays a huge role, making it an endangered species because of poachers. For the same reason, conservationists focus very much on the rhino. They have poor eyesight, but great hearing and sense of smell.
- Man is the rhino’s only natural predator.
- A group of rhinos is called a crash.
The last one on the Big 5 list is the Cape buffalo. Because of its ill-temper and has killed many hunters, it is considered the most dangerous of the five. The buffalo is very social and live in large herds with up to 2000 members and they are never further away than a days walk from water. The buffalo gets 15-25 years old and the horns is a good indication to tell how old it is.
- Buffalo mate and give birth only during the rainy season.
- Buffalo protect their calves by pushing them into the middle of the herd.
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