Monday, March 18, 2013

The Big Five: Elephant, Rhinoceros, Buffalo, Leopard & Lions

"The Big Five" a.k.a. The African Big Five was coined by big-game nature/big-time wildlife hunters and refers to the five most dangerous / most difficult (not necessarily their size; i.e. giraffes, hippopotamus, etc.) animals in Africa to hunt on foot.

Let's cut-to-the-chase and get to what we've been waiting for: 

#1 African Elephant

African elephants are the largest land animals on Planet Earth.
  • An elephant's trunk is the fusion of its upper lip and nose, it has more than 40,000 muscles
  • An elephant calf often sucks its trunk for comfort
  • Elephants prefer one tusk over the other, just as people are either left or right-handed
  • Elephants use their trunk as a snorkel when swimming
  • Elephants waive their trunks up in the air and from side to side to smell better
  • An elephants' skin is approx. an inch thick
  • Elephants flap their ears to keep cool
  • Elephants spend up to 16-18 hours per day eating
  • Elephants' tusks grow throughout their lives
  • Elephants use their feet to listen. They pick up sub-sonic rumblings made by other elephants through vibrations in the ground.

#2 African Rhino

Black rhinoceros are shortsighted and bad tempered — they have long been hunted for its horns;
which is the cause of their near extinction
  • South Africa is home to more than 80% of Africa's rhino population
  • The white rhino's name derives from the Dutch "weit," meaning wide, a reference to its wide, square muzzle adapted for grazing
  • Rhinos have three toes on each foot
  • A group of rhinos is called a crash
  • Oxpeckers eat the ticks off a rhino's hide and also warn of danger
  • A charging rhino can reach speeds of 35 mph
  • A rhino's horn is made of keratin, the composite is similar to a horses hoof
  • Man is the rhino's only natural predator
  • Rhino's have roamed the earth for more than 50 million years
  • Female rhinos are pregnant for 15-16 months

#3 African Lion 

African Lions are oft-hailed as the King of the Jungle;
having few natural predators besides the occasional buffalo
  • Lions rest around 20 hours a day
  • Lion cubs are born with spots (rosettes)
  • The size and coloration of a lion's mane shows other males how fit and strong he is, the darker and larger the mane, the stronger the lion is
  • Lions do not purr like house cats
  • All lion tails end in a hairy tuft that develops when a cub is around 5 months old
  • Man-eating lions do exist
  • All lions can climb trees, some rest up high more than others in certain areas to avoid buffalo and tsetse flies
  • Lions do not like to swim for they do not like water
  • As lion cubs get older, they nurse from any lactating female in their pride
  • Lions can discriminate the roars of large groups from those of small groups and those of strangers from companions.
  • Male lions mark their territory by spraying a combination of urine and scent from glands at the base of their tails

#4 African Leopard

African Leopards are elusive & nocturnal; tend to store their fresh kill
up in a tree to avoid it getting poached by lions and hyenas
  • Leopards can kill prey larger than themselves
  • Leopards purr
  • Leopards are excellent swimmers
  • A leopard's spots are in fact irregular circles called "rosettes"
  • A leopard stalks and pounces its prey, rather than chase it long distances
  • A leopard with no spots and a black coat is called a panther
  • A leopard cub begins to hunt with its mother at around 4-5 months old
  • The leopards' spots are circular in East African but square in southern Africa
  • Leopards can jump 10 feet (3 m) straight up
  • White spots on the tip of their tails and back of their ears help leopards locate and communicate with each other in tall grass

#5 Cape Buffalo

Cape Buffalo do not have many natural enemies and are capable of
defending themselves against lions.
  • Buffalo will protect their calves by pushing them into the middle of the herd when danger lurks
  • Buffalo will mob a predator, especially if there's a calf calling for help
  • Buffalo mate and give birth during the rainy season only
  • Cape Buffalo have never been domesticated
  • M'bogo is the (Ki)Swahili word for Cape Buffalo.
  • The ox-pecker bird keeps the Cape Buffalo clean by eating all the parasites that live in its thick hide
  • The Cape Buffalo can run at speeds of 35 mph

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