There are many attractions on the beautiful African continent, but when visiting this safari paradise one (or should we say five ;)) definitely stands out above the rest.
The Big 5 consist out of the lion, elephant, buffalo, leopard and the rhino. Here are ten wild facts about these incredible animals you might not have known:
- Buffalo’s primary predator is the lion. Buffalo will try to rescue another member who has been caught. They have been observed killing a lion after it has killed a member of the group. Talk about loyalty!
- Leopards are excellent at climbing trees. They’ll often safeguard their kill in a tree to prevent lions and hyenas from stealing it. They are also strong swimmers and occasionally eat fish and crabs if the opportunity presents itself.
- African elephants communicate across large distances at a low frequency that cannot be heard by humans.
- Rhinos have poor vision and will sometimes attack trees and rocks by accident. However, their hearing and sense of smell are excellent, thus often making up for their poor eyesight.
- The African buffalo is not believed to be closely related to the water buffalo even though they superficially resemble each other. And unlike the water buffalo, the dangerous African buffalo has never been domesticated.
- The rhino is the most endangered species of the Big Five. Rhino poaching worldwide hit a 15-year high in 2009. The illegal trade is being driven by an Asian demand for horns, made worse by increasingly sophisticated poachers who are now using veterinary drugs, poison, cross bows and high calibre weapons to kill rhinos. Very few rhinos now survive outside national parks and reserves. All the more reason to assist in conservation efforts.
- Typically, the darker a lion’s mane, the older he is.
- The leopard is nocturnal, solitary and secretive, staying hidden during the day. They are the least seen of the Big Five, making it very special to encounter this majestic beast while on game drive.
- Many plant species have evolved seeds that are dependent on passing through an elephant’s digestive tract before they can germinate. At least one third of tree species in West African forests rely on elephants in this way for dissemination.
- White rhinos aren’t white, but slate gray to yellowish brown in color. The species name actually takes its root from Dutch, “weit” (wide), in reference to the animal’s wide muzzle.