Do you KNOW the Big Five?

April 10, 2010

Talk of South Africa and you have to mention the Big Five: the Lion, the Elephant, the Leopard, the Rhino and the Wild Buffalo.

These 5 animals rule the game reserves of South Africa. And yes, no game drive is complete without seeing all of them.

Here’s an interesting video about the Big Five.

Wouldn’t it be a thrilling experience to cruise past them in your jeep, stopping when you wanted?

Let’s look at each of these fascinating animals in detail.

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THE LION

Weight: About 170 kg. (About twice the average man’s weight).

Diet: Carnivorous diet. Lions are opportunists. They  can eat the remains of an animal someone else has killed. They can also hunt and eat animals ranging from the a small hare to a huge African buffalo.

Life Span: Around 16 years in the wild.

What’s so interesting about lions?

A lot! For example,

* The roar of a male lion can be heard up to a distance of 8 km! If you live in Mumbai, that means a lion roaring at Mumbai CST can be heard at Mumbai Central!

* Interestingly, lionesses do most of the hunting and bring the prey home. Lions mostly chill out! And guess what, the lionesses wait for the lions to finish eating the food they bring and then consume only the left overs! Add to all this, it is they who have to bring up the lion cubs….. A case for lioness empowerment, eh? 🙂

Here’s a lion…

lion africa

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THE ELEPHANT

Weight: 4 to 6 tons. ( Half the weight of an 84 passenger school bus!).

Diet: They graze and also uproot trees and and shrubs. And how much do they eat? 300 Kgs a day. That is about 130 times the food an average man eats in a day!

Life Span: 60 to 70 years.

What’s so interesting about elephants?

* An elephant herd comprises almost entirely of female elephants and their young ones! The male elephants leave the herd when they are 12 years old and then never come back. Many male elephants roam alone after mating…

* Elephants drink about 190 litres of water a day. That’s equal to the amount of water I use everyday to bathe, wash clothes and dishes, clean my house, shave, and do everything I can! Wow.

African Elephant

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THE LEOPARD

Weight: 70 Kg. (I am amazed by the VAST difference in weights amongst the Big Five. The leopard weighs as much as you and me while the Elephant weighs 60 times your weight!)

Diet: Carnivorous. It eats small animals and medium sized antelopes.

Life Span: 20 years.

What’s so interesting about leopards?

* Leopards are staunch advocates of living alone. So much so, that they actually fight any other leopard they accidentally encounter! However, they do sometimes hunt with their mate.

* Leopards have a special ability: they can hang upside down from trees! It is interesting to watch a full grown leopard do that though. 😉

Here’s a leopard posing for Namaste South Africa by the way.


leopard

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THE RHINO

Weight: 1 to 2 tons. ( The weight of an average car.)

Diet: Leaves, buds and shoots of plants is what a species of Rhino called the Black Rhino eats. The White Rhino eats grass. But yes, all rhinos are veggies.

Life Span: 35 to 40 years.

What’s so interesting about rhinos ?

* Well, we all know that the elephant is the largest land animal on earth right? We’ve learn that since childhood. 🙂 Ever wondered which is the second largest land animal? Our good old white rhino.

* Rhinos have lived on this earth since the last 50 million years. That’s way more than other animals like lions. And of course about 50 times older than man, who’s been there since about a million years. 🙂

rhino africa

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THE AFRICAN BUFFALO

Weight: 900 Kg.

Diet: Grass, grass and still more grass! And some leaves at times. 😉

Life Span: 16 Years.

What’s so interesting about buffaloes?

Yeah, that’s what you might be wondering. Buffaloes? What’s amazing about buffaloes? But, you see, these are not our good old Indian buffaloes. They are African buffaloes –  different creatures altogether.

* The African buffalo is considered to be the most dangerous of the Big Five. Why? Because it is so unpredictable! It gets nervous when not in a herd and attacks at the slightest provocation. And yes, once injured or attacked it NEVER forgives. Some buffaloes have been known to follow hunters who attacked them till the very end…

* Buffaloes have 4 times the strength of an Ox. And if you didn’t notice the statistics, they weigh four times a lion!

What’s this one thinking?

african buffalo picture

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So well, when are you coming to South Africa? You might like looking at this fascinating page that tells you about some wild tours!

Here’s dedicating this entry to the Big Five!