Interesting facts about The Big 5

Posted on 3 April 2024 By Louise Bell

From leopards’ stalking ways to elephants’ stoic grandeur, The Big Five draws tourists to the plains of Africa to roam in their presence. There are many places to see these creatures in action and stay the night, such as the Royale Marlothi Safari Lodge in Marloth Park, but what do we know about these wild animals?

Unsplash/Denise Alex

The Big Five have a seemingly unending supply of unique characteristics and behaviours that will make any animal lover’s heart swell with pride (pun intended). Take a look at a few charming facts before booking your next safari adventure in Africa.

The African Lion

  • Lions have a very interesting dynamic regarding their social hierarchy – Male lions tend to protect and defend their territory and eat before the rest of the pride. Interestingly, the females are the ones who do the actual hunting and often do this in storms to take advantage of the noises these weather conditions usually accompany.
  • Lions are the only wild big cat group that roars together – This usually lasts around 40 seconds. This call is significant as it wards off any creature looking to enter their territory.
  • They have an interesting way of walking – These creatures’ heels do not touch the ground when strutting around.

The Leopard

  • Leopards are lone wolves – Quite the opposite of their maned cat kin; these animals prefer to live in solitude in a specific and often marked area. If they need to create offspring, they’ll interact with the opposite sex for the sole purpose of mating. This ritual usually lasts up to five days.
  • They eat a wide variety of things – While you might think springboks are the sole contributors to their diet, Leopards are not picky when it comes to choosing their dinner. From roaming reptiles to crawling insects, these cats will leap at any chance to catch a snack in action.

The Rhinoceros

  • Black and white rhinos aren’t so different – While there is a significant difference in numbers (black rhinoceros are critically endangered), they’re actually very similar in colour. They both have grey skin and can be told apart more accurately by noting the differences in their upper lips.
  • They are fast. You might not think these burly creatures can move quickly, but they can run up to 50 kilometers per hour.
  • Rhinos can’t see well – These creatures have small eyes and are located on the side of their heads, so their eyesight can be categorised as poor. This is why they rely heavily on their keen sense of smell.

The African Elephant

  • Their trunk is like a Swiss army knife – Meaning that their trunk has many purposes and functions. From holding up to 8 litres of water to cleaning their eyes from desert dust, this appendage is a magnificent advantage.
  • Elephants have a matriarchal system – The herd usually consists of mainly female adults and their accompanying calves. The matriarch is often the most senior in the herd, and the herds’ male counterparts usually only join the group for mating purposes.

The Cape Buffalo

  • Fear the walking Buffalo – While many of The Big Five are considered dangerous, this animal is known to ambush and charge without warning unsuspecting individuals in their surroundings.
  • These animals have a unique cleaning hack – As parasites tend to cling to these mammals, buffaloes allow oxpecker birds to roam on their bodies and help themselves to a snack (usually ticks). From their tails to the insides of their noses, these birds have a buffet of insects to choose from on these animals.

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ALSO READ: Tips for the perfect Kruger National Park safari

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