Some of Africa’s Big Five Facts
Did You Know – Leopard
Did you know that leopards have unusually long whiskers? This is a useful feature for an animal who hunts in the darkness and allows it to determine if a gap is big enough to fit through.
The long stiff hairs growing around the mouth are called vibrissae, tactile organs of touch. But most of us would know them as plain, old whiskers; a feature the leopard shares with other mammals, including the domestic cat.
Another thing that leopards and domestic cats share is that males of both species are known as “toms.”
Did You Know – Rhino
Did you know that a collective group of rhino is known as a “crash” of rhino? And did you know that a rhino can, despite its bulk, move at a speed of up to 40 kilometres an hour? Not bad for the second (white) and third (black) largest land mammals.
Although called black rhino and white rhino, both animals are an attractive and camouflaging grey color. The white rhino is not included in the big five. Only black rhino are one of the big five. The reason it is not included here, is because the public cannot see them in the Kruger Park, because they are kept in special secret areas and guarded by rangers to protect them from poachers. The differences are that the white rhino is a square lipped grazer, eating grass while the smaller, black rhino is a browser with a hook shaped lip allowing it to consume twigs and leaves.
Did You Know Cape Buffalo
Did you know that Cape Buffalo have leaders called “pathfinders” to lead the herd? These frontrunners are not specifically dominant animals; they only act as trailblazers when the herd is on the move.
The sociable buffalo lives in vast,mixed herds; males, females, offspring all together in a herd that can number hundreds and thousands of individuals. Within this huge group, there will be sub-groups of related cows and their young. These groups will split up into satellite groups when resources are plentiful in the – rainy season – and each clan will have their own “pathfinders” or point men to lead the way. These smaller herds will come together again in one large herd when resources begin to dwindle and grazing becomes scarce. This coming together, is the sign for the buffalo to move on to new and better grazing together. And here too “pathfinders” – elders – play the lead role, having learned the way to winter grazing from previous generations.
Did You Know – Lion
Did you know that lions don’t just communicate with audible noise? The two young males in this picture are signalling displeasure at the human attention to each other using their ears!
The black patches behind the ears and the black tip of a lion’s tail are “follow me” markers that are only visible from behind when hunting. In both examples, the black patches can be clearly seen on the flattened ears.
During a hunt, lions can silently signal to one another and the black tip of a female’s tail is a waving “flag” for her cubs to follow above the thick grass.
Did You Know – Elephant
Did you know that elephants have toenails? And did you know they use their toenails to harvest their food?
By holding a clump of grass taut with their trunk, an elephant will use their toenails to cut the grass off at the base, leaving the roots and ground behind to keep growing.
Elephants will also gather together mounds of short grass or fruit using their feet and scoop up the tasty piles with their trunk.