African Big 5

In Africa, the term African Big 5 refers to the African Lion, Leopard, Elephant,Rhino and Buffalo. The Term "Big 5 or African Big 5" was realized by Big game hunters and refers to the most difficult 5 animals to Hunt by Foot.

Planning a Safari to Africa then the Big 5 quickly comes to mind, these incredible and magnificent animals are unique and splendid in their own. Witnessing any one of the Big 5 will truly remain embedded for years to come.

Viewing the African Big 5:

Self drive or organised safaris are the best ways to witness these amazing animals, bear in mind that the Leopard has to be one of the most difficult and is most often witnessed at night.

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-African Big 5-

-Cats-

-Lion-

Frequently Asked Questions

lion and foot print

Scientific Name:

Weight:

Status:

Panthera leo

190 kg Male / 130 kg Female

Vulnerable

hluhluwe lion

Lion

Lion's in Africa

The African Lion is the second largest cat in the world the Tiger being the largest. Lion's are incredibly social and live in groups called a Pride. A pride can have upto 3 males and the remainder will be females and their young. The pride size will be dependent on the availability of food and water. A Lion's roar can be heard as far a way as 8 km. A prides territory can extend as far as 260 square kilometers. It is the male's that will protect this territory. The thick mane of a male Lion safeguards them from fights. Female Lions primary job is to hunt and care for their young. Being smaller and a bit slower they hunt together contributing to their successful rates.

-Why They Matter-

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lion one of the african big 5
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The role that Lion's play in the environment is crucial. Without them entire ecosystems could falter. It is estimated that by 2050 they could be near extinction. They play a vital role in the food-chain in assisting the control of the herbivore  population. Should the herbivore population not be regulated then the population could cause competition among-st themselves and even cause some of them to go extinct. Lions have been known to kill large herbivores such as Giraffe and Elephant. Preying on herd animals Lions do prey on the weakest thus keeping the population resilient and healthy. Thus controlling parasites.

-Leopard-

Frequently Asked Questions

Scientific Name:

Weight:

Status:

Panthera pardus

17 to 90 kg

Endangered 

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Leopard

Leopards are one of the African Big 5, they are primary nocturnal animals. They are not social, and prefer to live a solitary life. Incredibly agile and are very good swimmers. They can leap upto 6 meters, they will usually take their prey into trees where they are more protected from other predators. Leopards can run upto 57 km/h. Gestation period of 90 to 105 days with a litter of 1 to 6 kittens. Cubs will suckle for 3 months and are kept hidden for upto 8 weeks. Leopards have the largest territory of all of the big cats. This ability has ensured their survival in various geographic areas. Leopards are carnivores and are of the best ambush predators.

-Why They Matter-

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Hluhluwe Game Reserve Leopard
Hluhluwe Game Reserve Leopard

Like that of the Lion, Leopards too play a vital role in the ecosystem in which they find themselves. Leopards today are unfortunately endangered. They have fared slightly better than other big cats due to their wide distribution and adaptability. Loss of habitat and prey has greatly diminished the numbers of these magnificent cats.

-Elephants-

Frequently Asked Questions

Scientific Name:

Weight:

Status:

Loxodonta

2000 to 6000 kg

Endangered 

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Elephant

Elephants can live upto 70 years in the wild. They are the largest of all land mammals, and can spend upto 16 hours a day eating. They consume between 300 to 500 pounds of food per day. They have bad eye sight however the largest brains in the animal kingdom. Males will only leave the herd at the age of between 12 to 15 years. Elephants can give birth every 3 to 4 years and the gestation period is 2 years. Babies when born can weigh approximately 250 pounds. It is the only mammal that can not jump. The average weight of an elephant heart is between 27 to 47 pounds. Only at the age of 16 can the female Elephant reproduce but rarely has more than 4 children.

-Interesting Facts-

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The tusk of an elephant is in actual fact incisors that grow throughout the elephants life. Growing an average of 7 inches per year. They are used to dig for salt, water and roots, debark trees clear paths and occasionally fight.The elephants ears are enormous and are used to cool the body down when warm.Their is a very structured order in elephants. The femals spend their lives in tight family groups of grandmothers, mothers, aunts, sisters and daughters. The eldest female would usually lead the group.

-Rhino-

Frequently Asked Questions

Scientific Name:

Weight:

Status:

Rhinocerotidae

White: 2300 kg Black Rhino: 1400 kg

Black Rhino Critically Endangered 

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Rhino

The White Rhino or Square Lipped Rhino is the largest of the 5 Rhino species. The large square lipped mouth is used to graze. They are also the most social of all rhino species. Originally mistranslated from dutch to English the wide rhino was named white rhino. Commonly known as a crash of Rhino's. Female become sexually mature at the age of 6 years. Males 10 to 12 years. Gestation of 16 months.

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-Interesting Facts-

Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park has the largest population of White Rhino in the world. Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park is also world renown for it's safe the Rhino campaign where Rhinos where saved from near extinction. Methods and techniques developed in Hluhluwe are still in use today for game capture. Visit the centenary center where can still today witness some of the artifacts used. Rhino's can be seen wallowing in mud which is done to cool them down. White Rhino's can run very fast considering their size upto 40 km/h in short bursts.

White Rhino scientific name: Ceratotherium simum

-Buffalo-

Frequently Asked Questions

Scientific Name:

Weight:

Status:

Syncerus caffer

590 kg

Population Decreasing

buffalo and print
buffalo one of the african big 5

Buffalo

African Buffalo have incredible sense of smell compared to that of their eye sight and hearing abilities. Buffalo will travel through water due to the fact that Lion's don't like to get wet. When herds travel the younger or weaker will stay in the center of the herd as a protective measure. Buffalo are seriously aggressive if injured and hence the fact that they are one of the African Big 5.

-Interesting Facts-

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Buffalo are known as ambush hunters, they kill more hunters than any other animal. The Buffalo's (hide) neck can be as thick as 2 inches. Buffalo have exceptional memories. One will usually see birds sitting on Buffalo these are Ox-peckers and they remove ticks and insects from the Buffalo. Lone Buffalo are usually known as Dagga Boys they are older and have passed their prime and have been separated from the herd.

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Heritage Tours & Safaris would like to invite you to discover the true Zululand, South Africa. The company offers a wide variety of day safaris and overnight safari packages. Established in 2003 the company is today the largest privately owned safari specialist company in Zululand.