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The Animals of Africa

Safari School: The Animals of Africa

The Animals of Africa

Module : Buffalo Video 19

“Game” has historically referred to the African animals that were chosen by big game hunters to take home as trophies. Although this practice nowadays only happens in limited areas in Southern Africa the vocabulary is still used. Animals and the national parks or reserves they live in are commonly referred to as “game”, “game parks” and “game reserves” although there is not any modern hunting connection.

Africa is home to the safari and of course the very unique and iconic African animals. You will hear often about “The Big Five”. These were traditionally the 5 most difficult animals to hunt on foot and the grouping of these has stuck around as an indication of what you would want to see on an African safari.

The Big Five are:

The Lion - Known as the king of the jungle this is probably the animal that most represents Africa. Fast, powerful and known for its powerful roar.
The Elephant - The African elephant is the world’s largest land mammal and can reach sizes of up to 4m tall and weigh 10 tons. Extremely intelligent animals.
The Buffalo - The grumpy old men of the African savannah, buffalo are powerful animals that when fully grown most lions will think twice about approaching.
The Rhinoceros - Whether it be one of the black or white species of rhino these near sighted land tanks can be seen grazing peacefully with their large horns.
The Leopard - Leopards are very muscular and quick cats with amazing hunting abilities. They are also able to be almost invisible if they decide to be anti-social.

There are also many other groupings of animals just as an interesting way to view and “collect” sightings. Some of them are:

The Little 5: These are tiny animals to spot that share a name with the Big 5.

The Elephant shrew – A tiny mouse like creature with a tiny trunk.
The Buffalo weaver bird – A social bird these animals create huge nests.
The Rhinoceros beetle – A large beetle with a big horn, just like the rhino.
The Leopard tortoise – A tortoise with distinctive leopard like spots. The Antlion – A predatory ant that feasts on other ants.

The Ugly 5: Nature’s less picturesque animals. Then again, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and many people end up loving these animals.

The hyena – Much maligned but amazing hunters and great parents.
The wildebeest – The great migration are made up these awkward animals.
The vulture – The ultimate scavenger often seeing circling the skies.
The warthog – Like Pumba, these animals are a crowd favourite.
The marabou stork – Over 5ft tall with a 10ft wingspan, actually a scavenger.

The Marine 5: consisting of sharks, whales, dolphins, seals and penguins.

There are of course many other animals in Africa that are just as amazing to view and as famous. Some of them include:

Cheetah - The world’s fastest land mammal, capable of reaching speeds of 110km/hr when in pursuit of their prey. Cheetahs can be confused with leopards because of their spots but they are quite different. Cheetahs are almost dog like, similar to a large greyhound. Leopards are quite feline and very muscular, like a smaller spotted lion.

Ostrich - The world’s largest bird with great speed and a formidable kick.

Hippopotamus - Despite their teeth these vegetarian land mammals spend a large part of their lives in water, venturing out in the safety of darkness to feed.

Gorilla - These peaceful animals live in the forests of central Eastern Africa can provide the ultimate wildlife encounter.

Crocodiles - The apex predator of Africa’s waterways.

Wild dogs - Amazing persistence hunters that travel large distances every day.

And so on...

The major thing of note is that there are so many unique and special animals in Africa it may be hard to pick a favorite and indeed it is a great thing to discuss with fellow travellers over in Africa and once you get home. You will find it may change every time you visit also...

Sadly a few of these animals are in peril of extinction due to human interference in the way of poaching and habitat destruction. Africa is also home to amazing individuals and organisations hoping to reverse this trend. Tourism funds these efforts so if you're ever wondering what you can do to help then please just visit Africa.

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