Big Five Wildlife Species were classified back in the days when hunting was legal and practiced as a sport. Currently, some African countries have imposed a strict ban on wildlife hunting as sports and poaching.
The hunting sport back in the early 20th Century was practiced and played mostly by the colonial communities who were in Africa for trade, travel, and others to search for treasures and conquer to acquire colonies in Africa.
They categorized the big five wildlife species as per their behavior and how hard it was to get them or rather hunt them down. They were known to be fierce, dangerous, and tough.
What are the Big 5 Animals in Africa?
Africa’s big 5 is made up of two carnivores, the lion and leopard, and three herbivores, the rhino, elephant, and buffalo. The term Bif Five originates from game hunters who believed that these animals were the most dangerous to track and hunt on foot.
Common Big Five Wildlife Species in Africa
Below are the Big Five Wildlife Species that hunters back then found it was hard to hunt down. What are the big 5 animals in Africa? Characteristics of the big five animals depend on the species and are all totally different.
The Lion – King of the Jungle / Wilderness
Referred to as the King of the Wild, The savanna, The lions are the biggest cats in the African wilderness. They live in pride and pose danger to any threat they get. They are also powerful and strong. They kill huge animals, even more, heavy than them like buffalos, and giraffes. The lion population has been dropping due to poaching and human-wildlife conflict that’s experienced in Africa.
African Buffalos are huge and quite strong and very dangerous if they are found alone, secluded, and when angry. Buffalos are the most feared wildlife by the Lions. They are fearless and fight these big cats to fight for their lives. In most cases, buffalos kill lion cubs to show angriness and to lower their growth rate.
They move in huge numbers in a group to protect the calves and those that are not well and not strong enough to fight. They keep the weak at the back of the group since they walk slowly and don’t have the strength to move, hence exposed to predators such as the big cats.
The Rhinos – Rhinoceros
We have two types of rhinos in Africa, The Wide (White Rhinos) and the Black Rhinos. Most of which are endangered and some extinct such as the Northern White Rhinos. They are poached due to their horns being processed and lied to people as medicine. The illegal market has rendered most African Wildlife, especially the Northern White Rhino. They are always under the guard and protection of the rangers and forest officers.
They were considered the big five wildlife animals due to their aggressiveness and the danger they posed to hunters in the early days. They are fast and strong as well.
They are known to be very elusive, and dangerous when attacking an enemy or when hunting for food. They are short and have huge bodies compared to cheetahs.
Their spots are big and close to each other. They are predators that love to spend most of their time up the trees. Trees are essential in a leopard’s life, it helps them as vantage points, food hides, escape point, and resting places during the day. Leopards are lethal and very dangerous to humans.
The Elephants – African Savannah Elephants.
Known as the African Giants on Land, they mostly live and spend their lives in the African Savannah lands. Mostly found in the Eastern and Southern parts of Africa. They have always suffered and been threatened due to their ivories, they get poached and killed and their tusks are sold out into illegal markets around the world.
They are much protected similar to rhinos due to their horns and elephant tusks. In these cases, we have a lot of conservation initiatives that have been brought up to protect these wildlife species in Africa.
African big five animals facts
Because buffalo eat a large quantity of coarse material they need to drink regularly, up to twice a day managing as much as 34 liters in just 6 minutes.
A buffalo bull’s horns can grow to be 100 cm wide, 141 cm along the curve.
A black leopard is simply a normal leopard that has excessive levels of a black pigment known as melanin.
Rhino horn is made of keratin, the same stuff as our fingers and toenails. This grows at between 2 and 7 cm a year. Like hair, rhino horn is not attached to the bone but grows from the skin.
A rhino’s hearing is very good. This is aided by ears that rotate independently of one another to detect sound. Even during sleep, its ears will instinctively move in different directions to detect the sound of possible danger.
Elephants do not have sweat glands but they do cool down when water evaporates off their body. In times of extreme conditions, they sometimes put their trunk down their throat and suck water up which they then squirt over their body.
Elephants are highly intelligent with well-developed memories. This allows them to return to seasonal watering holes, grieve for the dead, harbor grudges, and welcome back long-lost herd members after years apart.
A Lion can run at a top speed of 22.2 meters per second which they can reach in five strides and maintain for up to 100m.
Lions will not pass up the opportunity of a free meal and scavenge when they can. So much so they will follow up on hyena calls and vulture activity to see what it may offer.
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