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Posts Tagged ‘safari tours’

I am in Africa right now on a safari in Botswana. I feel so fortunate to travel to such an exotic location with beautiful animals and new experiences that I never dreamed of having! Before leaving for my trip, I tried to research the common phrase of “The Big Five” and what animals these entail that I would see on my trip. The more I think about it, you don’t have to travel far to see your own “Big Five” at your local zoo and make it a learning experience for your children.

“The Big 5” refers to African: lion, leopard, rhino, elephant, and Cape buffalo.  You might ask, “Why not the hippo, gorilla or giraffe?” They are all just as big and exciting or even something as fast as the cheetah? I discovered the term “big five” was actually coined by big game hunters (not safari tour operators). It refers to the difficulty in bagging these large animals, mostly due to their ferocity when being hunted in the past. Now, safari tour operators use the phrase “big give” and turned it into a marketing term.

Fun Big Five Facts

The African Elephant:

  • An elephant’s trunk is the fusion of its upper lip and nose, it has more than 40,000 muscles
  • An elephant calf often sucks its trunk for comfort
  • Elephants prefer one tusk over the other, just as people are either left or right-handed
  • Elephants use their trunk as a snorkel when swimming
  • Elephants waive their trunks up in the air and from side to side to smell better
  • An elephants’ skin is an inch thick
  • Elephants flap their ears to keep cool
  • Elephants spend up to 16-18 hours per day eating
  • Elephants’ tusks grow throughout their lives
  • Elephants use their feet to listen. They pick up sub-sonic rumblings made by other elephants through vibrations in the ground.

The Lion:

  • Lions rest around 20 hours a day
  • Lion cubs are born with spots (rosettes)
  • The size and coloration of a lion’s mane shows other males how fit and strong he is, the darker and larger the mane, the stronger the lion is
  • Lions do not purr like house cats
  • All lion tails end in a hairy tuft that develops when a cub is around 5 months old
  • All lions can climb trees, some rest up high more than others in certain areas to avoid buffalo and tsetse flies
  • Lions do not like to swim
  • As lion cubs get older, they nurse from any lactating female in their pride
  • Lions can differentiate between the roars of large groups and those of small groups and those of strangers from companions.
  • Male lions mark their territory by spraying a combination of urine and scent from glands at the base of their tails

The Leopard:

  • Leopards can kill prey larger than themselves
  • Leopards purr
  • Leopards are excellent swimmers
  • A leopard’s spots are in fact irregular circles called “rosettes”
  • A leopard stalks and pounces its prey, rather than chase it long distances
  • A leopard with no spots and a black coat is called a panther
  • A leopard cub begins to hunt with its mother at around 4-5 months old
  • The leopards’ spots are circular in East African but square in southern Africa
  • Leopards can jump 10 feet (3 m) straight up
  • White spots on the tip of their tails and back of their ears help leopards locate and communicate with each other in tall grass

The Rhino:

  • South Africa is home to more than 80% of Africa’s rhino population
  • The white rhino’s name derives from the Dutch “weit,” meaning wide, a reference to its wide, square muzzle adapted for grazing
  • Rhinos have three toes on each foot
  • A group of rhinos is called a crash
  • Oxpeckers eat the ticks off a rhino’s hide and also warn of danger
  • A charging rhino can reach speeds of 35 mph
  • A rhino’s horn is made of thick matted hair
  • Man is the rhino’s only natural predator
  • Rhino’s have roamed the earth for more than 50 million years
  • Female rhinos are pregnant for 15-16 months

The Cape Buffalo:

  • Buffalo will protect their calves by pushing them into the middle of the herd when danger lurks
  • Buffalo will mob a predator, especially if there’s a calf calling for help
  • Buffalo mate and give birth during the rainy season only
  • Cape Buffalo have never been domesticated
  • M’bogo is the (Ki)Swahili word for Cape Buffalo.
  • The ox-pecker bird keeps the Cape Buffalo clean by eating all the parasites that live in its thick hide
  • The Cape Buffalo can run at speeds of 35 mph

Check out some of Le Top’s animal themed clothing for your little one HERE!

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