Off for a photo safari to Tanzania for yet another adventure and to be one with the nature…Will keep you all updated about the game!!
The African lion as most of know is the king of the savannah. I have done numerous safari trips, but never got a photographic sight as per my imagination. I was lucky to spot that dream shot during a recent trip to Masai Mara where during a morning game drive, saw this majestic samba sitting over an ant hill basking in the morning light . His mane was swaying in the gentle breeze and the pride on his face was a sight to remember.
The big five animals include lion, elephant, Rhino, Cape buffalo and the leopard. Let us read some interesting facts about these animals. Lion Known as the only truly social cats, lions live a nomadic lifestyle in groups called prides, with a pack mentality that is usually led by the females. Lions’ bodies are built for hunting: They are strong and compact, with strong forelimbs and jaws that help them bring down their prey. Females stay in their mother’s prides their entire lives, unless food shortage forces the pride to fracture. Males, however, are forced out of their pride when they are old enough to compete with the dominant males. Male lions will roam in groups, usually made up of related individuals, and search for prides to take over. Males typically only live in a pride for two to three years before being forced out by another group. A lion’s roar can be heard up to 5 miles away. Lions have no specific habitat preference so you could expect to see them anywhere during your bush trip. But they are territorial. When you spot these African animals resting in some shade, you will see them enjoying good fellowship with lots of – touching, head rubbing, licking and purring. Leopard The largest cat species that climbs trees regularly, leopards can drag prey weighing up to three times their own body weight up into trees over 20 feet (6 meters) tall and they can hunt from trees. Leopards are not only comfortable in water, they are in fact strong swimmers that sometimes eat fish and even crabs. This beautiful, elegant, and powerfully built African animal has a tawny coat, which is covered with dark, irregular circles called rosettes. This shrewdest of the large carnivores is a prize encounter on all game drives. Dense bush in rocky surroundings and riverine forest are their favorite habitats. The spotted coat provides almost perfect camouflage when they rest during the daytime in trees or thick bush. Both lions and hyenas will take away the kill if they can. To prevent this, leopards store their larger kills in trees where you can often see them feed on it in relative safety. Elephants Elephants can get sunburned and throw sand on their backs and heads to prevent sunburn and keep insects off their skin. Baby elephants are born blind and some individuals suck their trunks for comfort, similar to the way young humans suck their thumbs. When elephants approach you during a safari trip, switch off your car engine and give them space to pass. Take some time to see how these African wild animals use their trunks as a – hand, extra foot, communication device and observe how expertly elephants use it as a – tool for gathering food, siphoning of water, dust baths, and digging for food. The African elephant is the largest living land mammal with a prodigious appetite and you will see these hungry animals eat roots, grasses, fruit, and bark for most of the day. Rhinos Black rhinos can pick up small objects and even open gates and vehicle doors with their prehensile upper lips. Look out for white rhinos in grassland areas with trees and water. You will notice them spending most of their day grazing on grasses, walking with their enormous heads and squared lips lowered to the ground. To distinguish them from their black counterparts, notice the pointed, often tufted ears, flattish back and elongated head and look for a calf that usually runs ahead of the mother. Buffalo Buffalo are said to have killed more hunters in Africa than any other wild animal. Buffalos have good memories and are known to ambush hunters that have harmed them in the past. The only wild cattle species, females buffalos have strong bonds and if one individual is attacked the entire herd will defend the victim. You will often spot buffaloes on their way to water after their night feeding. They require large spaces and you will see them feeding on grasses of various length. Both male and female buffaloes have heavy, ridged horns that curve downward and then up. The hollow horns of these African animals are formidable weapons against predators.
You may hear of the Big Five before going on a wildlife Safari, from an old book, or from a nature documentary. Today, they are five of the animals which people most want to see while on Safari. One hundred years ago, amid pith helmets, mosquito boots, and ‘darkest Africa’, the Big Five were the most sought after animals to hunt. They were the fiercest, the most dangerous animals ; the animals that would hunt the hunter.
Most people who go on a safari want to see the Big 5 – but which animals make this up?
They are the Lion, African elephant, Cape buffalo, Leopard, and Rhinoceros.
Explorers of East and Southern Africa went home with stories of lions and leopards in the tall African grass, of rhinos that would charge at the mere smell of a person, of the cape buffalo hidden in the bushes, and of the terrors of an enraged elephant.
“Big 5” is a phrase that was coined by white hunters back in the day, referring to the five most difficult animals in Africa to hunt on foot and the degree of danger involved. The term is still used today by the tourists and the wildlife guides throughout the world. Nowadays most people simply want to get close enough to the Big 5 to be able to photograph them
Members of the Big 5 are as follows:
Lion: Lions really are the kings of the savannah and are at the top of the food chain. As such they need no introduction. Lions are widespread throughout southern and eastern Africa and you’ll have a good chance of seeing them in most safari locations and is by far the most sought out animal on an African Safari. The great thing about lions is that if you find one, you’ll probably see several as they are rarely alone. Your best chance of some action is during the very early morning or late evening when they hunt. During the day, lions can be found lounging in the shade or sleeping under a tree
Black Rhino: Now critically endangered, the black rhino is not actually black, but more off-white. Despite its huge bulk and dangerous reputation, rhinos are herbivores who would much rather graze on some grass than attack a person. There are few rhinos left in the wild due to a large increase in poachers hunting them for their horns.
Cape Buffalo: The African buffalo is a long-horned bovine, widespread throughout safari destinations. Buffalo may not seem like the most exciting animal to come across, but they are regarded as the most dangerous of the Big 5, having caused the most hunter casualties. These extremely powerful animals can charge and knock out or gore their prey with their massive horns. The horns are fused on top of the head in a bone shield called a “boss” which has been known to stop rifle bullets! You’ll mainly observe the buffalo grazing, but keep your distance so you don’t experience “the boss” firsthand!!
Leopard: These felines are nocturnal and secretive, making them probably the most difficult member of the Big 5 to actually spot. This predator tries to get within 5 yards of its prey before pouncing, and that same stealth keeps it hidden from your untrained eye. You might spot one lounging in a tree at sunset, having just eaten its dinner, or relaxing in the shade. They are solitary hunters, unlike the lion, so spotting just one is quite an event.
African Elephant: Your first reaction will be awe and amazement at the beautiful, enormous and seemingly gentle animals. Elephants, as most people know, are large, thick skinned herbivores with long trunks and tusks. You can see them from miles away and each moment that you come across them, you must stop in your tracks to take in their majesty just one last time. Elephants are constantly moving, digging, spraying, growling, drinking and eating. Despite being widespread, elephants face a growing threat from poachers, who hunt them for their ivory.
If you want to see the Big 5 all in one place, a few of the best places to do so are the following: Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe.
So there you have it. The African Big 5- the top of everyone’s African Safari checklist!