Useful Safari Travel Info
In preparation for your Trip to Kenya
INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT THE BIG FIVE AND OTHERS
The big five consists of Lions, Elephants, Leopards, Rhinoceros, and Buffaloes.
African elephants have larger/flatter ears than Asian (Indian) elephants reaching almost 2m in height for an old bull; the ears serve several purposes including that of a cooling system. Bulls can be up to 4m shoulder-height, weigh up to 6000kg and have tusks up to 3m long (20-40kg).
Life cycle includes 22-24 month gestation, newly born calves are almost 1m tall and weigh over 100kg, they are weaned at 2 years. They become adults at 10-12 years and live for 60-70 years. They continue growing in size for much of this time.
Maximum life-time depends on how long their sixth and final set of molar teeth is, usually appearing after 30-35 years. They can be found in families under a “Matriarch” cow. Their weight, power and diet makes them very destructive to their habitat, consuming up to 200kg food and 200 litres of water daily.
Very sociable animals living in prides of 1-3 males and perhaps 15-20 females and young ones. They may have a territory of 50-400kms. The females tend to kill food for the pride. The males are not particularly good hunters, and they insist on eating their share before the females. Hunting occurs at night or cooler times of the day. The hotter hours are spent resting in the shade. Only males grow a mane, which can take up to 5 years to fully develop.
The leopard is an agile and graceful predator. Its build is neither slender nor robust relative to other felines. Although smaller than the other members of Panthera, the leopard is still able to take large prey given a massive skull that well utilizes powerful jaw muscles.Head and body length is between 90 and 190 cm, the tail reaches 60 to 110cm. Shoulder height is 45 to 80 cm.
Males are considerably larger than females and weigh 37 to 90 kg compared to 28 to 60 kg for females.
Although it is common for a leopard to be mistaken for a cheetah due to their spots, they can actually be easily distinguished. The leopard has a heavier, stockier body and has a larger head in proportion to its body, and has rosettes rather than dots. Leopards also lack the black “tear-streak” markings that run from the inner corners of the cheetah’s eyes to the corners of its mouth. Additionally, cheetahs run much faster than leopards do and generally do not climb trees, whereas leopards are excellent climbers. Also, leopards are more active at night searching for their prey nocturnal, whereas cheetahs are usually diurnal. Leopards have been reported to reach 21 years of age in captivity.
Full name is “Cape” or “African” Buffalo. They are usually found near water and can have non-hierarchical herds of up to 2,000 Buffalo. They are often seen bearing Oxpecker birds which remove blood-sucking insects from their hide. The most dangerous ones are old solitary bulls or females protecting their calves. Bulls (which have unusually broad large horns up to 1.5m across) measure up to 2.5m in length and weigh up to 800kg.
The Black and White Rhinoceros are both really greyish in colour (the White Rhino being named from the Afrikaans word wijd describing its wide mouth). The relatively dangerous Black Rhino (often found browsing in bushland) have a smaller head and narrower mouth compared to the relatively placid White Rhino (often found grazing in grassland) which have a larger head and wider mouth.
Rhinoceros have a gestation period of 15 months, with one calf per litter which is weaned after one year, mature after 5-7 years and can live for 40 years if not killed by their main predator (man). Rhinoceros can measure over 3m in length and weigh up to 1500kg, but despite their weight,they can reach speeds of 40kph when charging. They have two horns made of matted hair/gristle but these are sometimes removed to reduce the threat of poaching; the front horn can reach 1m in length.