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I Dream Africa

I Dream Africa

Big 5


The Magestic and sociable lion

The lion is the largest of Africa’s 10 cat species. Individuals living together form a pride, thus making them the most sociable of their kind, meaning they both hunt and feed together.

Lions are opportunistic hunters and keep a sharp lookout for young, sick or injured animals. The females are the main hunters with their tawny coats providing excellent camouflage in the African bushveld. The males will, on occasion, help to bring down larger prey such as buffalo and will be tasked to provide the deathblow.

He is also the first one to feed after a kill, and can eat as much as 25% of his own body weight. The lionesses feed next, and the cubs last. They will eat fairly peaceful if food is plentiful, but violent confrontations usually take place when food is scarce. During daytime, when all is tranquil, the pride renews the bonds that might have been undone by the previous nights feeding. Mutual grooming is particularly effective in promoting relationships between members of the pride, and in this regard, the lion’s rough tongue is an effective tool.

As lions are very territorial, the females rarely move from their domain. They can produce cubs every second year. And although males appear fearsome and dominant, they can be very tolerant towards the playful cubs.

The Mighty Elephant

The mighty elephant, not just known for its size, but for its fiercely protective nature.

With its distinguishing features, the elephant is the largest land mammal in the World. They live in small groups of 10 to 20 family members , assembling with other families at communal waterholes – forming larger herds.
Male bulls will only join a herd during mating season and will otherwise live alone or in small bachelor groups.

Elephants reside in diverse habitats. These include the National Parks Parks in the Caprivi Region such as the Bwabwata, Mahangu, and Mudumu National Parks as well as the Namib Coastal region at the Ugab area and within Etosha National Park.

The elephant uses its trunk like a pair of hands, picking fruits from a tree, bathing in water or to greet each other by intertwining their trunks and putting them into one another’s mouths. Raising its long trunk, like a periscope, elephants can taste the passing breeze for any smells of food or danger. And although burdened with very poor eyesight they have developed an acute sense of hearing. Their huge ears also act like fans cooling down their bulky frames.

Elephants love water, and when they come upon it, be it every day or third or fourth, they will take their time to bathe and wallow. An adult bull can consume up to 200 liters of water a day. Elephants are gregarious by nature and gather together to both feed and drink.

The bond between mother and her offspring is very strong. A calf suckles from his mother for two to three years, and should she die during this time for any reason, another nursing female will adopt the young calf as her own.

Elephants communicate with each other through a series of deep rumbling sounds, but they can trumpet loudly when angry. If they are uneasy, and in spite of their size, a herd of elephants can become as quiet as one by using ultrasound, a secret message between them, to communicate.

Elephants are active in the day and at night, but usually rest in the shade during the heat of the afternoon. Herds often move in single file, especially at night and can cover vast distances. Their giant footprints wearing down paths across the African landscape.

The Armored Rhino

These unusual grassland-loving mammals play a distinct ecological role, but have been ruthlessly hunted by man over the years for their impressive horns.

The white rhino is a grazer and is more common with its wider lip. As a result of successful conservation initiatives, the white rhino has staged a remarkable recovery, with about 12,000 individuals now left in the wild.

The black rhino has a prehensile upper lip that it uses to browse (pick off leaves) from low-growing plants. The black rhino remains an endangered species with only about 3,000 individuals left in the wild. With both species feeding in different ways, it is possible for them to co-exist within an area.

A rhino can reach speeds of 30 miles an hour, and contrary to popular belief, can turn on a dime. Built like a tank, their thick hides act as armor and the horns make a formidable defence, especially if a trespassing bull enters a dominant bull’s territory. Rhinos have an excellent sense of hearing and smell and also rely on birds, like the ever-present red-billed Ox-pecker, to warn it of any approaching danger.

During the summer months, a rhino will wallow in mud, not only to assist in regulating body temperature, but also to help rid itself of parasites.

The rhino also employs birds such as the Pied Crow to assist in ridding the animal of ticks and parasites. White rhino move in small groups, numbering between two and five. The black rhino is more solitary and shy but when alarmed, it can exhibit considerable hostility. They will charge if they sense a threat, which occurs frequently due to their very poor eyesight.

Although not particularly sociable, the bond between mother and her offspring is very strong, and she will aggressively defend her young against danger.

The Hefty Buffalo

The hefty Buffalo, alone a hot-tempered beast, yet docile and calm within a herd.

The African buffalo is one of the most successful grazers in Africa. It lives in swamps, floodplains as well as Mopane grasslands and forests of the major mountains in Africa.

Buffalo prefer environments with dense cover such as reeds and thickets. They require water daily and therefore depend on perennial sources of water. Male bulls wallow far more frequently than female cows, and eagerly cover as much of their bodies with mud as possible, including their faces and horns in an attempt to keep their body temperature low.

They are also tolerant hosts for the red-billed Ox-pecker that keeps the hide of the animal free of parasites and ticks. These birds also serve as an early warning system for the animal. The coating of mud that the animals rubs off against trees or boulders also helps in removing parasites, as well as protection against the harsh African sun.

Buffalo are seasonal breeders and calves are born during the summer months. The buffalo is probably the most misunderstood of the big 5, with a reputation for being bad tempered and very dangerous. This is true of lone and wounded animals, but a herd, sometimes numbering several thousands during the dry season, is normally quite placid. The tendency to stampede en masse when alarmed is an aspect that makes a herd a force to be reckoned with.

The Stealthy and solitary leopard

The leopard is a very powerful, sleek and highly elusive animal. It has a formidable reputation as an expert hunter, although slightly smaller than its cousin, the lion. Its solitary nature means that he is at ease with being completely self-sufficient.

The spots and rosettes on his orange-brown coat blends in with his surroundings by breaking the outline of his body. The leopard’s exceptional sense of sight and hearing, together with its cunning hunting skills, allows him to boldly hunt prey twice its weight.

However, this independent animal, if challenged by another predator for its kill, will timidly and quietly take refuge up a tree. You are very fortunate if you see a leopard in the company of its own kind. This only happens during mating season and when a female is accompanied by her cubs.

Up until the age of 3 months, the female leaves the cubs behind when she goes hunting. It is in their own interest to keep themselves quiet and concealed, as they may attract attention from predators.

From 3 to 9 months, they may accompany her and an 11 month old leopard will be sufficiently trained to kill an impala. A mother usually summons her cubs with abrupt purring sounds and they have a range of contact calls.

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