Africa is home to more than 1,100 different types of mammals and more than 2,600 types of birds. Many reptiles and insects can be found there, too. These fascinating animals, coupled with scenic views of the African plains, help contribute to the continent’s constantly growing tourism industry. Of the 30 million tourists that visit Africa yearly, 15% travel for pleasure. Meanwhile, half of the tourists that go there for business also engage in sightseeing activities.
When visiting Africa, one should not pass up the opportunity to go on a safari. It is the best way to experience Africa and its wildlife in their natural habitat. Tourists can even get in touch with the locals and learn about their culture. You may check some Instagram wildlife photographs to inspire you to book your next African Safari tour.
Here are the five majestic animals that symbolize safari royalty, commonly referred to as the Big 5.
Despite being a predator, the African leopard is shy, known to spend their daytime hidden and under cover. This big cat can also climb trees, using the height to spot prey and store freshly killed meat away from hyenas and also lions. The African leopard is a very fast, agile creature. It can run at a speed of 56 kilometers per hour, and can even jump over 3 meters making it a formidable hunter.
In Africa, there are two species of rhinocerous: the Ceratotherium simum or white rhino, and the Diceros bicornis or the black rhino. There is no distinction in their color, despite the names. The white rhino’s name comes from a mispronounced Dutch word “wijd”, or “wide” in English. This is because the white rhino’s lips are wide and flat, best for grazing on short grasses. Black rhino, on the other hand, have pointed lips to better reach the leaves on bushes. Both species of rhino are on the brink of extinction due to poaching as there is demand for their horns in some Asian cultures.
With titles like the world’s second largest cat as well as the king of sub-Saharan savanna, you would think it would be very dangerous to search for African lions on your safari trip. It is, but you don’t have to worry because just like the African leopard, lions are more active during nighttime. The African lion is known to sleep up to 20 hours in a day. Also, unlike other cats, lions are social animals and are known to live in a family unit called a pride. In a pride, the lionesses are usually the hunters, and the males are the protectors of their territory. Being social animals makes them more dangerous than other cats.
The African elephant is the world’s heaviest and biggest land animal. It can be seen in the wild in 37 sub-Saharan countries. These big creatures can withstand many of the various habitats of the continent. With an inch-thick skin that acts as armor to sharp thorns, and large ears that regulate body temperature, the African elephant can easily adapt to changes in their surroundings. They have tusks that can be used to fight off predators, and a trunk that can be used to handle objects and hold water.
The Cape buffalo, known for their bad temper and curved, pointy horns, are usually found in areas where water is abundant. This is because they drink water every day and eat grass and bushes which thrive near to water. Despite their reputation, however, buffalos are generally very peaceful with each other. Their bad temper is usually a reaction to a perceived threat. This behavior can be seen when a herd of Cape buffalo is being attacked; the stronger buffalo will circle around and protect the sick or younger ones.
Spotting the Big 5 on an African safari can truly be an awesome experience. So if you’re planning on your next safari trip make sure to find these beautiful animals in their natural homes. Take photographs, savor the moment, and enjoy the real African experience.