The Big Five, What Does It All Mean?
Also, the Little Five, the Super Two, the Shy Five and the Ugly Five.
Any game ranger worth their salt aught to be able to give valuable insight into the wonderful animal kingdom of Africa , from the ground up, big or small and maybe weave a tale or two. Africa is alive with storytelling about animals.
The Big Five:
This phrase originally comes from a hunting term used by big game hunters referring to a group of African wildlife that were the most difficult to hunt on foot namely the Elephant, Rhino, Buffalo, Lion, and Leopard.
They are not the biggest or the rarest; they were defined in this way because they put up the biggest fight. Trophy hunters around the world were revered if they had the stuffed or skinned remains of these beautiful creatures in their homes. Hopefully, these mind-sets will pass and be replaced by reverence and knowledge, so that anyone going on safari in Africa can truly appreciate life in all its forms.
These five animals are magnificent, no question, but then so are other large animals, the Giraffe, Hippo and the Whale. Recently a variety of animals have been grouped together to introduce the incredible diversity of wildlife in Africa that exists and help tourists to see a bigger picture.
The Super Two:
Worthy of notice and indeed very special, are the Wild or Painted Dog and the Cheetah.
The Wild Dog population in Africa has dwindled down to a small number scattered over a few countries in Africa , these highly sociable animals are one of the most endangered mammals on the continent.
The Cheetah is the fastest land mammal reaching 105km (65 miles) per hour. Being the fastest is no guarantee of successful hunting. The Cheetah often loses its kill to other bolder animals who steal it away. Its beautiful feline grace is a delight to behold
The Little Five:
With big sounding names they draw reference to the Big Five animals; these small creatures are nonetheless fascinating in their way.
The Elephant Shrew, shrews are reported to be the most successful of all ground-dwelling mammals called insectivores.
The Rhino Beetle is one of the largest in the world, its huge horns are handy tools and also useful in the mating game; both sexes have these large spikes.
The Ant Lion larva digs itself into a well prepared conical depression in soft earth with its head exposed at the bottom, any ants wondering in fall into these jaws of death!
The Buffalo Weaver, resembling a large sparrow, is most common in East Africa and nests in open, loose colonies.
The Leopard Tortoise is the biggest turtle in Africa reaching up to 2 feet long; they dont mate until between the age of 12-15 years and the eggs take a year to hatch.
The Shy Five:
From the Meerkat Man of Meerkat Magic fame comes the term The Shy Five, with reference to a collection of creatures found in the Little Karoo of South Africa.
The Meerkat is a highly sociable animal with altruistic qualities; they live in underground burrows in large colonies and have risen to fame due to fascinating films about them.
The Bat Eared Fox is an endangered, partly nocturnal creature with large ears which are used to detect invertebrates moving underground,
they dig frantically to unearth the meal!
The Aardvark is a nocturnal and solitary creature, their eyesight is poor but they have excellent hearing and sense of smell, their claws are huge and good for defence.
The Porcupine is unlike any other creature with its incredible quills, its most important defence system; it is mostly nocturnal but can be seen sun bathing outside its shelter.
The Aardwolf is rather like a small brown hyena, it is slow moving, nocturnal and loves termites, sadly, many are hit my cars on our roads every year.
The Ugly Five:
These creatures arent the best looking! Apart from the Wildebeest and Warthog, their feeding habits (often on carrion) also seem unpleasant!
The Hyena, the Spotted Hyena has extremely powerful jaws and is more aggressive than the Brown Hyena which is less common (more of a nocturnal scavenger).
The Vulture is a scavenging bird, feeding off the carcasses of other animals.
The Wildebeest is also known as a Gnu, these animals are the main feature of mass migrations in Africa in search of seasonal grasses.
The Warthog has characteristic facial warts and tusks and is often seen running with its tail in the air, they love a mud bath to keep cool and repel insects.
The Marabou Stork is often called the Undertaker; it scavenges for food, even around waste tips and is extremely large and powerful.
Sumber : Savuti Safari Africa