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Big five 200832749

Big five 200832749

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Published by: moruri_nc3184 on Jun 04, 2010
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Wildlife animals,
The "Big Five
": Elephant, Leopard, Lion, Buffaloand Rhinoceros
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http://www.places.co.za/html/famousbig5.htmlreservations@parks-sa.co.zaOriginally used only by hunters, the term 'Big Five' refers to five of Africa'sgreatest wild animals - lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo and rhino. As duringthe bygone hunting era the term "Big Five" still conjure up the romance andexcitement of Africa's exotic destinations and experiences. Imagine watchingthe sun set over the horizon whilst you capture the moment of a tribe of lionsstalking their prey. Watching a buffalo stolling to a water hole with strengthand size that makes it more likely to kill a human than any other mammal.The rhino, which is almost extinct, with its extraordinary horns and badtemper. And the leopard with its beauty and remarkable speed and skill tohunt.Many travellers regard a visit to South Africa as incomplete without havingspotted, and perhaps photographed, the Big Five. The Big Five - legends of the wilderness which have become synonymous with Africa.
The elephantHabitat
: Elephants are always associated withpermanent water and abundant vegetation (anexception to this is the unique desert elephantfrom Namibia, who adapted to survive in theharsh conditions of the area). Becauseelephants do not have sweat glands, waterplays an important roll in helping them cooldown.
: Elephants are very intelligent andhighly social animals. They live in herds, made up of the matriarch (theoldest animal in the group), her female calves and the youngsters. The herdcan comprise between 6 and 30 animals, after what they split to form newherds, always maintaining contact with each other at water holes and feedingspots. At 14 years of age, males leave the heard and associate with otherbulls of the same age or older. Within the "bull area" hierarchy is wellobserved and understood by all bulls; if a group of bulls come across a cowin oestrus, the animal occupying the highest rank is the one to mate. Malesare much larger than females and their tusks are much longer and heavier.Elephants have 6 sets of molar teeth; when the last set is lost, the animal isunable to feed and eventually dies. Their life span is about 50 to 60 years.
: Elephant eat practically any vegetable matter. Leaves, grass, reeds,roots, flowers, fruits, bark and even soil if the mineral content is high. Theyeat about 250 kg of food and drink about 150 to 200 liters of water a day.
: Females are sexually mature at 12 years of age and are mated byvisiting bulls. After a gestation period of 22 months, the cow gives birth to asingle calf that weighs up to 130 kg. The calf suckles for about 3 years.
The leopardHabitat
: Leopards are more commonly foundalong riverine forests and bushes. Although lesscommon, they also can be found along openplains and savanna, mainly in hills and rockyoutcrops.
: Leopards normally hunt at night and dusk, staying in secluded spotsduring the day or lying in high branches of trees. They are solitary animalsby nature, only associating with a female for mating and staying with heronly for a couple of days. Leopards are masters of camouflage and theymove silently through the vegetation to attack their prey at very closequarters. The victim is normally killed with a bite on the back of the neck,and then taken up a tree, where the leopard will feed at leisure, away fromscavengers. Leopards are extremely territorial animals. Their life span isabout 15 years, and they can attain a mass of about 70-kg.
: Leopards are the most successful hunters of the cat family. Their preyincludes Impala, Bushbuck, Warthog and also the young of Wildebeest, Kuduand Waterbuck. Rodents, ground birds, monkeys, baboons, frogs and fish,also make part of its diet.
: The female gives birth to one to three cubs after a gestationperiod of about 105 days. The cubs are kept in secluded spots, like thicketsand rocky crevices. They are much darker than adults. Female Leopards arevery dedicated mothers leaving their cubs only when hunting.

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