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ANIMALS OF TANZANIA | THE BIG FIVE.
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• Family – Elephantidae
• Mass 6000 – 7000 kg / 13000 – 15000 lbs
• Height 300 – 340 cm / 118 – 134 inches
• Walking speed 10 km/h / 6.2 mph
• Charging speed 40 km/h / 24.8 mph
• Potential longevity 65 – 70 years
• Gestation period 22 months
• Record length of tusks 3,5 m / 137 inches
The African elephant is the largest land mammal. They’re a matriarchal bunch, with an older cow leading the herd. Herds are usually family groups of up to 16. Several family groups may join when at watering sites forming large herds numbering several hundred. Their tusks are basically modified incisor teeth, used as weapons and to help acquire certain food, like the bark of trees. Their long trunks can hold up to 15 litres of water and is used to locate food by touch and smell, as an elephant cannot see down its trunk. If an elephant loses the use of its trunk it will die.
• Family Felidae
• Mass ± 200 kg / ± 440 lbs
• Height ± 100 cm / ± 39 inches
• Walking speed 4 km/h / 2.4 mph
• Charging speed 80 km/h / 50 mph
• Potential longevity 20 years
• Gestation period 3.5 months
The African Lion (Penthera leo) is the largest and most impressive of Africa’s big cats and the second largest big cat in the world after the Tiger, which is found in Asia. Lions are significantly more gregarious than any of the other wild cats and form cohesive groups called prides. The cooperative nature of the pride allows for greater success at hunting and raising young. An apex predator; the lion hunts primarily at night and it is the agile females who do most of the hunting, feminism in the wild? While on a game drive in Africa you are most likely to see lions sleeping away the day, although in private game reserves it is possible to go on night game drives increasing your chances of seeing lions in action. Personally I quite like to see them chilling out, they are a lot less scary that way.
• Family Rhinocerotidae
• Mass 3500 kg / 7717 lbs
• Height 160 cm / 63 inches
• Speed 45 km/h / 28 mph
• Potential longevity 45 years
• Gestation period 18 months
• Record length of front horn 158 cm / 62 inches
• Record length of rear horn 56 cm / 22 inches
The herbivorous white rhino has a wide mouth perfectly adapted to a life of grazing. Its thick set body is covered by a tough leathery skin. The most distinctive feature of the rhino is the presence of 2 horns on the snout. These horns are composed of a protein which is similar to that of our own hair. Family groups of 2 – 5 individuals are protected by a dominant bull who defends his cows against other intruding bulls. A number of fixed latrine sites known as rhino middens demarcate a bull’s territory. The smaller black rhino has a hooked lip.
The black rhino is one of Africa's Big Five
• Family Felidae
• Mass ± 60 kg / 132 lbs
• Height ± 60 cm / 23 inches
• Charging speed 80 km/h / 50mph
• Potential longevity 21 years
• Gestation period 3 1/2 months
Stealthy, agile and a devastating hunter, the most widely distributed of Africa’s big cats is also the most seldom seen. Elusive and solitary it is only at certain private game reserves in the Greater Kruger National Park where Leopards are regularly seen and habituated to the presence of man. But wherever you might be on safari you can count yourself lucky if you get to see one of these magnificent animals in the wild.
• Family Bovidae
• Mass 750 kg / 1653 lbs
• Height ± 160 cm / 63 inches
• Charging speed 55 km/h / 34 mph
• Potential longevity 20 – 25 years
• Gestation period 11 months
• Record span of horns 147 cm / 58 inches
Buffalo are large, cattle like animals. Once widely distributed in Southern Africa, the buffalo’s numbers have been greatly reduced by large-scale hunting and sickness such as Rinderpest and foot and mouth disease. Now restricted to the eastern regions of South Africa, they are abundant in the Kruger Park and are frequently seen wallowing in muddy pools or grazing in the vicinity of dams in the reserve.
The buffalo is highly gregarious and usually occurs in large herds, with the largest herd estimated to be in the region of 400. Bachelor groups and single animals are also often encountered. A dominance hierarchy occurs within buffalo herds. Although a favourite prey item of the lions, the large horns and powerful muscles of the buffalo make it a formidable adversary and it is frequently the lions who come off second best in such encounters.
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