On the hunt for the Big Five in South Africa

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Going to South Africa is hoping to see the Big Five. Some can be found easily and others are hard to see.The Buffalo, The Elephant, The Rhinoceros, The leopard and the Lion are part of the Big Five wildlife.

The Big Five has a special meaning for the South Africa population. Obviasely everybody what to see the Big Five in real life, but for a lot of South Afica population this is not possible. But they see the Big Five every day. The currency Rand has the Big Five printed on it.
The Rhinoceros is printed on the 10 Rand bill. The Elephant is printed on the 20 Rand, the Lion on the 50 Rand, the Buffalo on the 100 Rand and the Leopard on the 200 Rand bill. Since we haven't seen the 200 Rand bill, we asked which animal was on the bill. They said it was the leopard. Hardly seen in the wild and the bill is hardly seen as well.

The Buffalo

The Buffalo is the least popular animal of the Big Five. Buffalos gaze in the presents of water. And they live in herds. The buffalo is a beautiful animal to see. The horns are the unique feature of the buffalo. It took a while to see our first buffalo. And the first we saw was a big herd from a far distance. But the last buffalo we saw was just of the road. The buffalo stuck it's head through the vegetation when we were passing by.

The elephant

The only species of elephants living in South Africa are the African elephants. They can be distinguished from the Asian elephant by their bigger ears. The ears of the African elephant are used for ventilation and the spreading of odor. The male elephant leaves urine and sweat behind for territory marking. Elephants live in close herds and feed of tree barks. Elephants are big and can be spotted from a large distance. The elephant is the largest land animal on the planet.
We saw our first animals during a game drive in Kruger National Park (see travelogue Gomo Gomo Game Lodge). We saw them so close we could almost touch them. But there is no way you'll actually do it. In Kruger and in Addo Elephant National Park we have seen many different elephants. And since the elephant is feeding about 200 kg per day, you will probably see them when they are eating.

The leopard

The leopard is the hardest animal to find in the wild. It is only active after sunset and lives mostly in trees. Also the leopard is shy and therefore hard to see. The leopard lives solitary and hunts small prey. Impalas are a popular killing for the leopard. The prey is easy to kill. After the kill it is not a treat anymore for the solitary leopard.
We made some people up sad by telling we saw a leopard on the first day in Kruger National Park. The first animals we saw during a game drive were two leopards about 15-20 meters from our truck. Later on in the trip we say another leopard under a tree and far away. But why where the people up sad? We spoke to a couple of South Africans who spend more than 20 years to see their first leopard. And they would go to Kruger at least once a year. When we said we had seen one up close they were a bit jealous. Never the less the South Africans admired the pictures and where glad for us we saw one.

The Lion

The lion is the king of the wildlife. The lion lives in groups where the females are the leaders. Lions hunt in groups of 4-5 lionesses. They kill easily a giraffe, zebra, wildebeest or a kudu. The lion has the first bite after the lionesses killed the animal. When the lion is finished the lioness and the cups are allowed to eat. If they aren't able to finish the killing one of the lions will stay behind to protect the killing against scavengers. The group will return after a while for another feeding. A lion will sleep or do nothing for about 20 hours a day. They will only do something then they are hungry or thirsty. Lions will only attact a human when it is hungry or feeling threatened.
The lion was the second animal of the big five wildlife we saw. We saw a group of 20 lions up close. (See the travelogue of the Gomo Gomo Game lodge). In Kruger National Park we saw a group of lions eating a giraffe. The lion is a special animal to see.

The Rhinoceros or Rhino

The Rhino is one of the largest land animals on the planet. Only the elephant is bigger than the rhinoceros. Two species of rhinoceroses are living in South Africa. The white rhinoceros lives only in Kruger National Park. The black rhinoceros can be found in all parts of South Africa. The rhinoceros is a selective feeder. It will only eat grass. The rhinoceros lives solitary in a small territory. In his territory is always water present.
A rhinoceros can be recognized at the two horns on his head. The white rhinoceros has a lighter color than the black rhinoceros and has a wide mouth. A full grown rhinoceros has no wildlife enemies. Only the human is a treat to the rhinoceros by the interest of the horns on its head.
The rhinoceros wasn't easy to find. Only on the last day in Kruger National park we say our first rhinoceros. And we say it directly up close. In Saint Lucia we saw another rhinoceros, a bit farther away. We haven't seen the black rhinoceros in South Africa.

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