Roar Africa

Exploring Africa Since 1688

Sunday, June 15, 2008

The Big Five? Big Seven? Little Five? Big Six Birds?

What is all this confusion? It used to be about The Big Five. However, when you are on safari you will find that it's not really about the Big Five. In Kruger National Park there are approximately 140 species of mammals, over 500 species of birds and 2,000 species of plants. In the most biodiverse park on earth every moment is a wildlife experience that is going to overwhelm all your senses by day and night. It is intoxicating.

To promote the dazzling diversity of wildlife in Southern Africa some people have come up with The Big Seven, The Little Five, and The Big Six Birds. Here they are, The Big Five first:

The Big Five

Coined by big-game hunters of a bygone era, “Big Five Game” refers to the five most difficult mammals to hunt on foot (in order below). These days, Big 5 usually refers to the South African animals that visitors most often want to photograph.
1. Cape Buffalo or African Buffalo
2. Leopard
3. Lion
4. African Forest Elephant and African Bush Elephant
5. Black Rhinoceros and White Rhinoceros

The Big Seven is the Big Five plus Whales and Great White Sharks.

The Little Five

South Africa’s lesser known “Little Five” animals include mammals, reptiles, insects and birds and are namesakes of the dangerous Big Five.

1. Buffalo Weaver. Buffalo Weavers are social weavers that nest in open loose colonies. Their nests are messy thorn structures with side entrances facing different directions.
2. Leopard Tortoise. The leopard tortoise is approximately 2 feet long which is the biggest turtle in Africa. It weighs 50 to 100 lbs. Its name comes from the color of its shell.
3. Ant Lion. The antlion larva digs its pits in dry, sunny spots sheltered from wind and rain. When ants fall into the funnel-shaped crater they can't climb out. The antlion waits buried at the bottom so that only the head, with opened jaws, can be seen, and there it waits for its prey.
4. Elephant Shrew. This tiny insectivore lives in arid lowlands, rocky outcrops and savannah grasslands, getting its name from its elongated snout. Elephant shrews are found all over South Africa, and only grow to a length of 250mm, with an average weight of 60g. They feed on insects, fruit, seeds and nuts.
5. Rhinoceros Beetle. The Rhino Beetle is among the largest beetles in Southern Africa growing to between 1 and 2 ½ inches in length. Both males and females have horns like those of their larger namesake. The males are known for aggressive behaviour, using the horns to fight rivals. The horns are also used to dig, climb and mate.

The Big Six Birds

Birders will be dazzled by the colourful array of bird species. Mirroring the Big 5 list of mammals, the Big Six Birds is a subjective list of bird species visitors most want to see. This is the Kruger Park Big Six list. They are not only desirable to see but also relatively easy to identify. Five of the six are seen relatively easily. The exception is the Pel’s Fishing Owl which is seldom seen, because of its nocturnal habits and restriction to large watercourses.

1. Lappet-faced Vulture. The Lappet-faced Vulture or Nubian Vulture is a mostly African Old World vulture belonging to the bird order Accipitriformes. It is not the prettiest bird you’ll see on safari.
2. Saddle-billed Stork. This is a huge bird that regularly attains a height of 150 cm (5 feet) and a 270cm (9 feet) wingspan. The male is larger and heavier than the female, with a range of 5.1-7.5 kg. It is probably the tallest, if not the heaviest, of the storks.
3. Martial Eagle It is a very large eagle, with a length of 76-90 cm (30-36 in), an average weight of 5.2 kg (11.6 lbs) and a wingspan of 190-260 cm (6.25-8.5 ft).
4. Pels Fishing Owl. A very large (length about 63cm) reddish brown owl with no ears, dark eyes and bare legs. Here is some footage of this rarely seen bird.
5. Kori Bustard. The Kori Bustard may be the heaviest bird capable of flight although this title may also belong to the similarly-dimensioned Great Bustard.
6. Southern Ground Hornbill. It is a large bird, at 90 to 129 cm (36 to 51 in) long and a weight of 3.2 to 6.2 kg (7 to 13.6 lbs). They have a distinct and impressive call. The neck wattles can be inflated and are used to make booming or grunting sounds, often just before dawn. The call can be called "lion-like”, whereas their cousins' the Abyssinian Ground-Hornbill sounds like the grunt of a leopard.

Don't forget to pack your binoculars!

Labels: , ,


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home

This site and its content © Copyright 2009. Photos used with permission. Read more in the ROAR AFRICA Payment and Cancellation Policies.
Site designed and implemented by Engage Brandcraft CC. To report any problems with this site please contact