Big 5, Kruger National Park
The Big Five animals refer to the most difficult animals to hunt in Africa, a term that was invented years ago when hunting in Africa by Europeans was in vogue. Today, spotting the Big Five is the quest of anyone on a safari. The five animals are the lion, leopard, buffalo, rhino, and elephant. I was fortunate enough on my safari to see all five, but I didn't achieve this until the very last safari ride we did. Altogether, we spent 3 days, with two rides on each day. The easiest to spot among the Big Five is usually the elephant, and the hardest is the leopard, followed by the lion. See the attached photos... and for more, take a look at the travelogue: "The Big Five."
This may not be easy, surely at K.N.P. it is not difficult. The big five are --
We saw all of them at one go in when we went on a Guided Sunset Game Drive. We also spotted the Big 3 so many times during our drives there, but the big cats we got to see only once. We just missed sighting a leopard twice!! But nevertheless it is so exciting to spot, photograph/video graph the animals and try to understand their habits and habitats.
The African Elephant is easily distinguished from Asian Elephants as they have larger ears. The fact that you are in Africa is also a give away. They guys are massive. They are the largest land animal in the world, eat 300 pounds (136 kilograms) of food a day and drink 30-50 gallons (113-189 litres) of water. Females are pregnant for 22 months! They roam around constantly looking for food and are amazingly clumsy. I watched them happily knocking down trees when they could have easily avoided them. Because of the damage they do, they are sometimes culled here in Kruger.
If you are driving yourself here in Kruger, do not get too close. In fact move away slowly with your car. In addition to accidentally knocking down trees they can knock into your vehicle and damage will definitely occur. Worse case scenario is that a bull may just decide to destroy you car and they would probably have fun doing it. Even ‘small’ cut ones can inflict damage and I have been charged by an angry mother elephant. With their huge size you can still get great pictures at a respectable distance.
The Big Five are the lion, leopard, rhino, elephant, and cape buffalo. They were named the Big Five not because of their size alone, but because they were the most challenging of South Africa's large animal species to hunt. Tourists who come to Kruger tend to get fixated on the Big Five, often to the point of missing out on sightings of other, smaller, but still interesting species, such as impala, warthogs, and birds.
Of the Big Five, leopards are by far the hardest to find, becasue they are nocturnal and are usually sleeping during the day, often up in trees. Lions are the second-hardest to find. Usually the easiest way to find the Big Five in Kruger is to look for stopped cars. Where two or more cars are stopped, there is usually a Big Five animal nearby that they are all watching.
We saw three (elephant, rhino, and cape vuffalo) of the Big Five during our drives through Kruger. We saw a leopard in Sabi Sand, a private game reserve next to Kruger, where we went on an evening game drive.
5 day 4 night Tour
Upon arrival at OR Tambo International Airport, you will collect your hire car (Toyota Corolla or similar) and begin your Safari.
Your first stop will be Stonecutter’s Lodge just outside the picturesque town of Dullstroom.
Stonecutters Lodge is a trout fishing and holiday venue of exceptional quality. Travel to the Mpumalanga Highlands, just two and a half hours from Johannesburg International Airport, and stay in this 4 star-graded lodge. The lodge lies between Dullstroom and Lydenburg, in the heart of South Africa's fly and trout fishing territory. A superb chef provides guests with meals of outstanding quality....
Click the website link to view the full itinerary as its to long to post.
Elephants can drink quite a lot of water in one sitting, as much as 7.5 litres can be sucked in at any one time.
It then proceeds to curl its trunk under, sticking the tip of its trunk in its mouth, and blows the water in.
Elephants have various uses for their trunks, eating being one, and pulling down trees being another... but another rather important one is to keep itself cool! Elephants live in hot climates generally, the KNP is a very hot climate certain times of the year, and they squirt cool water over themselves to keep cool in the blazing heat. After that, they squirt a fine layer of dust over themselves... which, when combined with the water, makes a thin type of mud layer... their sunscreen :)
They also use their trunks as snorkels when they wade in deep water. They are incredibly good swimmers, something which I dont think many folk realise :)
The trumpeting elephant is an elephant that is feeling threatened. If you are close by, make haste to get away from it. Their trunks will most likely be in a type of periscope position at this time.
They are social creatures, with closely knit family groups. They hug each other by wrapping their trunks around one another, they also nudge their young gently with their trunk too, and, as a young child does, a baby elephant (calf) sucks on its trunk too.
If you are in the KNP, there is a good chance you will see buffalo, although mostly at night, or at dusk. They stand around in large herds, either as families, or as old bulls who have banded together.
This herd were lazily grazing, then suddenly something, not quite sure what, gave them a fright and the next minute, all you could see was a cloud of thick dust... then they were gone.
Buffalos fall into the BIG 5 category with ease, they are large, lumbering and have a certain reputation. They have thick horns, popular with hunters unfortunately. They are gregarious and are generally quite fearless as they are safe to a certain degree from lions. The only buffalo a single lion will catch with ease is a baby buffalo.
It takes a herd of lions to get one mighty big buffalo down. Often the chasers became the chased though haha, when buffalos turn on the lions and start chasing them
Elephants and trees...the one loves the other, but not so for the other! haha Elephants are prolific in their destruction of trees, they pull them down and eat the vegetation off of them, with scant regard for the destructive manner in which they do so. It makes tracking them VERY easy, you just need to look for torn roots and shoots to know where they have passed by.
The trunk may look clumsy but it is anything but! It has two little finger-type things at the end of its trun which act like fingers, and are quite nimble. This enables the trunk to pick up a small berry off the ground, or clasp a thin leaf in its trunk.
Pretty amazing :)
The KNP elephant is NOT an animal to be messed with or taken lightly! It weighs easily in the average of 6 tons when fully grown, and is easily riled when frightened!
It has unfortunately beein hunted for many years for its ivory. They are also quite destructive, leaving a pathway of despair when they trundle through the bush!
Hunting is banned in the KNP but there are still some poachers that get through and manage to make a kill :(
Another impressive one of the Big 5 and there are large herds around the Kruger National Park - a few that consist of almost 100 animals. Found generaly close to the water particular around the Lower Sabie region where I have seen them almost on every visit.
The King of the African bush and I am excited everytime I get close to a pride of lion. During the day time lions normally rest and at dusk start roaming around for a hunt. Lionesses normally do the hunting and the males then have the first go when 'dining'.
This nocturnal and solitaire cat is at times a bit difficult to track, though on my last visits to the Park and also the neighbouring private reserves I have almost all the time been able to track down leopard.
If you look for them also look in the trees - since that is where they are most of the times during the day time. Their home is normally dense bush or also rocky outcrops.