Big 5, Kruger National Park
I'd say the most elegant creatures of Africa and a very close relative of the camel (their mannerisms are the big giveaway). Witnessed two male giraffes having a punch up - not as entertaining as it sounds considering it's a head swinging session. Actually a sizing up of relative strengths, it's a way of avoiding serous injury between animals - if one animal realises it's bitten off more than it can chew, it soon backs off.
If there's any Americans out there, contrary to popular American opinion (in some parts), giraffes don't lay eggs in nests in trees...
...you Americans can blame a woman Maths teacher for that observation (and bringing shame on your nation), who in the words of the local guides asked the dumbest question they were ever asked (credit to Pieter for that one). The Americans (in general) are credited with asking guides the dumbest questions of any nationality. The Germans apparently do their fair share too...
The big guns of the African plains, with a lifespan to match most humans. The matriarch (top female) here is being very protective of the elephant calves. Easily understandable when you consider than contrary to popular belief, lions DO tackle, kill and eat elephants. In Namibia, prides of up to forty lions have been observed to bring down elephants not part of a herd.
These lads and lasses eat anything that move, even elephants, rhinoceros and hippopotami if they are in big enough prides.
The males are also the ultimate posers, leaving most of the work (including the hunting) to the females (though they will take prey by themselves if they get the chance) and just strolling around their territories, marking their patch and announcing their presence to the females and challengers VERY LOUDLY (boy they roar). All you need are a few beers and you've Newcastle-upon-Tyne on a weekend.
In the top picture, the lionesses were getting very touchy due to the nearby presence of a pair of jackal (tried to photo but pictures didn't come out), which given the opportunity would snatch at least some of the meal from the lions.
Did you know that a lion is actually a type of panther (Panthera Leo) along with the leopard - surprising considering that lions are pack hunters and leopards are largely solitary. Cats are classified into three separate groups - along with the Panther family (Panthera), there's Felis (into which the domestic cat, the caracal and the African Wildcat go) and Acinonyx (of which the cheetah is a member). Lions and Cheetahs used to be far more widespread and until man played his as normal negative part, they were common not only in Africa, but also over large parts of India and Central Asia (Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and surrounding countries). Outside Africa, only a small population of Asiatic Lions remain in the Gir Forest in southern India and 60 or so cheetah remain in part of Iran. The fossil record shows that they also lived in North America up until the end of the last Ice Age.
Another surprising fact is that despite their more dog-like appearance and behaviour, hyenas are actually more closely related to cats than any other type of carnivore. I as well as the guides had opted for dogs being the nearest relative - just goes to show you that appearances can be deceptive.
I didn't see any leopards, cheetahs or hyenas - they wouldn't come out to pose for photos.
The temperamental teenager is not just a human problem and this elephant (top) thought it was a fun idea to keep charging a range rover / jeep full of tourists, then stopping just short before repeating again and again. I was a little concerned when I first saw it, however, the guides said (as with many teenage tantrums) "Just ignore him, that's what we do."
To cut a long story short, he'll eventually get bored when he realises it has no effect and will stop playing his little game. One comment about it was "If you react, you'll just encourage him - he'll do it all the more and then we might have to destroy him before him or someone else gets hurt."
It was pure luck that the Greater Kudu at least momentarily posed for the second photo - they're fairly nervous about anything out of the ordinary (due to their very understandable fear of predators) as was proved later around the watering holes in Mkuzi.
The most common primate of the African savannah and what has to be considered the most intelligent mammal there. These animals live in quite sizeable troupes, which makes the average predator (including lions) think twice about tackling thirty of them at once.
The Impala are a different matter - little changed over millions of years, it's their numbers which make them successful. The markings on their backside look like a big 'M'. Yes, as the 'M' might suggest, they are the McDonalds of the bush and just about every predator eats them.
A very common small primate of the African bush, especially along river banks that lives in family groups, with a varied diet including things like fruit, berries, nuts and the occasional small bird or insect...
...let's rephrase that.
A very common small primate that lives around African National Park campsites and lives in family groups, with a varied diet including the contents of rubbish bins and whatever they can scrounge from humans. Although very cute looking, they are great opportunists and quick thinking. They've learnt like macaque monkeys in Asia (which I observed gate crashing the Orang-Utan feeding in Borneo), that where there are humans there are easy pickings. People are discouraged from feeding them so as to discourage behaviour that has even extended to thieving food and biting to get what they want - they can become a pest rather a cute little primate. Still, everybody say "Ahhhh" (but please don't feed them).
Rhinos are tough to spot but we were lucky to see a good dozen while on an evening drive. Kruger primarily has Black Rhinos, the rarer of the two species of Rhinos.
Cape Buffalo are generally found in or around rivers. They are extremely territorial and therefore very dangerous.
We were so lucky to find this tribe of lions who had killed the zebra extremely close to the road and were busy feeding. Some had already over eaten and were lying in the grass snoozing.
The king of beasts. Lions are hard to spot due to their shy nature and the fact that they rest most of the day.
A safari in Kruger National Park will amaze you. Be sure to go on a early morning safari, day, and evening safari!