7 Wonderful Wild Animals of South Africa
SIZE: Baboon males reach a head and body length of between 100 and 110 cms and weigh about 32 kgs. Tails can reach a length of 70 cms.
DESCRIPTION: Baboons range in color from dark brown to dark grey with a great deal of long black hair on the body. The tail is carried with the first third held upwards and the other two-thirds hanging downwards. Adult males have a mane of long hair on the back of the neck and shoulders.
FOOD: Baboons eat a wide range of vegetable matter and insects. Grasses, seeds, roots, bulbs, leaves, flowers, bark, gum, mushrooms, wild flowers, pods, shoots, spiders, scorpions, ants, and even slugs are all food for baboons.
Regular access to drinking water is essential to the survival of the baboon.
SIZE: The buffalo male stands about 140 cms at the shoulder and weighs up to 800 kgs.
DESCRIPTION: Buffalo are large, heavily built, ox-like animals ranging in colour from reddish-brown to black. The horns of the old males are massive. Young buf- falo are well haired, but adults have a very sparse coating. Ears are large and tipped with hair, the muzzle is broad and usually shiny while the tail is long and has a tuft of black or dark brown hair at the tip.
FOOD: Buffalo are predominantly grazers but will occasionally browse. Fresh,sprouting young grass is attractive to them but they will readily feed on old grass.
Buffalo occur in herds of several thousand and they are reputed to be the most dangerous African species to hunt.
SIZE: From the tip of the nose to the tip of the tail the cheetah is about 2 m long.They stand about 80 cms at the shoulder and weigh about 50 kgs.
DESCRIPTION: Cheetah are very elegant and have beautiful spotted coats. They are tall and slender and have long tails. The cheetah has a rounded head, very short muzzle and small rounded ears. They have very distinctive “tear marks” curving from the inner corners of the eyes to the corners of the mouth.
FOOD: Cheetah are solitary hunters of prey weighing up to 60 kgs. They prefer young buck, zebra and giraffe and small mammals such as guinea fowl, bustards, porcupine and hares.
Cheetah are considered the fastest animals on earth over short distances and achieve speeds of up to 75 km per hour for distances from 100 – 300 m.
SIZE: The largest of the African antelope, the adult male Eland stands about 1,7 m at the shoulder and weighs up to 700 kgs.
DESCRIPTION: Eland vary in colour from light fawn to dun and usually have narrow white stripes down their flanks. The males have heavier horns than females and the world record for a pair of Eland horns is 102,3 cms.
FOOD: Eland prefer to browse but during the summer months graze consid- erably. They use their horns to break branches so that they can reach the green leaves.
Eland are timid animals and are quick to gallop off if disturbed. If a fence blocks their way, they will approach it slowly, pause, and then jump, easily clearing 2 m.
SIZE: The elephant has the highest shoulder height of all mammals, the highest recorded height being 4 m. Adult males weigh between 5 550 kgs and 6 00kgs. The heaviest pair of tusks on record weighed 102,3 kgs and 97 kgs.
DESCRIPTION: The skin colour of elephants is grey or brownish-grey. The ear flaps are very large and can reach a vertical height of 2 m and are flapped to create air currents over the blood vessels thus cooling the body temperature. The main feature of the species is undoubtedly the trunk which is extremely versatile. The moth is small and spout-shaped.
FOOD: Elephants browse and graze and will also eat the bark of certain trees. Elephants need about 300 kgs of green food and 160 litres of water daily.
Elephants are extremely destructive and when entering a small woodland have been known to destroy up to two thirds of the trees.
SIZE: The average height of a male giraffe is between 4,9 m and 5,2 m and the average weight is 1 200 kgs.
DESCRIPTION: The body of the giraffe is large with irregularly shaped patches of dark brown colour divided by lighter-colored bands. The lower parts of the legs are usually white. The tops of the two “horns” are covered with black hair and giraffe have a mane of stiff brush-like black hair down the back of their long necks.
FOOD: Giraffe are browsers but will occasionally graze on fresh palatable grasses.
Because of their long necks, giraffe cannot scratch the sides of their heads and necks with their hind legs as other animals do, so they rub against trees and other tall objects to relieve irritation.
SIZE: Hippopotamus males reach a weight of 2 000 kgs and stand about 1,5 m at the shoulder. Calves weigh about 60 kgs at birth.
DESCRIPTION: Hippopotamus have barrel-shaped bodies, short stout legs,broad heads and smooth naked skin. Their mouths are very large and wide and their eyes raised on bony protuberances on the top of the head. The body is grey-black in colour with a pink tinge.
FOOD: Hippopotamus are grazers and eat up to 130 kgs of green grass per full feed. They can cause great damage on riverside farms as they are notorious crop raiders.
Hippopotamus walk on the bottom of deep pools and tend to use the same paths which become clearly marked on the sandy bottom. They can remain underwater for 5 to 6 minutes.