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South Africa 

Dangerous Animals on the Travel Guide South Africa

Lion - Male and Female
Lion: "Lion" comes from the Greek word "Leon," for the animal.
Location: Africa and India.
Habitat: Savanna and scrub; in India it has adapted to forest life.
Description: The normal colour is tawny-yellow. The female has paler colouring. Length of head and body in males is over six feet. A male lion can weigh up to 550 pounds, with the females much smaller than the males.
Behaviour: Lions are social animals, living in prides usually made up of one or more adult males, two or more females, and numerous cubs and adolescents. It hunts mainly at night, but is also active during the cooler part of the day. It hunts by ambushing prey such as zebra. Because the lion tires quickly, it does not usually pursue its prey. The resources of several lions are often combined: while the group stalks the prey, an animal may be ambushed by a lone lion, usually a lioness, which often kills the prey with a single blow on the back breaking the spinal column.
Reproduction: Gestation lasts for 105 days, after which the female gives birth to two to four cubs which will remain with the group for at least 18 months. Female young may stay with the pride permanently, but the males will have to leave upon sexual maturity

White rhinoceros
Rhinoceros: "Rhinoceros" literally means "nose horn."
Location: Southern Sudan and South Africa.
Habitat: Grasslands, savanna, and also near swamps and rivers.
Description: The white rhinoceros is larger and heavier than the black rhinoceros. The horns are longer and thinner. This rhinoceros can reach 13 feet in length, and it weighs upward of 5000 pounds, making it the third largest living land animal behind the elephant and the hippopotamus.
Behaviour: The white rhinoceros is less aggressive than the black rhinoceros. It rarely charges, and males only engage in combat during the mating season. It feeds on grass. It, too, needs water daily, and often wallows at length in water or mud. It has poor sight, but has acute hearing.
Reproduction: The female has 1 calf every 3 to 4 years after an 18 month gestation.
Note: This is one of the most endangered species in the world since only about 4000 still survive. The major threat to the white rhino is humans poaching for the horns.

Hippopotamus: "Hippopotamus" is a Greek combination of "hippo potamus" meaning "horse (of the) river."
Location: Sub-Saharan Africa.
Habitat: Amphibious. Rivers and lakes, surrounded by grassland.
Description: The body is a uniform brownish gray. The eyes, nostrils, and ears can all remain above the surface of the water when the rest of the hippo is submerged, like a crocodile. The canine teeth are long and curved. This is the second largest land animal (only the elephant is larger), with short legs, a massive body, and a large head. The adult hippo can reach fifteen feet long, It weighs over two and one half tons!
Behaviour: The hippopotamus is well adapted to an amphibious (two-lives: one in water and one out of water) life. It spends most of its time submerged in water. It swims well, but usually walks on the river bottoms. Hippos often fight violently with each other, frequently opening their mouths widely as a threat signal.
Reproduction: After a gestation period of 227-240 days, the female produces a single calf which she nurses for 4 to 6 months. The calf is born and is nursed underwater!
Note: The hippopotamus kills more people in Africa than any other mammal.

Black rhinoceros
Rhinoceros: "Rhinoceros" literally means "nose horn," and in this species we have the "bicornis," which means "two horn."
Location: Africa.
Habitat: Scrub and savanna, open forested areas, up to 11,500 feet.
Description: The black rhino differs from the white rhinoceros in having a proportionately smaller head, smaller ears set more to the side, no hump at the base of the neck, and an upper lip that is triangular in shape, very flexible. It has two horns, the front one being the longer of the two. These large animals stretch almost 12 feet stem to stern. They weigh about 3000 pounds at maturity.
Behaviour: The males are usually solitary and the females are often accompanied by their offspring. The rhinoceros must drink daily. It feeds on leaves, acacia bark, and shoots. Unlike its Indian cousin, the black rhino is highly aggressive, and it charges (sometimes for no apparent reason) at a considerable speed. It has weak vision, but this is offset by the highly developed senses of smell and hearing.
Reproduction: Gestation lasts for 18 months reproduces every 3 years.

African buffalo
Buffalo: is a Portuguese word for the animal. It is probably derived from the French "boeuf," which gave us the English word "beef". Location: Africa south of the Sahara.
Habitat: From forest to savanna, always near water.
Description: The body is sparsely haired in adults, but is furred in young animals. It is heavily built with stout legs, a short neck, a broad muzzle, and large ears. The horns are heavy with a broad base and are present in both sexes. The set of horns may span more than three feet. The tail has a terminal tuft for swatting flies. This animal reaches about ten feet long and weighs just under one ton.
Behaviour: This animal gathers in groups that can reach up to 2000 individuals. The herd is dominated by an old bull, but is led by a cow. The buffalo feeds mainly on grass, but also eats leaves, twigs and shoots, and must drink at least once a day.
Reproduction: Gestation lasts about 340 days, after which a single calf is born. The calf will nurse for 6 to 8 months and reach sexual maturity in about two years.

Spotted, or laughing hyena
Hyena: Comes from the Greek word "Hus," which means "swine."
Location: Sub-Saharan Africa except densely forested areas.
Habitat: Savanna and open grassland.
Description: This is the largest of all the hyenas, with a robust powerful body, a large head, large eyes, and rounded ears. The colour of the coat is variable but tends to brown, yellow, or gray, with numerous dark spots. and has a short tail. It can grow to over six feet long, twelve inches of which is tail. It can weigh up to 180 pounds.
Behaviour: This hyena is generally nocturnal, but does move around during the day. It lives alone or in pairs, and it patrols a large territory often following other large herbivores on their migratory routes. It feeds on carcasses, but can attack and tear apart animals the size of a gnu. It has learned to follow herbivores during the calving season, and will kill the young almost as soon as they are born.
Reproduction: The gestation period lasts for about 110 days, after which one or two young (and occasionally three) are born. The offspring nurse for about 18 months.

African bat-eared fox
Fox: "Fox" is an Old English word for the animal.
Location: East and southern Africa.
Habitat: All types of savanna and open plains.
Description: This fox is mostly yellowish brown with some black on the feet, face, and tips of the ears and tail. Tail is bushy. The head and body are about 23 inches long. This fox weighs seven to ten pounds.
Behaviour: This animal lives alone, in pairs, or in groups of up to seven. Generally it is nocturnal, but it is often seen moving about during the day. It hides among tall grasses, in thick bushes, or in holes in the ground. It feeds mostly on insects, but will eat small rodents, eggs, lizards, and other animals. It never preys on livestock. It is preyed on by large rap-tors such as eagles.
Reproduction: Gestation lasts for 60 to 70 days and three to five young are born in a burrow between December and February.

Baboon: "Baboon" probably comes from French "babuin," which means a "gaping face."
Location: Southern Africa.
Habitat: Rocky terrain in savannas, or cliffs at the seashore.
Description: The baboon, although a large monkey, is quite slender. Its coarse coat is dark olive-green, with the underside slightly paler. The length of the head and body can reach up to 40 inches plus another 27 inches for its tail. It can weigh up to 100 lbs, with females somewhat smaller.
Behaviour: Baboons live in large groups, numbering up to 200 individuals, in which there is a strict hierarchical order. The size of the group depends on the availability of food and varies from habitat to habitat. If attacked, all the males will engage in fierce combat. Their last form of defence is to flee into trees. Feeding mainly on plant matter, but also eating small mammals and birds. 

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Which of the 'Big Five' do you find most impressive?
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