If you’re an ardent fan of the Simply Zuri brand, then you will have noticed that our most popular collection of jewellery is inspired by what are known as the Big Five animals.
Why the “Big Five”?
The term was coined by big-game hunters and refers to the five most difficult animals in Africa to hunt on foot and the danger involved in doing so. They have now become major targets for wildlife conservationists in recent years, so we wanted to pay tribute to these big five animals and highlight their vulnerable status. It is deeply saddening that some species are highly endangered and almost extinct.
To give you a closer insight into these incredible animals, we’re sharing 5 interesting facts about each of these big five animals to get you better acquainted with them, and inspire a new found respect for them, or even lead you to adopt one as your new favourite animal.
Buffalo (Nyati in Swahili)
“Cows run away from the storm while the buffalo charges toward it – and gets through it quicker. Whenever I’m confronted with a tough challenge, I do not prolong the torment. I become the buffalo.” Wilma Mankiller
The African buffalo, also called Cape buffalo, are tall in size and dark (almost black) in colour. One characteristic feature of an adult male buffalo’s horns is the “boss” which is a fused base that forms a continuous bone shield across the top of the head. They are dangerous when encountered alone and they are estimated to kill over 200 people every year.
- They live in mixed gender groups called herds, often consisting of over 1,000 members.
- They are herbivores with their food consisting of different types of grass, herbs and shrubs.
- Their young are called calves, and the gestation period is between 9 – 11 months. Their average lifespan is about 25 years.
- These large animals easily overheat, making them feed mostly at night when it’s cool and rest during the day when it’s hot.
- They can run at a speed of 57km (35miles) per hour.
Elephant (Ndovu in Swahili)
“They say an elephant never forgets. What they don’t tell you is you never forget an elephant.” Bill Murray
The word elephant comes from a Greek words “elephas” meaning “ivory”. It is the largest, herbivorous mammal with a snout modified into a trunk and its teeth take the form of tusks.
The tusks are used for digging salt and water, to debark trees and clear paths, and also to mark trees to establish their territory. The average lifespan of these big five animals is between 50 to 70 years.
- Elephants have unique animal intelligence that can display grief, compassion, self-awareness, play and altruism. They may have a preference for one tusk over the other, just like humans are left or right-handed.
- Their brain is highly developed, to up-to 3-4 times larger than of humans, and their skin is an inch thick.
- Elephants listen by putting their trunks on the ground to trap vibrations. They also listen with their feet by picking up sub-sonic rumblings made by other elephants through vibrations in the ground.
- Elephants pay homage to the bones of the dead by gently touching skulls and tusks with their trunks and feet. It is also said that an elephant will stop still and silent for several minutes when they pass a place where a loved one died.
- Their extremely large ears are used to radiate excess heat away from their bodies.
Rhino (Kifaru in Swahili)
For an actress to be a success, she must have the face of a Venus, the brains of a Minerva, the grace of Terpsichore, the memory of a Macaulay, the figure of Juno, and the hide of a rhinoceros”. Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Rhinos are herbivores that are easily identifiable by their horned snouts. The word ‘Rhinoceros’ is derived from Greek, with ‘rhino’ being nose and ‘ceros’ meaning horn.
- A male rhino is called a bull, a female is a cow, the young is a calf and a group of rhinoceros is called a crash.
- Rhino horn is made of keratin, a major component of human hair and fingernails. The core of the horn also has mineral deposits of melanin and calcium which acts as a sunblock and strengthens the horn.
- The thickness of their skin is estimated to be 1.5 cm – 5cm. Despite this, it is quite sensitive and can react to insect bites and sunburns. That is why they love mud which also provides protection from the sun and insects.
- A rhino has three toes on each foot and their tracks resemble the Ace of Clubs
- Squeaks, snorts of anger, grunts and even poop are forms of communication for rhinos. Male, female and calf poop all smell different, and it is also used as a way to mark their territory.
Leopard (Chui in Swahili)
“Leopard print has been my thing forever! When I was a teenager my entire room was done in leopard print – it’s timeless, chic, and always in style. When in doubt… leopard” – Khloe Kardashian
The name “leopard” comes from the Greek word leopardus, which is a combination of leon (lion) and pardus (panther). These beautiful cats can live in almost any kind of habitat, including rainforests, deserts, woodlands, savannas, mountain habitats, coastal scrubs, shrub lands and swampy areas.
- They are solitary in nature and they only spend time with others when they are mating or raising young ones.
2. Leopards are nocturnal animals, meaning they hunt at night.
3. Leopards’ ears can hear five times more sounds that the human ear.
4. Their spots are called rosettes because they look like roses. Their spotted bodies enable them to camouflage with the trees, helping them to tactfully pounce on their prey.
5. Leopards communicate with each other through distinctive calls. When one male wants make another aware of his presence, he’ll make a hoarse, raspy cough. They also growl when angry and, like domestic cats, purr when happy and relaxed.
Lion (Simba in Swahili)
“A lion does not lose sleep over the opinions of a sheep”
The lion is known as the king of the jungle in most cultures because of its dominating appearance and due to the social structure of a pride and its role within it. A male lion’s unique characteristic is the thick mane of hair around the neck and head, while females are maneless. There are however some species of lions which are maneless, and these can popularly be seen in Kenya’s Tsavo National Park.
- A group of lions is called a pride; on average it can consist of 15 individuals (males, females and their young) although this is variable depending on the their access to food and water in their habitat.
- The males defend the pride’s territory while the females hunt. On average, males sleep for up to 20 hours in a day.
- A lion’s roar can be heard from up to 8 km (5 miles) away.
- Countries like Albania, Belgium, England, Ethiopia, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Singapore regard the lion as their national symbol. This is because lions are associated with pride, courage, and strength. Even Kenya has a watermark of a lion’s head on its currency notes which is visible when you hold the note against the light.
- When a lioness comes into heat, a male will become her constant companion for the next few days. They will mate every 15 minutes or so during that time!
If you are in Kenya, don’t miss the opportunity to see all of the big five animals at the following national parks and wildlife conservancies: Tsavo East and West National Park, Meru National Park, Borana Conservancy, Ol Pejeta Conservancy, Masai Mara National Reserve and Lewa Wildlife Conservancy.
Remember to take a picture and tag us on Instagram or Facebook.