The Famous BIG 5

Of all the mammals in Africa why were these ones chosen as the BIG 5?

In the19th and early 20thcenturies The Big Five quickly became known as the most dangerous animals to hunt on foot. With hunters seeking the thrill of hunting one of these well known animals. This is where the whole idea of the big five began.

Now the Big 5 namely Elephant, Lion, Leopard, Buffalo and Rhino are highly sought after by guests coming to visit Africa.

The African Elephant 

Always great to share a sighting of these gentle giants while out on a game drive with guests. Elephants are very social animals and live in family groups where every member is of great importance. In the breeding herds the oldest female is the matriarch and makes all the dissensions within the herd. After carrying the calf for around 22 months the female will do anything to protect her calf from danger. If a threat is around the adults in the herd will often form a close group with the little ones in the middle.

Lion

We don’t meet many guests that don’t want to see a lion. There is nothing better then hearing them roar, that sound goes right through you. Lions are the only truly social cats living in close nit prides. Female lions are the pride’s primary hunters however the males do help from time to time. Although lions can be active at any time, their activity generally peaks at dawn and after dusk when it cools down. That is why we do most of our game drives during these times.

Buffalo

One of the big five that we don’t see very often, they have been nicknamed “The ghosts of the Pilanesberg” for a good reason. During the summer months they like to hide in the north of the reserve but in the winter months we start seeing them again.

Leopard

There is always great excitement when we get the privilege to see one of these cats. Leopards just seem to appear when you least expect it. They tend to be nocturnal (active mainly at night) when their great night vision gives them an advantage. Unlike lions, leopards are solitary cats only one might see them together if it is a female with cubs or a mating pair but the rest of the time they wonder around alone. The white spot on the end of the tail is used by the female to communicate with cubs while hunting or in long grass.

Rhino

We get both the Black and the White Rhino in Pilanesberg. One is very lucky to see a Black Rhino as there are fewer of them and they like to hide in bushy areas. The white rhino being a grazer is easier to spot as they standout in the open. Poaching of rhinos is a huge problem that even we battle with, but we have an amazing anti-poaching team which make a huge difference.

Some green vegetation and great sightings after a little rain

We Have had our first bit of rain which has helped turn everything green again, we are hoping for a lot more soon to help fill up the dams.

In the meantime we have started seeing the odd baby Springbok and zebra as the baby season has started.

We are waiting in anticipation for the ”baby boom” . . . Any day now.

You never know what you might see while out on a game drive with us:

A sad but once in a lifetime sighting

Every now and then you get a sighting where you sit back and think to yourself “Wow did I just see that?” This was one of those sightings for me.

On the 2/09/2016 at around 13.00 I was making my way into the Pilanesberg when I asked for updates over the radio. Walter was doing a game drive at that time and informed me that lions had attacked a baby giraffe that had a broken leg, but the mother giraffe had chased them off. He had left the sighting so was not sure what the outcome was. I headed straight there not knowing what I would find.

When I arrived at the sighting the calf was lying half on the road with four lions under a tree not far from it. The youngster was still alive, the mom was pacing up and down checking on it and keeping an eye on the lions. After about an hour the calf stopped moving and I realized it had succumbed to its injuries. That didn’t stop the mother from pacing up and down checking on it and chasing the lions when they tried to move in. The sounds the mother was making were fascinating, I have never heard a giraffe growl like that, at first I thought it was the lions.

About another 45mins after the young giraffe had died the mom stepped aside and gave up, the lions moved in and she just watched. It was heartbreaking to see the determination and stress that this mother was going through. Once she had given up it was like the tables had turned, when she approached one last time one of the young males managed to chase her away this time. Two days later, she was still hanging around where her little one had passed on. It is a very sad sighting to see and one has mixed emotions but this is what happens in the wild all the time, we are just now privileged enough to experience first hand.

Walter managed to get the first part of the story on video and I got the end so we have put it together to share this amazing yet, emotional, once in a lifetime sighting with everyone!

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