African Safaris- So Much More Than The Big 5?
The so-called African Big 5, the lion, leopard, black rhinoceros, Cape buffalo and African elephant gain all the attention when it comes to an African safari. When we work with first-time safari clients their voices become more and more animated as they explain their excitement at the prospect of coming face to face with these African icons. We understand this, the experience is undeniably breathtaking and should be celebrated as a highlight of any African safari adventure. However, is there more to an African adventure than just observing and photographing these 5 magnificent animals? Our answer is of course, ABSOLUTELY.
Unfortunately, due to how Africa is marketed clients are not aware of the amazing variety of wildlife an African safari has to offer. Images of lions and elephants dominate both digital and printed marketing material, therefore overlooking all the other wonderful species of animals. As wildlife specialists we ensure our safaris celebrate wildlife diversity. The aim of this post is to introduce you to a variety of African wildlife species before directing you towards our social media platforms where we are able to provide much more detail.
The Big 5 represent only a miniscule percentage of Africa’s mammal species. Africa is actually home to an astonishing 1100 species of mammals. In addition to this, the continent also supports over 2600 bird species, 1654 reptiles, over 1000 amphibians, as well as innumerous invertebrates. There are more wild animals for you to interact with than you would ever have time to cover. Now, it would be misleading to suggest you will rack up anywhere near these figures on your safari ‘have seen’ list but it serves as a guide to the biodiversity on offer on this magnificent continent. That said you will certainly be astonished with the number of species you will observe and photograph on one of our safaris.
Big cat lovers do not just have to be content with lions and leopards. Obviously, there is also the well known cheetah stalking the plains but also 7 other medium and small sized cats including caracal, serval and the diminutive black-footed cat.
Not to be outgunned by their rivals, dogs also number 10 individual species made up of foxes, jackals, wolves and the iconic African wild dog. A particularly exciting sighting for me is always the bat-eared fox.
There are 4 species of hyena present in Africa. The most recognised and easily observed is the spotted hyena. The other 3 species are more nocturnal and elusive and include the striped hyena, brown hyena and aardwolf.
Primates, including great apes and monkeys and lemurs, number 216 species across the continent. Astonishingly 105 occur on Madagascar and 111 on the mainland. Of these are the 3 gorilla species, the common chimpanzee, gelada, mandrill, vervet monkey, l’hoests monkey, baboons and golden monkey to name but only several.
An interesting family, overlooked by novice safari clients due to poor coverage in the safari world, is the vivverid species. Comprising genets and civets, these wonderful animals are notoriously elusive due to their nocturnal habits. However, they are more numerous than you may imagine and can be seen occasionally around your camp or lodge and also on night game drives. Other interesting and elusive small creatures include the aardvark, pangolin, Cape porcupine, springhare, honey badger and zorilla. The mongoose family has 8 species which include the meerkat (suricate).
Larger game not afforded Big 5 status but being no less impressive includes the giraffe (8 sub-species), zebra, common hippopotamus and large antelope such as roan antelope, sable antelope, oryx and eland. These impressive antelope species are only 4 of a total of 72 that call Africa home.
Raptor species occur in large numbers with 83 present in Southern Africa alone. The iconic martial eagle is the largest eagle on the continent with the diminutive pygmy falcon being the smallest. Other interesting raptor sightings include the African fish eagle, bateleur and secretary bird.
Our philosophy is to create thoughtful safari packages that expose you to a wide variety of wildlife as well as quality sightings. We want you to return home reporting to friends and family ‘we saw absolutely everything we could wish to see’, our most satisfying phrase. Knowledge of wildlife is our speciality and what sets us apart from the rest. To help you have the ultimate wildlife adventure we use our knowledge of wildlife distribution and behaviour to ensure you see as much as possible. For example, African wild dogs have very specific strongholds throughout the continent so in actual fact can’t be observed in any old game reserve or national park. Those desperate to see brown hyena must visit Southern African countries as they don’t occur as far north as East Africa. Oryx lovers need to visit arid habitats to view this desert dwelling antelope. Our packages also combine national parks and game reserves with different habitats to ensure wildlife diversity.
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