Every year thousands of tourists visit Kenya and the Maasai Mara in the hope of catching a glimpse of the big five.
So what are the Big 5?
The big five were so named by colonial hunters for being the five most difficult and notoriously dangerous animals to hunt and kill.
They were the Elephant, Rhino, Lion, Leopard and Buffalo. Thankfully nowadays most people want to come and shoot the big five with a camera, not a rifle!
Here’s some interesting facts about each of the big five;
- Elephants can use their trucks to act as snorkels when crossing deep water
- Their ears help them to keep cool in the hot sun, by flapping them they can dissipate heat from veins lying just under the skin
- Their Ivory tusks which sadly put them at huge risk from poachers are modified upper incisors which never stop growing.
- The gestation period for a female Elephant is 22 months, the longest of all mammals!
- Their lifespan is 60-80 years.
- All Rhino species are endangered animals due to poaching and loss of habitat.
- The Maasai Mara is home to only Black Rhino of which there are approximately 40 within the whole 1510sq.km reserve.
- The black Rhino is defined by it’s hooked lip and narrower jaw than the White Rhino which is found in other Kenyan parks.
- African Rhino do not have incisor or canine teeth only huge serrated cheek teeth for grinding vegetation.
- A female Rhino will have a calf only every 2-4 years after a 15 month gestation.
- Rhinos when charging can reach up to 30mph (50kph)
- Lions will feed on anything from Tortoises to Giraffe but prefer what they’ve been brought up on so their main diet varies from pride to pride.
- Male Lions develop their manes in the beginning of their third year of age
- A pride can be anything from 2-40 Lions.
- Lions are the most sociable of all the cat families, related females will even cross suckle each others cubs enabling the other females to stay out hunting.
- A female will have up to 6 cubs after a 105 day gestation period.
- If a male takes over a pride he will kill any cubs so that he can sire his own.
- Leopards are nocturnal hunters.
- They are mainly solitary
- They will feed on any kind of animal protein available from Termites to Waterbuck. They will also turn to livestock and domestic dogs when desperate.
- Where possible they will hide their kill up a tree to avoid losing it to Lions and Hyena.
- A female will have 1-4 cubs after a 90-105 day gestation period.
- Leopards are famous for their rosette spots.
- African Buffalo are very sociable living in herds of up to several thousand. They pack close together and often lay touching.
- They work together to protect each other and especially the calves by responding to distress calls and charging en-masse.
- Bulls past their prime mating age are often found in bachelor herds or alone and are the most dangerous!
- Females have one calf after an 11 month gestation.
Aside from the big five there are so many other things to see within the Maasai Mara from the extensive bird life to Hippos, Giraffe, other big cats, Hyenas, various antelope and the Maasai tribespeople themselves. We encourage everyone to come with an open mind and you won’t be disappointed!!