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African Mammals

The African continent is home to a diverse group of animals. Famed for large predators, like lions and cheetahs, its savannahs are also home to a wide variety of grazing animals, as well as elephants, hippos and gorillas. Africa is not just grasslands, however -- there are deserts, snow-capped mountains, forests and jungles, all of which host animals native to those habitats. The colder regions are even home to animals you wouldn't expect to find in Africa, like wolves and penguins.

The phrase Big Five game was coined by big game hunters and refers to the five large mammals that were originally most sought in Africa. The term is still used in most tourist and wildlife guides that discuss African wildlife.

The collection consists of the lion, elephant, buffalo, leopard and black rhinoceros. The members of the big five were chosen for the difficulty in hunting them and not their size, which is why the leopard is on the list and the enormous hippopotamus (noted for lazing around in pools and rivers all day) is not. The big five are among the most dangerous animals.

The Lion is a large carnivorous feline mammal (Panthera leo) of Africa and northwest India, having a short tawny coat, a tufted tail, and, in the male, a heavy mane around the neck and shoulders.

The Elephant is one of three very large herbivorous mammals, Elephas maximus of south-central Asia, or Loxodonta africana and Loxodonta cyclotis, both of Africa, having thick, almost hairless skin, a long, flexible, prehensile trunk, upper incisors forming long curved tusks of ivory, and, in the African species, large fan-shaped ears.

Cape Buffalo are quite intimidating. They are the most dangerous of the "Big Five" game animals for hunters. They are definitely bovine characters, but also primal and with slightly mean appearance at times, despite the bouffant look of their horns.

Leopards are large, ferocious cats (Panthera pardus) of Africa and southern Asia, having either tawny fur with dark rosette-like markings or black fur, and are the epitome of elegant cats. They often eat and store food in trees.

The Rhinoceros is any of several large, thick-skinned, herbivorous mammals of the family Rhinocerotidae, of Africa and Asia, having one or two upright horns on the snout.

Above and beyond the Big Five, Africa is home to a diverse array of unique wildlife, from the industrious little weaver bird to the reclusive leopard. With such a outstanding assembly of species native to its shores, it's no wonder that Africa is widely understood to be the home of so many other worldwide species.

African Mammals
African mammals








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