LEOPARD

The solitary, stealthy leopard is the largest of Africa's spotted cats, with males weighing up to approximately 60 kg. The leopards of the mountainous regions of the southern and south-western Cape tend to be smaller.
There is considerable colour variation over their range from India to southern Africa. The so-called 'black leopard' is more common in India, Somalia, Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire) and has also been encountered in South Africa. Leopards are silent, secretive animals, whose vocalisation is a hoarse, rasping cough repeated at intervals. They move in a casual loping stride, or they may make off at a bouncing gallop, changing to a fast trot. All of their senses are well-developed and they are therefore extremely efficient hunters.
ELEPHANT

A well-known and respected member of the Big Five, the adult male African elephant is the largest and heaviest of all land mammals. The weight of a prime bull can turn the scale at 6 000 kg. Undeniably, the glory and yet the downfall of this magnificent beast is the bulk and quality of the ivory in its tusks.The heaviest recorded pair weighed almost 200 kg, from one in central Africa.
African elephants occur throughout south, east and west central Africa. The forest elephant is significantly different from elephants of other regions, but only as regards its smaller size and darker hide. The elephants of the Far East are decidedly different both in shape and temperament. The habitat tends to influence the behaviour and even the appearance of elephants. By far the largest proportion of elephants in southern Africa is found in bushveld country. The desert elephants of the arid Kaokoveld need just as much food and water to survive as other elephants. They are extremely careful in their eating habits, stripping off only the food needed.
LION

This king of the African wilderness is the largest of Africa's predators. Males can weigh up to 230 kg while females are smaller and lighter. Only the male is maned. In very rare cases unmaned males have been recorded. The mane is usually brown, but black-maned animals also occur as do extremely rare cases of melanistic (black) lions. Rare albinistic specimens, commonly known as the 'white lions of Timbavati', also occur in the area.

Lions are active at night, mainly around sunrise and early evening. The nocturnal hunting is a combined effort, but the females usually do the killing. In the case of small prey, a swipe from a powerful paw is sufficient to kill it. Larger prey is killed by having its neck twisted and broken by a powerful wrench between the lion's forelegs and its jaws, which are clamped to the victim's neck. Larger animals are also suffocated by a powerful grip across the larynx or the muzzle.
BUFFALO

These large, ox-like bovids have earned a reputation for being one of Africa's most dangerous and cunning beasts. And not without reason. Despite the fact that they are herbivores, they have been responsible for the deaths of many people. Much of this reputation is based on hunter's tales, and relate to the animal's response to being hunted.

Nevertheless, they are respected by all with whom they come into contact. The animals are quick-tempered and will not hesitate to use their massive horns if they perceive a threat. Their reputation for extreme cunning and circling around to wait in ambush for a hunter following their trail is probably much exaggerated. This may occur only if the animal is seriously wounded. They are generally most active in the evening, night and morning, resting up in the shade during the heat of the day. They are gregarious, and can congregate in massive herds of in excess of a thousand animals.
RHINO

The major differences between the two species are the following: The white rhino has a square upper lip used for grazing while the black rhino has a prehensile, hook-shaped upper lip enabling it to strip the leaves off trees and shrubs. The latter can also be distinguished by its smaller size and the absence of a nuchal (neck) hump present in the white rhino.
Although the white rhino is the larger of the two species, it is more placid and therefore less dangerous than its bad-tempered cousin.

An interesting difference between the species is that the calf of the white rhino usually precedes its mother when walking, while the black rhino calf follows after its mother. Both species have very poor eyesight, compensated for by their acute sense of hearing and smell. When running, the white rhino holds its head near to the ground, unlike the black rhino which runs with its head held high. During the mating season the males of both species will put up a good fight for the females. Battles between the males can be very fierce and are sometimes fatal. Black rhinos are territorial and therefore very vulnerable to poaching.