South Africa is one of the leading tourist destinations with the most diverse animal species. It is equally home to both the largest & the smallest animals in the world, which are housed in the various zoos scattered across the country as well as in the green forests in valleys that house endangered species and shelter them from the targeting eyes of poachers and unauthorized hunters. Keep on reading to see the largest and smallest animals that can be found in South Africa:
5 Largest Animals of South Africa
The size of their trunks defines their age. They are powerful such that they can fall trees for food and fun. They eat heavily to sustain their bodies and live in groups. Each group has a bull which acts as the leader, protector and a mate. They eat 23 hours a day continuously and are the biggest living animals in the entire world. Their gestation period is 22 months (almost 2 years).
Their staple food being the meat, they have a variety of animals to choose from. The male dominates the females and can go anywhere they wish. They live in large families of up to 25 lions, where they control certain areas. The males run fast but for short distances. The Lions’ roar can be heard as far as 5 miles (8km) and is intended to ward off intruders or to locate members. They do not have any known predators except man.
An average rhino weighs between 850-1600 kilos (1900-3500 lb). Their heights range from between 1.5 to 1.75 meters and they have the length of 3.5 to 3.9 meters. They are either black or white but the white rhinos are endangered. The black rhinos have one horn while the white rhinos have two horns. They eat grass and bushes and live in herds. They are very fast and charges at anything that comes near though they have poor eyesight but great hearing & smell. There are only two white (female) rhinos left in the world right now. The last white male rhino died on March 19, 201,8 due to age-related issues and multiple infections.
They have huge horns & floppy ears. They live between 15-23 years and weigh around 1700 pounds. Their biggest threats include lions, hyenas, and crocodiles. They live in herds with males for breeding and protection. They are a threat to even lions when in a large group and attack to kill. They eat grass and bushes and are larger than cows. They are the only animals whose horns are not bone structured.
Leopards hunt at night & sleep during the day. They camouflage with the surrounding making it hard to be seen. They hunt bigger animals, are agile, able to run fast, jump high, and can climb a tree with a kill. They have a single mate for life and prefer to keep their families at home. Their families include father, mother, and children.
5 Smallest Animals of South Africa
The following is a list of the smallest animals of South Africa – “Little Five”:
1. Ant Lion
It is the smallest among the little five and is known in the U.S as “doodlebug”. These animals dig small holes in the ground to catch ants and suck them dry. The Ant-lion is just but a stage of an insect similar to a dragonfly. They live in dry areas of South Africa especially the sandy areas. They have widebodies, lacks an anus and have large jaws. It is not known how they got their name though it is suggested that it’s due to their predatory nature.
2. Elephant Shrew
It has a nose resembling the elephant nose. However, they are tiny & hard to find. Their staple food includes nuts, seeds, and fruits. They stay hidden most of their lives since they have numerous predators like the snakes.
3. Leopard Tortoise
They have unique & beautiful markings on the shells where the name is derived from. They are found in the drier parts of South Africa and their main diet is grass. They live over hundred years and they only burrow when building nests for their eggs. They are known to reach 18 inches in length and weigh 40 lbs. They live alone.
4. Rhino Beetle
They are large insects which have strong black body armor and can grow up to 2.5 inches in length. Both sexes have horns though the males have bigger ones. The males use them for fighting, digging food inside undergrowth or rotten trees. Their staple foods include sap, vegetable matter, rotten fruits and the bark. They can take up to 5 years to mature from larvae. They are the strongest animals in the world according to their body weight.
5. Buffalo Weaver Bird
They are divided into the White-headed Buffalo Weaver and the Black Buffalo Weaver. They are found in dry regions of South Africa. The Buffalo Weavers are known to make messy nests which are large and communal with several entrances. The nests are made of thorns & sticks while their diet consists of small seeds, small fruits, and grass seeds. They are the largest of the group and measures about 24 cm in length.