Flora and fauna of South Africa: the spectacle of nature
- Flora and fauna of South Africa: the spectacle of nature
- South Africa, a world symbol of biodiversity
- Fauna of South Africa: who are the Big Five
- The South African lion
- The South African elephant
- The South African leopard
- The South African rhino
- The South African black buffalo
- Typical plants of South Africa
- Climate of South Africa in brief
Today we will talk about the flora and fauna of South Africa, a country rich in a large amount of animal and plant species.
The fauna of South Africa represents a kind of microcosm, to which more than 300 species of mammals and 860 species of birds belong. Buffalo, leopard, lion, elephant, rhinoceros: but also penguin, whale, white shark and again zebra, giraffe, wild dog, meerkat and guinea fowl. These are just a few of the hundreds of animal species that can be encountered on a South African safari. Precisely due to the great vastness of animal and plant species present on the South African territory, the country ranks sixth in the list of the 17 mega different nations of the planet.
In South Africa there are most of the living species and for this reason the country is considered one of the richest places in biodiversity in the world.
In this content, we will go on a very interesting journey to discover the flora and fauna of South Africa, or at least a part of it. We will focus in particular on the most iconic animals present in the country: we are obviously talking about the Big Five.
South Africa, a world symbol of biodiversity
South Africa is probably the world's symbol of biodiversity par excellence. The presence on its territory of many animal and plant species is the result of a harmonious succession of savannas and protected national parks, but also of mountains and important mountain ranges, in addition of course to the cold waters of the Indian and Atlantic oceans. All these environmental and landscape characteristics make South Africa a perfect combination, populated in particular by a unique and in some ways amazing fauna.
For all these reasons, all the people who decide to treat themselves to a trip to South Africa will surely be fascinated by the nature of the country, by its unique landscapes, and by the chance to see and come across the wonderful South African fauna. We begin our journey to discover the most interesting animals that populate the country.
Fauna of South Africa: who are the Big Five
When it comes to African fauna, one can only start with the description of the famous Big Five. The latter are the most characteristic animals and in some ways the most representative of the South African territory. The Big Five are:
- The lion
- The elephant
- The buffalo
- The rhino
- The leopard
The origin of the Big Five name and denomination is not particularly happy and cheerful. This term, as well as referring to the size and grandeur of these animals, also refers to the difficulty of hunting the same animals.
It was once a tradition to take part in the so-called Big Five Game, a competition between hunters from the area who challenged each other with the aim of hunting and killing a greater number of animals, among the 5 most dangerous in the entire African continent.
Unfortunately, the Big Five Game (born precisely in South Africa) attracted many international hunters to South African parks every year. In fact, it was easier to come across these large animals in the country's parks. Subsequently, the practice of hunting the Big Five sadly spread also on the territory of other African countries: Tanzania, Zimbabwe and Kenya.
The South African lion
The lion is commonly referred to as the undisputed king of the savannah. Also known as Panthera Leo, the African lion is undoubtedly one of the most feared predatory mammals on the planet and an undisputed icon of South Africa's fauna.
The lion is a majestic, proud and elegant animal: there are no enemies present in nature, capable of hunting and fighting the king of the savannah. This type of lion is present exclusively in sub-Saharan Africa. The herds of lions once present in North Africa and the Middle East have unfortunately long since disappeared.
The appearance of the Panthera Leo is quite different from that of the Asian lion. The African lion is in fact taller and more slender, and characterized by the presence of a thicker mane. Just think that a Panthera Leo can weigh up to 250 kilos for males and up to 180 kilos for female specimens. The ideal habitat of this lion is the South African savannah and its arid grasslands, perfect for camouflaging the animal.
What differentiates the lion from all other felines is certainly represented by the social behavior that characterizes the animal. In fact, the lion loves to live in a pack.
The South African elephant
The largest land mammal found in South Africa and in the wild is the elephant. The size of the African and Indian elephants is only surpassed by the large marine cetaceans. An African elephant is capable of reaching 6 meters in length and 3 meters in height. A specimen can weigh up to 8,000 kilograms.
Thanks to the presence of huge ears, this animal has an extremely developed hearing. The ears are also a great help in dissipating heat. The ivory tusks can reach up to and over a meter and a half in length. This animal lives by feeding on fruits, leaves and bark. One specimen can ingest up to 300 kilos of food per day and deposits over 250 kilos of excrement.
The favorite habitat of South African elephants is located near water sources.
The South African leopard
The African leopard (Panthera pardus) is one of the largest and most skilled predators in the world. This animal is also widespread in large part on the territory of sub-Saharan Africa and Asia, present in several and numerous species.
The leopard is a very muscular animal and at the same time extremely elegant and sinuous. The body of this animal can weigh up to 90 kilograms in males and up to 60 kilograms in females. This animal is known as one of the largest predators on the planet, since it is capable of adapting to multiple types of habitats.
The South African rhino
The African rhino is an animal that appeared on earth 40 million years ago and spread over the territories of Africa, Asia, Europe and North America. At one time this animal was present on the planet with over 30 species. Unfortunately, today only 5 remain, living only in Africa and Asia.
In Africa, there are 2 species of rhinos: the black rhino (serious danger of extinction) and the white rhino. The two species present in Africa differ not only in color but also in size. A black rhino can weigh up to 1400 kilograms, while a white rhino up to 2400 kilograms.
The South African black buffalo
The buffalo is the last of the African Big Five. This animal is particularly widespread starting from the South of the Sahara, up to the northern border of South Africa. This is a bovine characterized by a decidedly imposing appearance, capable of reaching 180 centimeters in height and a weight of 8 quintals.
A characteristic aspect of this bovine is the presence of large horns with a semi-round section, with a point directed inwards. This animal can boast the presence of a well-developed musculature and particularly wide and hard hooves, which allow the animal to move on any type of terrain.
Typical plants of South Africa
We continue our journey to discover the flora and fauna of Southern Africa.
A large number of plant species and plants grow spontaneously on the territory of South Africa, as well as flowers that many grow in the garden (daisies, gladioli, geraniums, freesias, proteas, agapanti, ixie, gigari).
In this regard, it is important to point out that South Africa is the only country in the world that encompasses one of the world's flower kingdoms on its territory: we are talking about Cape Floreal Kingdom, located largely in the Western Cape.
More than 22,000 plant species live in South Africa today, making up 10 percent of all known plant species in the world. In South Africa, however, the forests are very limited, since the country is characterized by the presence of the typical savannah vegetation.
Climate of South Africa in brief
Being located south of the Tropic of Capricorn, South Africa is characterized by the presence of a particularly dry and sunny climate. The most important influence affecting the country's climate is the particular morphology of the South African territory, as well as the presence of the surrounding oceans.
In the Western Cape, summer is decidedly dry and sunny, with temperatures reaching maximum temperatures of around 28 degrees. Winter can, on the other hand, be cold, with minimum temperatures reaching 5 degrees and reaching a maximum of 17 degrees. During the winter season, snowfalls can also occur on the hills of the country.