The kudu bull is a very majestic antelope with its very long spiral horns reaching for the heavens. They are marvellous high-jumpers clearing a 2m fence with ease. Their disruptive colouration in the form of lines blends them perfectly into their dappled environment by breaking the solid outline of the animal in order to camouflage it. Moral lesson-never jump to conclusions about people until you have stood in their place and never assume anything; rather clarify things verbally beforehand.
They are called the “Macdonalds” of the bush because of the “M” found on its rear and also because it is fed on by many different predators. Only impala have a black gland on each ankle called metatarsal glands-their function is still uncertain. Moral lesson-don’t think that we know everything. Rather be open to what others may say and thereafter decide whether it can be of use or not.
Recent studies have shown that the stripes on a zebra are present for the purpose of thermo regulation. Each animal has a unique stripe pattern which is quite phenomenal- no two are the same. Moral lesson-no two people are the same. Externally, identical twins look the same but emotionally and their personalities may differ considerably. So, never say that people are like robots and do the same things, when in fact they are driven by different interests and motivations.
The patches that are found on its body help to break up its outline and provide camouflage. Even in the embryo, the main pair of horns exist, formed of cartilage from a layer of skin and unattached to the skull which is unlike all other mammals (they later fuse to the parietals rather than to the frontal bones of the skull as is the case with antelope and deer) and miraculously they lie flat at birth but within a few days stand erect thereby presenting no obstacle at birth.
They appear to be very docile but looks are deceiving and there is good reason for buffalo to be part of the BIG 5. Old buffalo bulls form groups and are called ‘dagha boys’ from the Zulu word meaning ‘mud’. Their hair on their body is lacking and regular wallowing in mud helps protect them from the sun and insects.
These characters are the 4 by 4’s of the African bush; I have seen these giants in places that have been difficult for people to reach. They have incredible dexterity in their trunks which they use for a myriad of different purposes. Moral lesson-just as elephants can reach ‘unreachable destinations’ so too can people achieve things they never thought possible to achieve.
A hippo’s sensory apparatus namely, eyes, ears and nostrils are positioned on the top of the head which allows it to submerge the rest of its body and get protection from the sun without compromising on its vitals- its ability to see, hear and breathe. There is amazing design in the hippo’s legs and lungs and the way in which these two organs complement each other; large lungs allow it to breathe underwater. Inflated lungs make it buoyant and deflated lungs allow it to sink. Large lungs give it the means breathe longer and stay submerged for longer thereby preventing them from the sun but on the other hand the inflated lungs keep it buoyant and prevent it from sinking anyway. So, its needs to stay underwater for long for protection from the sun and therefore be able to breathe for longer and hence large lungs do this but also prevent it from submerging. So, what will counteract the buoyancy? Answer: its legs are dense bone all the way through with no hollow marrow-filled cavity just like the weight belt of a scuba diver. Thus heavy bones act as a ballast helping the hippo to sink.
The paler brown female incubates the eggs by day and blends in like a rock and the black-feathered male by night which blends in with the cover of darkness. One ostrich egg is equivalent to 24 chicken eggs.
Lions are the largest African carnivore and the only social cat in the African bushveld. Unique to the Carnivores are the carnassial teeth (i.e. fourth upper premolar and first lower molar)-these are flattened laterally and work against each other, allowing a scissor-like blade action used to cut meat and sinew. The black behind a lions ears and the black tip at the end of the tail are classic ‘follow-me” signs, exactly at the perfect height for a cub to follow its mother through long grass. The black behind the ears is obvious from the rear and yet from the front it is non-existent and thereby does not interfere with the hunting since the lion remains completely camouflaged. Males will take over a carcass even to the detriment of the lionesses and the cubs. Moral lesson-our decisions in life should not be one-sided i.e. for our sole benefit. We should consider the impact of our decisions and make them with everyone’s benefit in mind.
When a bushbuck walks its hind legs step into the track of where the front feet have just been-this is called registering. This allows for walking silently.
When in flight, the reedbuck raises its tail to show the white scut (this is the fluffy white underside) which provides a very prominent image especially in dense bush for young to follow. The white tail also acts as flash colouration-it attracts the predator’s attention when pursuing the prey but will struggle to relocate its prey when the antelope stops and drops its tail.
After birth, within an average of 6 minutes, the calf is on its feet and therefore begins to suckle. Each mother recognises her own calf by scent alone.
Black wildebeest (white-tailed gnu)
its dark, thick coat apparently insulates it better against both cold and heat.
it has a dorsal skin fold that contains white hair which can be erected when sufficiently excited as an anti-predator behaviour during stotting/pronking (this is a unique but peculiar behaviour during which the back is bowed, the tail is clamped, the neck is lowered and the straightened legs are bunched). This fold is what creates the beautiful white line in the centre of the tallis and tefillin bags. In days gone by springbuck used to migrate in huge numbers between the Highveld in the dry season and the Karoo in the wet season just as we find in the Serengeti in East Africa today. A galloping springbuck has been clocked at 88kph (55mph).
I have personally witnessed a dominance display behaviour called lateral presentation. The male with the greater physical impressiveness will determine superiority. They parade head to tail around each other with legs lifted slowly in an exaggerated high-step walk and the mane along the neck is raised which enhances the size of the animal. It is very humorous to watch. The tail is lifted over the rump to expose the white underside and the horns either raised or lowered depending on circumstances. The animal whom is intimidated and breaks off the show by showing submissiveness by lowering his crest and tail and beginning to feed is the loser and the winner has access to the oestrus cows.