Wildlife (Game) Introduction
The term wildlife, sometimes also called ‘game’, refers to mammals, birds, fish and reptiles that can be found in the wild. Africa has its “‘lion’s” share of wildlife and here we take a quick look at some of the most important and / or obvious animals in the African wildlife.
The reason for loosely calling wild life ‘Game’ is said to have come from the culture of animal hunting by the early day English Aristocracy who called it ‘Gaming’.
Best known are the mammals, and the best known of these are the famous Big Five: elephant, lion, rhino, leopard and buffalo. Not that giraffe, hippo or whale are small…
So to begin where most people begin: The South African bushveld and savannah regions are still home to large numbers of the mammals universally associated with Africa. The Kruger National Park (KNP) alone has about 12 000 elephants and 27 000 buffaloes. In 1920 there were an estimated 120 elephants left in the whole of South Africa.
The white rhino has also been brought back from the brink of extinction and now flourishes with a population of 4 600 in Kruger National Park and around 2000 in Hluhluwe Imfolozi Park in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) where the breeding programme was initiated. ImageAttention now is on protecting the black rhino, of which the latter park has 370 and the KNP around 350 in 2003. 58% of the population counted in 2000 were calves less than a year old, suggesting a healthy growth in numbers.
Both these parks are home to all of the Big Five, as are other major reserves – such as Pilanesberg in North West – and smaller reserves and private game lodges.