Africas Big Five

The big cats are the four members of the genus panthera. These cats are unique not only in size but in their ability to roar. A specialized larynx and a unique part of the throat called a hyoid apparatus allows for the production of a true, deep roaring sound. While the cougar, cheetah, snow leopard and clouded leopard are also fairly large, and occasionally included in this group, their  larynx creates more of a combination hiss/snarl sound without the bass tone of a real roar. Other differences in the genus panthera involve skull and eye-socket structure and variations in life-cycle and reproductive system. - Africas Big Five

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The African Elephant

African elephant herd Leopards are native to Africa. They are significantly smaller than lions and tigers, and occasionally even fall prey to a hungry lion. The jaguar is native to south and central America, and once roamed the southern United States. Both leopards and jaguars are buff to yellow to orange in color with black or dark brown spots in a classic "rosette" pattern. Black individuals occur fairly regularly, the result of a melanism gene. The spots can still be seen on the black fur as subtle shading. Both black leopards and black jaguars are popularly called black panthers, although they are not a separate species and black individuals will occur side by side in the same litter with normally colored cubs. Leopards and jaguars are difficult to tell apart if the location is unknown The jaguar is generally a stouter animal with a proportionately rounder head, fuller cheeks and smaller eyes and ears. It is sometimes stated that the leopard does not have a dot at the center of the circles of dots on its coat known as "rosettes", or that the center of the rosette on the jaguar is darker than the body color, but both jaguars and leopards vary greatly in this regard and coat pattern is not a reliable means of identification.

The Leopard

leopard Leopards are native to Africa. They are significantly smaller than lions and tigers, and occasionally even fall prey to a hungry lion. The jaguar is native to south and central America, and once roamed the southern United States. Both leopards and jaguars are buff to yellow to orange in color with black or dark brown spots in a classic "rosette" pattern. Black individuals occur fairly regularly, the result of a melanism gene. The spots can still be seen on the black fur as subtle shading. Both black leopards and black jaguars are popularly called black panthers, although they are not a separate species and black individuals will occur side by side in the same litter with normally colored cubs. Leopards and jaguars are difficult to tell apart if the location is unknown The jaguar is generally a stouter animal with a proportionately rounder head, fuller cheeks and smaller eyes and ears. It is sometimes stated that the leopard does not have a dot at the center of the circles of dots on its coat known as "rosettes", or that the center of the rosette on the jaguar is darker than the body color, but both jaguars and leopards vary greatly in this regard and coat pattern is not a reliable means of identification.

The African Lion

Lion Close-upNative to Africa and a tiny portion of India, the lion is the most unique of these cats. Adult male lions display a full

ruff of shaggy hair around their heads known as a mane. This is not just special for a big cat, it is very rare among any mammals to have such obvious physical distinction between the sexes. The lion is also a very social cat with an interesting and complicated pride dynamic. The king of beasts also has the loudest roar of the four roaring "big cats" - naturally!

 

The Rhino

white rhinos Leopards are native to Africa. They are significantly smaller than lions and tigers, and occasionally even fall prey to a hungry lion. The jaguar is native to south and central America, and once roamed the southern United States. Both leopards and jaguars are buff to yellow to orange in color with black or dark brown spots in a classic "rosette" pattern. Black individuals occur fairly regularly, the result of a melanism gene. The spots can still be seen on the black fur as subtle shading. Both black leopards and black jaguars are popularly called black panthers, although they are not a separate species and black individuals will occur side by side in the same litter with normally colored cubs. Leopards and jaguars are difficult to tell apart if the location is unknown The jaguar is generally a stouter animal with a proportionately rounder head, fuller cheeks and smaller eyes and ears. It is sometimes stated that the leopard does not have a dot at the center of the circles of dots on its coat known as "rosettes", or that the center of the rosette on the jaguar is darker than the body color, but both jaguars and leopards vary greatly in this regard and coat pattern is not a reliable means of identification.

A Few More Facts About Africa's Big Five

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