Big Seven Safari
So you’ve not heard of the Big Seven Safari? That’s ok, not many have. So we want to introduce you to the additional two species that take the Big Five headcount to seven. So let’s go!
Cheetah in Africa
Cheetah are officially classified as a vulnerable species and worthy of mention because this creature is truly spectacular to see in the wild.
The cheetah is a predator, the fastest in Africa thanks to its slender, long legged body. It’s body markings are unique with black tear marks under the eyes and running down the sides of the nose to its mouth. It is for a reason – to keep the sun out of its eyes and aid in its hunting efforts. In a stride, the cheetah can cover up to nine metres and almost 4 strides per second that’s fast running. A top speed of 100 kilometres an hour or more is possible in their hunt. Most excitingly, the cheetah is airborne for more than half of every stride.
Cheetah used to be found all over Africa and even the Middle East and Central Asia. These days, they are only found in a handful of countries in Africa (and believe it or not a small population in Iran).
Interestingly, the cheetah social system sees females solitary and not territorial. They can cover home ranges in excess of 3,000 square kilometres. Males are social – the opposite to other cat species. Females raise their cubs solo and teach them survival skills and how to hunt, leaving them alone from around 18m months. Cubs usually remain together for 6 months and then the females head out on their own, males staying together to form coalitions. Cheetah are clever, using places of elevation as vantage points to spot danger. Their sounds are fascinating and vocalisations are like bird chirps, moaning, growling, snarling and hissing. Just like your domestic cat, Cheetahs also purr when they are content.
Wild Dog in Africa
African Wild Dog is an endangered carnivore in Africa. Also called Cape Hunting Dog or Painted Dog, these animals roam the open plains and sparse woodlands of sub-Saharan Africa, the region we specialise in.
Wild dog live in packs with a dominant monogamous breeding pair and an alpha female. A female dog can have a litter of up to 20 pups and they follow the adage ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ as the pack care for the pups.
Social creatures, wild dog share food, help the sick amongst them and are affectionate with touch, licks and vocalisations.
Don’t be fooled though, the wild dog pack is the most aggressive hunting machine. Opportunistic predators, the pack moves in military formation with a lead dog, flanks and rear dogs. Moving at a fast pace, up to 44 miles per hour, the dogs strike their prey quickly. It’s brutal to watch as the victim is torn apart and devoured literally within a few minutes.
Major threats to the Wild Dog are loss of habitat, viral disease like rabies, targeted killings by humans (due to conflict) and competition with the cats, particularly lion.
Seeing Cheetah and wild dog in the wild can be tricky because they are wild creatures with families to protect, predators to avoid and hunting to be done.
We’ve pinned some of our favourite safari holiday settings here where you could potentially see cheetah and wild dog in their natural habitat.
Cheetah and Wild Dog safari ready?Get in Touch
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