FUN FACTS ABOUT AFRICAN WILDLIFE FOR KIDS!

Giraffes Have Blue Tongues

Did you know that giraffes have dark blue tongues that are around 20 inches long? These long tongues help them browse for the highest and juiciest leaves on their favorite acacia trees. Giraffes also have little knobs on their heads and amazingly long necks. When they drink water, their necks contain special veins and blood valves to prevent them from blacking out. Despite their impressive height, giraffes are quiet animals, so you won’t be startled by loud growling or grunting sounds from them. Baby giraffes drop six feet to the ground when born but manage to stand up just five minutes later. 

Ostriches Can Sprint Over 40 Miles an Hour

Ostriches are the largest birds on Earth, and they can sprint at incredible speeds of up to 43 miles (70 kilometers) an hour. They even use their wings as rudders to change direction while running. Although they are fast runners, it’s safer to stay away from their forward kicks, which can be dangerous. Ostriches are farmed for various purposes, including their eggs, feathers, and meat. In fact, one ostrich egg can easily make an omelet for a dozen hungry people. Their shells are used to make ornaments and necklaces, while their feathers are widely used in costume design. On some ostrich farms, racing events are held, and you can even try riding an ostrich for an exciting experience.

The Vegetarian Hippo Is One of Africa's Most Deadly Animals

Hippos may be herbivores, but they are incredibly dangerous. Male hippos actively defend their territories, and humans tend to get killed by hippos when they stand on a riverbank or beach that a male hippo considers his territory. Females have also been known to get extremely aggressive if they sense anyone coming between their babies, who stay in the water while they feed on the shore. Hippos can run at speeds of over 20 miles an hour, and they have enormous jaws with up to 20-inch canines. Despite their vegetarian diet, hippos consume up to a hundred pounds of vegetation every day, resulting in huge amounts of dung. They are sensitive to the sun and secrete a natural sunscreen that is coloured red and eventually turns brown. The hippo’s closest living relative is the whale. While hippos can swim and stay underwater for up to ten minutes at a time, they cannot jump.

Hyenas Are More Closely Related to Cats Than Dogs

Contrary to popular belief, hyenas are actually more closely related to cats than dogs, and they are even more closely related to meerkats. Hyenas are the most common large carnivores in Africa, and they are true survivalists. They live in clans, with some groups numbering over 70 members. Hyena cubs are most commonly born in twos, and if they are the same sex, they may try to kill each other. They are known as scavengers but also regularly hunt live prey. Hyena dung is white (when dry) because of the large amounts of calcium it consumes when crunching up the bones of its kill. A team of researchers excavating a cave near Johannesburg, South Africa, discovered five human hairs at least 200,000 years old in fossilized hyena dung, thus exceeding the record for the oldest known human hair by more than 190,000 years. There is quite a difference between young spotted hyenas and young striped hyenas. Striped hyenas are born with adult markings, closed eyes, and small ears. Spotted hyenas are born with eyes wide open and teeth intact, ready for action. In hyena clans, larger females dominate the smaller males.

Lions Sleep for 20 Hours a Day

African lions are majestic creatures and a thrilling sight on safari. However, they spend most of their time resting, sleeping for around 20 hours a day on average. Unlike domestic cats, lions do not purr. Did you know that the cute tufts at the ends of their tails only appear around 5 months of age? Lions are known for their powerful roars, which can be heard up to five miles away. They often kill their prey by strangulation or suffocation. Crocodiles are one of the few natural predators of lions, and they occasionally take lion cubs. Lions live in prides, which consist of related females, their offspring, and a few adult males. Male lions have manes, while females do not. Lions are not particularly fond of swimming but can swim if necessary.

An Elephant Calf Often Sucks Its Trunk for Comfort

Elephants are the largest land animals on Earth and can grow to be over 14 feet tall and 30 feet long. They are herbivores and consume up to 375 pounds (170 kilograms) of vegetation every day. Elephants have an incredible memory and can recognize themselves in mirrors, showing signs of self-awareness. They are highly social animals that live in family groups led by a matriarch, an older female elephant. Elephants communicate through low-frequency grumbles and rumbles that can be heard from miles away. They use their trunks, which are a fusion of the nose and upper lip, for various tasks, including eating, drinking, breathing, and grabbing objects. Baby elephants often suck their trunks for comfort, much like human infants suck their thumbs. Elephants are known for their intelligence, emotional depth, and close-knit family bonds. They are also excellent swimmers and can cross rivers and lakes with ease.

Dung Beetles Are Nature's Cleanup Crew

Dung beetles play a vital role in African ecosystems as nature’s cleanup crew. They are known for their unique behavior of rolling and burying balls of animal dung. Female dung beetles lay their eggs inside these dung balls, providing a safe environment and a food source for their offspring. By burying dung, they help with nutrient recycling and soil aeration. Dung beetles have an exceptional sense of smell, which allows them to locate dung from long distances. They come in various shapes and sizes, from small to large, and some species can even navigate by the stars, using the Milky Way as a compass. Observing their behavior is fascinating, as they work together to efficiently process and recycle dung, benefiting the ecosystem as a whole.

Pangolins: The World's Most Trafficked Mammal

Pangolins are unique and fascinating creatures native to Africa and Asia. They are covered in scales made of keratin, which is the same material that forms human hair and nails. When threatened, pangolins roll up into a tight ball, using their scales as armor. Unfortunately, pangolins are currently facing a severe threat—the illegal wildlife trade. They are the world’s most trafficked mammal, hunted for their scales, which are falsely believed to have medicinal properties, and their meat, considered a delicacy in some regions. Pangolins are solitary and nocturnal, feeding primarily on ants and termites. Their long tongues and sticky saliva help them capture insects from inside nests. There are eight known species of pangolins, four in Africa and four in Asia, and all of them are listed as critically endangered or vulnerable. Efforts are being made to protect and conserve these incredible animals and combat illegal poaching and trafficking.

Discover the fascinating world of African wildlife, from the graceful giraffes to the mighty elephants and everything in between!

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