Have you spotted the Elephant Seals along the Cape coastline? There are a few different species of seals that can be found along the South African coast. The charismatic and playful Cape Fur Seal is by far the most popular and commonly seen seal species. These ocean locals are frequently spotted along the Cape Peninsula and False Bay coastline. However, Sub Antarctic fur seals, Leopard seals and Southern Elephant seals can also be seen from time to time along the South African coast.

ABOUT ELEPHANT SEALS

Elephant Seals in Cape Town

There are two types of Elephant Seals, namely the Southern Elephant Seal (Mirounga leonine) and the Northern Elephant Seal (Mirounga angustirostris). The Southern Elephant Seal is considered the largest seal species in the world.

The male Elephant Seal measures approximately 6m in length and weighs up to 3.7 tons. They are estimated to be up to 10 times bigger than their female counterparts. The Elephant Seal gets its name from its unmistakable swollen, proboscis-like snout of the male, which is used to produce very loud roars, especially during breeding season. Female Elephant Seals are drab brown in colour and lacks the proboscis. They are also chubby in appearance compared to the male Elephant Seals. Elephant Seals feed mostly on Squid, fish, sharks, rays, ratfish, molluscs, crustaceans, krill, and algae.

Southern Elephant Seals primarily breed on main land sites and islands stretching from the Antarctic continent to Patagonia. They can typically be found swimming around the sub-Antarctic islands about 2000 kilometres south of South Africa. These majestic and fascinating ocean beings typically haul out twice a year to moult, mate and give birth. While they prefer gradually sloped, sandy or pebbled beaches, they have also been spotted on boulders and rocky shores. Southern Elephant Seals are known to find a beach somewhere between Antarctica and South Africa on which to moult.

ELEPHANT SEALS IN CAPE TOWN

The Prince Edwards Island and the Tristan da Cunha group are the two closest colonies of Elephant Seals to the South African coastline. Elephant Seals are extremely rare in Cape Town. However, a few stragglers find their way to South Africa each year and join the Cape Fur Seal colonies. There are roughly around 10 sightings a year of this species on our coastline.

Two Elephant Seals in particular have made themselves right at home in the Cape. So much so that they have captured the hearts of countless Cape Town locals and even earned themselves their very own names. Solo is a charming Elephant Seal that resides in Plettenberg Bay and Buffel is a regular in the Cape waters and loves to explore various regions of Cape Town.

Buffel the Elephant Seal

Elephant Seals in Cape Town - Buffel

Photo credit: Laurie Mulrine

Buffel, as the seal is affectionately known to locals, has fast become somewhat of a Cape Town celebrity in his own right, and this year Cape Town’s favourite seal is back on our shores for his annual moult.

**Note: What is moulting? Moulting is a process during which Elephant Seals shed a layer of their skin and hair. The moulting process takes approximately 4 weeks/1 month. This is done to maintain healthy skin and is an adaptation to their extended deep, cold dives. During their deep dives, Elephant Seals limit the blood flow to their skin and extremities. Most of the blood flow is sent to their brain and core organs. In order for Elephant Seals to maintain a healthy pelt, they have developed a strategy which includes spending a month on a beach, in order to allow blood to circulate continuously past the skin, while ensuring that there isn’t excessive loss of body heat. During the moulting process Elephant Seals spend a large portion of their time on the beach or buried in the sand. Their old skin becomes incredibly itchy and they typically don’t swim, mate, or eat. They simply survive on their large amounts of stored body fat. Elephant Seals are particularly vulnerable during this time, and visitors and residents are advised to steer clear of these marine animals as they undergo the process of moulting.

Buffel is a 1200+kg male Southern Elephant Seal that is said to have arrived in Cape Town in 2014. Since gracing the Cape coastline with his presence he has been showing up at various beaches around the Western Cape. In 2019, Buffel was often found lazing around Fish Hoek Beach along the False Bay coastline where he made himself a nesting area in the popular stretch.

He was also frequently spotted on the famous Duiker Island in Hout Bay, where, along with his fellow Duiker Island co-inhabitants the Cape Fur Seals, he spent most of his time sun-bathing on the rocks, taking an occasional dip in the ocean to cool off or lying in the warm sand. Visitors and spectators watched in awe as Buffel shifted and swirled around in the sand using his flippers to throw sand over his body as protection against the hot Cape Town sun. Buffel can now be spotted at Buffels Bay in Cape Point.

No one really knows why Buffel has chosen to grace Cape Town with his incredible presence, yet we are tremendously thrilled to welcome him back to our shores year after year. Over the years he has become very relaxed in his surroundings, even with the higher number of people around. Buffel’s laid-back and relaxed attitude gives visitors the unique opportunity to witness this fascinating and amazing ocean being in all his glory, provided they stay well behind the erected barriers. It is incredibly important to be very respectful of his surroundings.

Solo the Elephant Seal

Solo The Elephant Seal Plettenberg Bay

Photo by Clyde Thomas

Solo is an enormous Elephant Seal male who resides with the Cape Fur Seal colony on the Robberg Peninsula in Plettenberg Bay. Although several Elephant Seals have been recorded in Plettenberg Bay over the past 10 – 15 years, Solo is the most recent Elephant Seal inhabitant and is believed to have arrived in Plettenberg Bay in 2011. Since then, he has been returning to the Robberg Peninsula on a yearly basis. It appears that he arrives shortly after moulting and remains in Plettenberg Bay for several months thereafter. Solo can often be seen sleeping on the mountain baking in the glorious Cape sun, or entertaining guests visiting the Robberg Peninsula by splashing in the water and showing of its beautiful nature and cool tricks and twirls.

Solo Elephant Seal Plettenberg Bay

Photo by Clyde Thomas

If you do decide to go and experience this rare sighting of an Elephant Seal in Cape Town, we urge you to be extremely respectful of their surroundings and stay behind the cordened area. As you’d typically need to travel to the Antarctic or sub-Antarctic to see a seal like this, seeing a magnificent Elephant Seal in Cape Town is something truly remarkable and a once-in-a-lifetime experience you won’t soon forget.

FASCINATING FACTS ABOUT ELEPHANST SEALS

Elephant Seals in Cape Town

  • Elephants Seals are the deepest divers of the seal world and are beaten only by some whale species amongst all marine mammals.
  • They are the largest species of Pinniped on the planet. At full size, Elephant Seals can weigh a maximum of 5000 kg’s and be 6.8m long.
  • Southern elephant seals can travel up to 33,800 km per year – This is the longest known migration for any mammal.
  • They are among the seal species that can stay on land for the longest periods of time. This is mainly owed to the fact that they can stay dry for several consecutive weeks each year.
  • Southern Elephant Seals can dive at depths of 400 to 1,000 m for more than 20 minutes to hunt squid and fish. Southern Elephant Seals are the deepest diving air-breathing non-cetaceans and have been recorded at a maximum of 2,133 m in depth.
  • Southern Elephant Seals spend almost 90% of their lives in the water.
  • The trunk-like nose of Elephant Seals serves two main purposes: Males use the proboscis to generate loud roars to fend off other males, especially during breeding season. Secondly, both male and female Elephant Seals use their trunk-like nose to re-absorb moisture during their mating fasts.
  • Elephant Seal males can weigh up to 10 times more than what their female counterparts weigh. This is the greatest weight disparity between sexes of any mammal.

The ‘Bushman Trail’ is situated in the south-western corner of the Kruger National Park.

A typical walk moves through grassy valleys that are flanked by rolling hills. The crests of these hills are crowned by piles of massive, rounded, blocky, boulders. It is difficult to walk at any pace here as you are tempted to stop and search these huge granite rockeries with your binoculars. They appear to be the perfect hangout for klipspringers, baboons, and leopards. If you look carefully you will see the first two. Leopards are more elusive. However, even if you do not see them, the setting creates an expectation that the cat lives here and will appear at any moment.

South Africa is home to a wide variety of edible indigenous plants. The Botanical Society of South Africa is responsible for encouraging indigenous gardening, conservation awareness, and the proper use of indigenous plants in Southern Africa.

Planting some of these edible delights in your garden will give you easy access to fresh ingredients. If you want to use these ingredients in the kitchen, it is important to know what part of the plant can be used for cooking and how it can be prepared because some of them are only edible after certain preparation and in certain seasons.

Spice up your recipes with these these garden-fresh ingredients. Here is a list of 12 Edible Indigenous South African Plants for you to experiment with.

Wild Garlic (Tulbaghia Violacea)

This edible plant is great if you love making a lot of stews and roasts. It will also add a burst of colour to your garden. The plant shoots out striking purple flowers on top. In addition, the plant can be used in various ways:

  • The leaves can be used as a substitute for spinach.
  • It can help with fighting esophageal cancer and sinus headaches.
  • The bulbs on the plant can be used as a substitute for regular garlic.
  • The plant can be used to ward off fleas, ticks, snakes and mosquitoes.

Confetti Bush (Coleonema Pulchellum)

This herb can be used to add more than just flavour to your cooking, it also adds a sweet aroma. Traditionally used as a deodorizer, the Confetti Bush can be used in any savoury or sweet dishes — strip the little leaves from the stems as you would with thyme.

Also known as False Buchu, this pretty little shrub grows up to one meter or even more in width and height. They also grow faster and healthier when placed in a little bit of compost, drained soil, and when under a lot of sunlight. Take note that a bark or a mulch of compost will keep the shallow root system cool, which is very beneficial to the growth of the plant.

Garlic Buchu (Agathosma Apiculata)

This edible plant is superb for those home chefs who love experimenting with infused oils and making vinegar. The Garlic Buchu is a densely leafy shrub, which forms a single stem from the base and grows into an upright and bushy shrub.

12 Edible Indigenous South African Plants - Confetti Bush

The branchlets are covered with many finer hairs. The younger stems are usually light brown but eventually turn into a darker colour as they start to mature with white flowers that sprout from the tip of the stems.

When any part of this plant is touched, it releases a powerful garlic scent, which is how it got its name. Since the plant is jam-packed with natural essential oils, the oils in the leaves are used to manufacture various cosmetics, medicines, and food colourants. You can also munch on the leaves to get a quick fix of its organic healing remedies.

African Wormwood (Artemesia Afra)

The African Wormwood is known for its strong flavour, which is why it’s widely used in a lot of cocktails, iced teas, and herbal drinks. This plant grows in clumps, with woody and ridged stems reaching up to 0.5 meters to 2 meters in height. The leaves are soft in texture with dark coloured green leaves, similar to the shape of a fern.

12 Edible Indigenous South African Plants - African Wormwood

This plant blooms late in the summer, and produces butter coloured flowers. The African Wormwood releases a sweet, pungent smell when crushed or bruised. Aside from it being used for cocktails, it can also treat colds, flu, fever, asthma, coughs, sore throats, headaches, and pneumonia.

Crushed leaves can be used as a poultice for wounds and sores, while rolled up fresh leaves can be inserted in the ear for a quick earache remedy.

Wild Sorrel (Oxalis Pes-Caprae)

Also known as the Bermuda Buttercup, Cape Sorrel, English Weed, Goat’s Foot, Sourgrass, Soursob, and Buttercup Oxalis. This effervescent yellow plant can also be found all over California. The good news is, the entire plant is edible and tastes a little bit like lemon, which makes it a great addition to fresh salad ingredients.

Wood Sorrel - 12 EDIBLE INDIGENOUS SOUTH AFRICAN PLANTS

Technically, this plant is considered a weed so it will spread like wild fire in your garden if not maintained properly. It has a reputation for being hard to eliminate once it has taken over an area of land. Although it is difficult to maintain, it  will still make a wonderful edition to your garden.

Take note that the plant is sour because of the oxalic acid present in the petals, so it’s best not to eat too much of it as it can be hazardous to your health when taken in large quantities.

Num-Num (Carissa Macrocarpa)

The Carissa Macrocarpa is a shrub commonly known in South Africa as the Natal Plum or the Num-Num. The berries are what makes this plant unique, and why it was given the interesting nickname. It’s full of delightful flavours, which is why it is used for making jams. The berries can be eaten raw and taste a little like cranberries.

For better growth, the plant should be exposed to salty wind or planted in a coastal area. Other than the fruit that grows from the plant, some have claimed that the plant itself is actually poisonous to humans and dogs. The berries can also be used to improve nutrition, and is very rich in Vitamin C.

Balderjan (Mentha Longifolia)

Otherwise known as Horsemint, the Balderjan is known for its peppermint aroma. You can use this plant as an alternative to mint leaves. You can add it to raw or fruity salads for an interesting blend of flavours, or mix up a batch of homemade syrups with it. Like all other mint leaves, the Balderjan has a creeping rhizome, with creeping erect stems 40 to 120 cm tall. The flowers are 3 to 5 mm long, purplish in color or white on tall-branched spikes.

This plant will grow well and thrive in damp areas like marshes. It has been known to help alleviate a number of health issues like asthma, respiratory ailments, and colic stomachs. It can also help with stinky breath, teeth whitening, a stuffy nose, and dandruff.

Sour Figs (Carpobrotus Edulis)

Also known as the Hottentot-fig, Highway Ice Plant, or the Pig Face. The Sour Fig is a creeping, succulent, mat-forming species. Although it is loved in South Africa, other parts of the world consider this plant as invasive especially in Australia, California and the Mediterranean, which all have very similar climates as the Cape.

At the top of it’s moist leaves sprout bright flowers which make it a pretty sight to enjoy in your garden. There are approximately 30 species of this plant and it grows delicious fruits that are excellent for homemade jams. The leaves are also used to cure a number of health related issues like sores. The juice from the leaves can be used as an antiseptic, or can be consumed for treating a sore throat and stomach issues.

Many-Petalled Jasmine (Jasminum Multipartritum)

Also known as the Starry Wild Jasmine or the Imfohlafohlane. It is a crawler and can grow in areas where there is a lot of sunlight or semi-shade. The plant produces a lot of white, star shaped flowers that are scented like a perfume.

The flower that grows from this plant is used for different teas as a flavouring, salad ingredients, and it can also be used for baking and potpourri. If you are looking to impress your dinner guests, the flowers make a nice garnish on top of a mouth watering dish. But it can discolour easily, so it has to be used quickly and fresh.

Aromatic Sage (Salvia Africana)

The Aromatic Sage is a aromatic heavy-branched shrub that is native to the Cape provinces, along the coast of South Africa. This plant can be found on rock hills and coastal dunes. It can grow up to 60 to 90 cm, with grayish round stems covered with hairs. When touched, the plant releases a strong scent.

Aromatic Sage - 12 EDIBLE INDIGENOUS SOUTH AFRICAN PLANTS

A delectable herb to use in the kitchen. It works well with pasta, vegetable dishes, sauces, roasts, stews, and chicken. When eaten alone it is quite bitter, so only add a little bit of this herb into your dishes to add a dash of interesting flavour. To get rid of some of the bitterness, you can dry the leaves and store it inside a glass jar or you can add a little salt to the mix. If you are feeling creative, you can use the flowers as a garnish on your salads.

Wild Malva (Pelargonium Culullatum)

Otherwise known as Hooded Leaf Pelargonium, but more commonly called the Wild Malva. It is a species of plant from the Geraniaceae family. In the summer, this attractive plant produces masses of purple and pink flowers, which has been used to create a number of Pelargonium hybrids.

The Wild Malva is a fast growing shrub, which can reach up to heights of over a meter. The leaves grow in an upward direction and forms circular bowls with red tipped edges. The flower gives off a natural sweet scent.

When diffused, the leaves of this plant turn into a tea which can be used to treat stomach issues, while the crushed leaves turn into a poultice to treat sores and wounds. The leaves can also be used to treat earache when inserted into the ear. But be careful to not insert it too deep.

Aside from being a remedy for internal health related issues, the leaves can also be used to create a relaxing and fragrant bath to relieve tired muscles. Or add joy to your taste buds when making a salad or baked goods.

Tassel Berry (Antidesma Venosum)

The Tassel Berry is a shrub-like tree that grows up to 4 m tall with a roundish crown. The old stems are buffy grey in colour, while the smaller branches are scattered with brown pale grey lenticels with hairy twigs. The fruits are edible but not easily digested and taste slightly acidic and sweet, similar to mulberries. This plant is very decorative and is a great addition to your garden.

Berry - 12 EDIBLE INDIGENOUS SOUTH AFRICAN PLANTS

The Tassel Berry also has a number of other uses:

  • The wood of the plant can be used for building huts and fuel.
  • The fruits, bark, and leaves can help cure stomach issues
  • The roots have been said to be toxic to humans, but if you include the roots of the Tassel Berry plant into your bath it will help cure bodily aches and pains.

The wildebeest, also known as the Antelope of the African plains, is a mammal that lives all over the eastern, southern, and central parts of Africa. They are also called the gnu, which is sometimes referred to as the “fool of the veld” or the “poor man’s buffalo.” These marvelous, rugged, and graceful creatures prefer to hang out in grassy plains or wide open spaces. Every year many wildebeest take part in the great migration through the Serengeti, across Northern Tanzania and Kenya.

Secret Africa - Five Fun Facts about Wildebeest

There’s more to this animal than meets the eye and we are prepared to feed your curiosity more with a bunch of fun facts! Here are five awesome fun facts about wildebeest.

Fun Fact #1: Wildebeest are Playful and Intelligent Animals

Wildebeest are one of the bravest animals in Africa. They are always moving and never stay in one place for too long. Wildebeest like to graze around during the day or night. They also like taking naps, while some keep watch for potential predators.

Fun Fact # 2: There are Two Species of Wildebeest

There are two species of these magnificent animals — the black wildebeest, and the more common blue wildebeest.  The black wildebeest or otherwise known as the white tailed gnu has a long white, horse-like tail. It also has a dark brown to black coat and long, dark, coloured hair found under its belly and forelegs.

The blue wildebeest is also known as the white bearded wildebeest. Another name for it is the brindled gnu and it’s considered a large antelope. The blue wildebeest has broad shoulders, muscular chest, and a distinctive muzzle.

Fun Fact # 3: They live in Huge Herds

Wildebeest like to live in large herds, with adults of both sexes and their offspring. Life in the herd allows all members to feel protected against potential threats. So, when they are asleep or taking a nap during the day, some wildebeest keep watch.

Fun Fact #4: Wildebeest are Feisty Lovers

Wildebeest reproduce quickly and produce about 150 offspring every spring season. The herd is segregated into several smaller groups. Some of the most dominant males in the group perform elaborate mating rituals to impress all the females. Male wildebeest are referred to as the “clowns of the savannah.” This is because they perform many weird antics while trying to impress the females.

Five Fun Facts about Wildebeest

They attract their mates by rubbing their scent into the ground, or urinate and defecate to mark their breeding territory. This also keeps other male wildebeest away.

Fun Fact #5: Pregnancy Ends with a Single Baby

When female wildebeest get pregnant, their pregnancies last for 8.5 months. They give birth in the middle of the herd. 80% of calves are born 2 to 3 weeks before the rainy season.

Calves can walk very soon after being born. And just a few days after birth, they start running with the rest of the herd. During their first few months, they will suckle milk from their mothers. Their diets are milk based with grass 10 days after birth.

Africa is home to many beautiful wild animals, stunning scenery, and all kinds of interesting things. The Baobab is the real representation of life in the African plains. This giant, strange looking tree grows in low-lying areas all over Africa, Madagascar, and Australia.

The Baobab has nine different species. It belongs to the genus Adansonia cluster of trees. There are only two species native to the African mainland, which are the Adansonia Digitata and the Adansonia Kilima. Six of the other species can be located in Madagascar and another in Australia.

The baobab tree can grow to enormous sizes and can live up to 3,000 years. They go by many nicknames as well which include boab, boaboa, tabaldi, monkey bread, upside down tree, bottle tree, and dead rat tree, to name a few.

It’s definitely the symbol of the African jungle. To feed your curiosity about this giant tree, here are some quick fun facts about the Baobab tree.

The Baobab Tree is also known as the Tree of Life

This massive tree is also known as the tree of life, because it has many useful properties. It acts like a huge succulent and its trunk is packed with up to 80% water. San Bushmen used to rely on these trees for water when the rivers started to run dry and when there was no rain.  One baobab tree contains 4,500 liters (or 1,189 gallons) of water. The center of the tree can also give people shelter.

Secret Africa, Fun Facts about the Baobab Tree

The bark and inner parts of the tree is soft, fibrous, and resistant to fire. It can be used to weave clothes and rope. Other parts of the baobab can also be used to make rubber, soap, and glue. The leaves and part of the bark is used in traditional medicine. It’s also a source of life for African wildlife. It provides food and shelter for a variety of species, from the tiniest insects to some of the biggest animals in Africa like the elephant.

It has a Nutritious Super Fruit

The baobab tree has a unique fruit that resembles an oblong velvet covered gourd. The fruit has big black seeds and it has a slightly powdery tart pulp in the center. There are a lot of health benefits that you can gain from eating the fruit and leaves. The young leaves can be an alternative to spinach, while the pulp of the fruit can be soaked and blended into a drink.

The baobab fruit is a super fruit thanks to its high levels of potassium, iron, vitamin C and calcium. According to some reports, the pulp has ten times the amount of vitamin C as oranges. It’s recommended for weight loss, skin elasticity, and contains 50% more calcium that spinach. It can also help the health of your cardiovascular system.

There are many Stories and Legends

When it comes to the baobab tree, there are tons of traditions and legends. The African tribes believe that the baobab tree once grew upright. Because it considered itself to be better than all the other trees, the gods decided to teach it a lesson. To stop its boasting, the gods uprooted it and planted the tree upside down to teach it humility.

Secret Africa, Fun Facts about the Baobab Tree

Specific trees in other parts of Africa also have stories attached to them. Zambia’s Kafue National Park is home to one particularly large tree. The locals refer to it as the Kondanamwali or “the tree that eats damsels”.  According to the legend, the tree fell in love with four local women, who rejected the tree and instead chose to look for human husbands. As a form of revenge, the tree pulled the ladies into its bark and kept them there forever.

The rhino is the second largest among all land mammals. Unlike the elephant, it’s considered one of the most aggressive. However, despite its status as being one of the biggest bullies on the African planes when it comes to humans, rhinos are incredibly vulnerable.

These amazing animals are threatened by poaching and habitat loss. Conservationists are putting in their best effort to save them from extinction. There are many things to love about rhinos, and finding out even more information about them will give you more to appreciate.

Secret Africa - Five Interesting Facts about Rhinos

Here are five interesting facts about rhinos, nature’s knight in shining armor.

Rhinos are Thick Skinned

A rhino’s skin is relatively sensitive, this is why it has a lot of layers. It’s like wrapping yourself in a bunch of soft blankets when you’re feeling very cold.

One layer will not really do much to protect you from the cold, but thick layers of blanket can keep you warm with protective padding. The same goes for the rhino, it has layers of skin to keep it protected.

There are Five Species of Rhino

Our planet is home to five different species of rhino. There’s the White Rhino and the Black Rhino which are both found in Africa, the Sumatran Rhino found in India (also known as the Greater One Horned Rhino), and the Javan Rhino which can be found in swamps and tropical forests around Asia.

Secret Africa,Five Interesting Facts about Rhinos

They are Considered one of the Largest Animals in the World

The rhino is considered one of the biggest mammals in the world. The biggest among the five species is the White Rhino, which can grow up to 1.8m high and weigh 2 500kg.

Rhinos Love Mud

When it’s very hot and the sun is at its highest, rhinos can be found under the shade sleeping or wallowing in a muddy pool to cool off. They love mud, and can spend almost the entire day in it! The mud protects their skin from the sun and prevents irritation – kind of like a natural sunblock. It also wards off unwanted bugs that might land on their skin.

Rhinos don’t like being Social

Rhinos are not very sociable animals; most of them prefer to spend their time alone and try to avoid one another.  However, the white rhino lives in a group which is called a “crash.” These groups are usually made up of a group of white rhino females, along with her calves. Sometimes adult females, which are called cows, can be seen socializing with each other too.

Rhinos do not have any Enemies

Since rhinos have strong horns, huge bodies and thick skin — no other animal wants to prey on them.

Five Interesting Facts about Rhinos

They do not have any natural predators. However, they get frightened easily. When they feel they are being threatened, their instinct is to directly charge at whatever it is that spooked them – whether it’s an animal or a harmless object. They will do this to humans as well when they feel they are being threatened.

The Number of Rhinos are Slowly Depleting

Sadly, it’s projected that there are only 29,000 rhinos left on our planet. At the beginning of the century, there were a total of 500,000 rhinos. Illegal hunting is the biggest threat to this animal, which is why they are slowly decreasing in number. Their horns are used in traditional folk medicine in Asia, which is why they are so sought-after. Their horns are also sold for various decorative pieces, similar to an elephant’s tusk that is valuable because it is used for ivory.

The Panthera Pardus, better known as the African leopard, is one of the most sophisticated and powerfully built hunters of the African jungle. Among all the other wild big cats, the leopard is arguably one of the most gorgeous because of their unique print. Compared to the tiger, lion, jaguar, and cheetah the leopard is slightly built and smaller compared to the other wild cats in the Panthera family.

Leopards can be found across sub-Sahara Africa and Asia. Their skin colour varies between individuals, ranging from dark golden to pale yellow. Dark spots scarred across its body are grouped into rosettes. The belly is whitish in color and its tail is ringed with dark patches.

Secret Africa - Interesting Facts About Leopards

Leopards found deep in the African bushes and mountains are much darker with a deep golden colour coat. If you have ever wondered what it’s like to see one up close, then these interesting facts about leopards will make you even more curious.

Leopards are Strong Predators

Compared to all the other wild cats, the leopard is considered one of the strongest. They can climb trees while carrying their prey and will often choose to rest on top of tree branches in the middle of the day. The reason why they prefer to eat their prey up in a tree is to ensure that other animals do not steal it, especially lions and hyenas.

Leopards are Fast

The leopard is well known for its agility. They can run up to 58km/h and can leap 3m vertically and 6m horizontally. They don’t mind water and are very resilient swimmers. Leopards can hunt their prey even while they are in the water or take their prey across bodies of water and up a tree where they can eat it in peace.

Leopards are Secretive and like Solitude

As a leopard ages, it eventually becomes more solitary and territorial. They like to roam in one specific area away from other animals, and prefer keeping to themselves most of the time. They will only interact with other leopards when they want to mate. Leopards mark their territories with urine or scratch their claws on tree barks.

Leopards are good at Camouflage

Leopards put their unique spots to good use. The beautiful cream and gold spotted fur helps them blend into their surroundings of trees and other shrubs, to hunt their prey effortlessly. It’s really difficult to spot a leopard in the wild because they blend in so well. Their fur also helps them stay out of sight from other animals up in a tree so they can eat in peace.

A Leopard’s Tail is used for Balance

A leopard’s tail is almost as long as its body. The longer the tail, the better they can balance themselves when climbing a tree. The leopard also has very powerful claws that can help it climb a rough straight cliff just like a human would rock climb.

The Leopard is a Major Carnivore

The leopard prefers medium sized prey with a body mass that ranges from 10 – 40kg. Prey that weigh in this range prefer open areas and these include the bushbuck, sitatunga, impala, chital, sambar deer, thompson’s gazelle, and southern reedbuck, to name a few.

Secret Africa - Interesting Facts About Leopards

Leopards also prey on smaller carnivores like the black backed jackal, genet, and cheetah. They can also kill prey that’s as heavy as 550kg. If there are no other lions or tigers in the area, the leopard can prey on a giraffe. The largest prey that a leopard has ever killed was a male eland weighing in at 900kg.

Leopards are Cats of the Night

Leopards are nocturnal cats. Just like the lion, the leopard likes to hunt their prey at night. Most leopards will hunt their prey starting from dusk till dawn, except for those that can be found in western Africa. Leopards from this part of Africa hunt during twilight and are diurnal.

Female Leopards like to tease Males for Mating

Female leopards have a special game plan when they want to invite a male to mate. The female leaves a scent on the trees in her territory by rubbing her body against them, so that male leopards can reach her by following her scent or hearing her mating call.

Leopards are becoming Endangered to Save Humans

Humans use different body parts of these beautiful animals for medicinal purposes. Since the medicine that includes their body parts are highly effective, they have started to become a vulnerable species. Along with using their body parts to cure some human illnesses, their fur is also used for clothing and decorative ornaments.

Leopards can Resort to Eating Humans

Most leopards avoid humans in general, but occasionally we may actually be targeted as prey. The majority of all healthy leopards would prefer wild prey compared to eating humans. But if they are injured, sickly or struggling in any way and there’s a shortage of prey — they may resort to hunting humans and become accustomed to it.

Man-eating leopards are considered hard to track and become very bold. Although these kinds of situations are very rare, they are still highly capable of killing a human.

At first glance, seaweed might not seem like much. A slimy shrub floating in the water we see at times floating in the ocean, or washed up on the beach. Many people are repulsed by it, refusing to swim with it. Don’t be fooled though, these marine plants are completely harmless and essentially very beneficial to our health in many ways.

Rich in nutrients, seaweed contains many trace minerals and cancer fighting compounds that is said to heal the body and rejuvenate the skin. With the help of scientists, we are learning that seaweed is far more precious than we originally thought.

In fact, a lot of people now are finding different ways to include seaweed in their diets and skin care regiments. Don’t believe the hype? Here are some interesting facts about seaweed that might change your mind.

Seaweeds are not Plants

Seaweed is actually a type of algae not a plant. They have no leaves, stems, or roots to transport water or nutrients. As an alternative however, each cell develops what it needs directly from the seawater around it. The only similarity land plants and seaweed have with one another, is that both rely on sunlight for energy through photosynthesis.

Most of the Oxygen We Breathe comes from Seaweed

You may want to give a silent thank you to seaweed the next time you take a deep breath, because of the glorious oxygen it provides for all of us. Seaweed, kelp, phytoplankton, and algal plankton produce 70% of the air we breathe, which is why they are very important.

Secret Africa, Interesting Facts about Seaweed

Believe it or not, the rain-forest only produces 28% of our oxygen, while the remaining 2% comes from other sources. Surprising, right? This is one of the reasons why we need to protect our oceans and keep them free of pollution.

Seaweed is Used with many Asian Dishes

Interesting Facts about Seaweed, Asian Dishes

Kombu, Nori, and Wakame are all well-known seaweed ingredients used in most Asian countries as an add-on or an actual ingredient in food. Asia consumes around 2 million tons of seaweed every year to use in their complex fusion of culinary dishes. This is why we love seaweed so much, because it is both nutritious and a great snack.

Seaweed can be used in Many Skincare and Healthcare Regiments

Seaweed has been used for many centuries to cure all kinds of illnesses. Seaweed can help cure tuberculosis, prevent obesity, and ovarian cysts. Another good reason why the Japanese are extremely healthy is because they include a lot of natural seaweed in their diets. The ancient Romans used seaweed to treat burns, wounds, and rashes. Today, many hospitals also use seaweed as a form of wound dressing.

Seaweed Comes in Many Shapes and Sizes

Seaweed can come in many shapes and sizes. There are the microscopic micro seaweeds and the large macro seaweeds. The smaller ones are those you can see that are washed up on shore at the beach, while the bigger ones are those you can find covering large rocks or carried to shore by large waves.

Seaweed Has Over 12,000 Species

Seaweed does not refer to just one plant alone but rather it is a common name for many other species of marine plants and algae. There is still no formal term for this though, but seaweed is grouped into three main categories which include brown, red, and green algae.

Interesting Facts about Seaweed - Seaweed Has Over 12,000 Species

It is also considered a super food and can provide your body with many health benefits starting with lowering the risk of breast cancer to fighting off deadly diseases. Seaweed is in reality considered the kale of the ocean and can be used in many different ways to help us become more intentional with our health.

Seaweed Can Make a Great Substitute for Bacon

Have you ever considered becoming a vegetarian? But you’re big fan of bacon and will sorely miss it? You’re in luck then, because seaweed can actually taste like bacon when it is served fried. Not only does it taste wonderful but this unproved strain of seaweed has more nutritional value than kale.

Seaweed is also gluten free, a low carbohydrate, sustainable, and organic. All thanks to seaweed, you can now have a healthier alternative to bacon without the guilt.

Mountain Gorillas are one of the most delightfully friendly and loving animals in the world. While many find them to be extremely ferocious creatures, they are actually the total opposite in nature and can warm up to humans easily compared to other wild animals. They are quite shy, but they are also very smart.

Unfortunately, the species is drastically decreasing in numbers because of the human encroachment and conflicts near their African homes. They are considered an endangered species. Many tourists from all over the world fly to Africa just to get a glimpse of these magnificent creatures. Sadly, they are also sought after by poachers, which make them hard to spot in the wild.

Perhaps the interesting things about them will help spread awareness and make it easier to fall in love with them more. Here are a few interesting facts about mountain gorillas.

Gorillas Share Human DNA

Gorillas are special primates that share 98% of their DNA with humans.

If you have ever seen one up close at a zoo, their intelligence is just extraordinary. This is what makes them interesting too, because they can be taught and can adapt to human activities quite well.

Gorillas Breed Slowly

Female gorillas do not give birth until they reach the age of 10. When they do give birth, their babies have to be watched over and guarded very carefully until they are old enough to fend for themselves.Interesting Facts About Mountain Gorillas

Just like human children, gorillas also take care of their young very proactively and make sure they are protected at all times.

Gorillas have Emotions

One of the most fascinating things about gorillas is the fact that they also have emotions. Believe it or not, gorillas cry when they are sad and can even laugh when they are tickled. Because they are so similar to humans it is easy to spot how they feel.

Gorillas can last without Water

Unlike many other animals gorillas don’t need access to a constant rich source of water like a lake or a stream. They get most of their water from the moisture in the plants they eat or from morning dew.

Facts About Mountain Gorillas

Mountain gorillas actually dislike water in general and try to avoid crossing streams of water. They only become interested in regular water sources during the dry season and when there are only little pools of water. They prefer this to avoid the danger of their infants getting washed away by flowing sources of water.

Gorillas are very Shy and Docile

Gorillas are very shy and docile creatures, and will only react when they are provoked by danger. This counters the popular belief that gorillas are very aggressive and violent creatures.

Gorillas Stay in Families

Gorillas are very social animals that form harems. Just like humans, they are very close with members of their families. Gorilla families can have up to 20 members. One silverback gorilla (dominant male) can live together with several other female gorillas and their offspring. However, 40% of mountain gorilla groups can contain several other adult males that are closely related to each other.

The majority of all gorilla groups contain more females than males, which is why a lot of males are left roaming the forest alone. Mountain gorilla males that are loners will occasionally form an all male group, which varies in size. On average, each group of gorillas can contain up to 10 members.

Want to see Gorillas in the wild? Why not stay in a luxury lodge in Uganda for the ultimate Gorilla trekking experience.

Gorillas get sick like Humans

Gorillas can get sick easily just like humans. They are prone to human sicknesses as well, like pneumonia and other bacterial and viral diseases, when they are exposed to cold and wet climates for long periods of time.

Interesting Facts About Mountain Gorillass

Humans can make gorillas sick by sneezing close them. Gorillas are prone to human respiratory infections and even other sicknesses that can lead to sudden death among mountain gorillas. This is why tourists are advised to stay as far away from them as possible.

Gorillas are “Occasional” Carnivores

Gorillas are very curious animals and enjoy exploring. Although most of them predominantly feed on roots, fruits, and plants, occasionally when they are feeling a bit adventurous, they will engage in hunting small animals. But this happens very seldom.

The lion (Panthera Leo) is part of the big cat family, Felidae. A lion is an animal symbol used by a wide variety of human cultures to depict strength, superiority, courage, and more. The mighty king of the jungle often appears as sculptures, on flags, and in paintings. They also regularly appear in literature and films. Since the Roman Empire, lions were kept in confinement. And till this day they are a highly sought-after species for zoos worldwide.

The lion is a muscular big cat, with a deep chest and a short, rounded head. The male’s majestic mane is unmistakable and both males and females have a cheeky tuft of hair at the end of their tails. The male and female lions are very distinct from each other. A male can weigh between 150 to 250 kg (330 to 550 lb) and females between 120 to 182 kg (265 to 400 lb). And a lion’s roar is an unmistakable sound, echoing over the African savannah. They prefer living in the savannas and grasslands instead of forests.

Lions are mostly active during the day, but sometimes they hunt at night or twilight as well. The lion population has dwindle to Sub-Saharan Africa and they are critically endangered in western India. Since 1996 their population status is Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List. A steady decline of up to 43% has been noticed since the early 90’s. The cause of the population drop is uncertain, but conflicts with humans and habitat loss are the biggest concerns.

Interesting Facts about Lions

The king of the jungle has fascinated people for centuries. Below a few things you might not know about lions.

  • There are about 20 000 lions left in the wild. In 26 African countries they are already extinct. 90% of the lions’ historical roaming grounds have disappeared.
  • At the rate of expansion in Sub-Saharan Africa, it’s estimated that in 2050 lions will be extinct in the wild.
  • A lion’s biggest enemy is surprisingly the porcupine. About the same size as a small dog, a porcupine is literally a thorn in the lion’s flesh. They are often tricked to sniff at the spikey nemesis and the sharp quills often get stuck in a lion’s jaw for its entire life.
  • Lions are the only cat family members with a tasselled tail. These aren’t just for show, they use their fluffy tails as communication tools, either to indicate a direction change, or as a flirty “come hither” invitation.
  • A lion’s claws are super sharp. But they are retractable. This way they remain sharp and it prevents accidents during play time. The claws grow in layers. As a layer reaches its end, another replaces it. A claw can measure up to 4cm (1.5 inches) from the nail base to its tip.
Scary Facts about Lions

Photo by Jonatan Pie on Unsplash

  • The lion’s back teeth (carnassals) have a scissor-like function. This helps them to tackle a fresh piece of meat. But lions don’t really chew food, they swallow chunks from the side of their mouth.
  • Male and female lions have a special way of greeting each other. They rub up against each other, sometimes so enthusiastically, one of them gets knocked over. It’s a sign of bonding, while the lions are rubbing against each other, scent markings are left behind. Sound familiar? Yes, that’s why your cat rubs against your legs.
  • The African lions are rated the most social among their big cat cousins. A pride can consist of up to 15 lions.
  • A male lion’s main job is to defend its pride’s territory. And the females are in charge of hunting. But the males still get to eat first.
  • Before habitat loss, lions lived in Europe and Asia as well. But now most lions stay in Africa. There are only a few Asiatic lions left in the Sasan-Gir National Park, India. It’s estimated that there are only between 300 to 400 lions remaining in the park, which was created specifically to protect them.
Scary Facts about Lions

Photo by Wade Lambert on Unsplash

  • You can hear a lion’s roar up to 8km (5 miles) away.
  • Lions can maintain a speed of 85 km/h (50 mph) for a short distance, and can leap up to 10 m (36 feet)
  • The name “king of the jungle” is misleading, seeing as lions prefer the plains and grasslands. This popular term may stem from the association between jungles and Africa.
  • You can gauge the age of a male lion by looking at its mane. The darker its mane, the older the lion.
  • While it is walking, a lion’s heels don’t touch down on the ground.
  • A lion can sleep up to 20 hours per day.

Read more about the famous Lions of the Sabi Sands, the Notorious Mapogo Lions.