Thursday, 25 April 2019

What animal am I? -> ZEBRA

We are starting a new weekly animal in depth series...clues during the week -> featured animal revealed on Thursdays.
Yes, you got it right, this weeks featured animal is the ZEBRA.
  • Clue 1: let me be-DAZZLE you -> A group of zebras are referred to as a herd, DAZZLE, or zeal.
  • Clue 2: I am not fat… I might just look like it! -> This is due to their bloated stomachs filled with bacteria helping to digest all the grass they eat. This fermentation produces a lot of gas and will bloat their stomach, giving them a well-nourished appearance.

There are three different species of zebra in Africa, the Plains Zebra, Grevy’s Zebra and Mountain Zebra united by their distinctive black-and-white striped coats. Their stripes come in different patterns, unique to each individual (like our fingerprints). They are generally social animals that live in small harems to large herds. Unlike their closest relatives, horses and donkeys, zebras have never been truly domesticated due to their stubborn nature.

The most common zebras we see on our Epic Enabled safaris are the Burchell’s Zebra which is a southern subspecies of the Plains Zebra. It is named after the British explorer and naturalist William John Burchell. 

Burchell’s Zebra:
Lifespan: 20 – 30 years (in the wild), up to 40 years in captivity (Zoos)
Speed: 65 km/h
Scientific name: Equus quagga burchellii
Mass: 200 - 280kg (adult)
Height: 110cm to 140cm at shoulder
Body length: 2.2-2.5m

Did you know:

Habitat: They occur in a variety of habitats, such as grasslands, savannas, woodlands, thorny scrublands, mountains, and coastal hills. Various anthropogenic factors have had a severe impact on zebra populations, in particular hunting for skins and habitat destruction. Grévy's zebra and the mountain zebra are endangered. While plains zebras are much more plentiful, one subspecies, the quagga, became extinct in the late 19th century.

Quagga: A South African zebra, extinct since 1883, that had a yellowish-brown coat with only the front half of their bodies covered with darker stripes.

Dazzle: A group of zebras are referred to as a herd, dazzle, or zeal.
Meaning of Dazzle: brightness that blinds someone temporarily...(synonyms: brightness, brilliance, glow, flash, shimmer, radiance, shine, flare, glare, blaze)

Stripes: Why do zebras have stripes? Scientists are not entirely sure and there are multiple theories.
1)   Their stripes serve to dazzle and confuse predators making it difficult to distinguish one individual in the blur.
2)   Control the animal’s body heat because air moves at different speeds over light-absorbing black stripes and light-reflecting white stripes, so the zebra creates its own cooling air currents.
3)   Each individual’s stripes are unique, their stripes may also have a social purpose, helping zebras to recognize individual
4)   New studies also show that it reduced biting insects landing on their confusing/bury patterns. Thus, avoiding fly & insect related illnesses common to horses.

Food: Zebras are herbivores and spend most of their day eating grass, leaves, shrubs twigs and bark. Their teeth are well adapted for grazing, with sharp incisors at the front of their mouth to bite the grass, and large molars at the back for crushing and grinding.
They are constantly on the move for fresh grasslands & water. They travel thousands of kilometres in search of green pastures.

Well-nourished appearance: You will never see a slim Zebra, they always appear “fat”. This is due to their bloated stomachs filled with bacteria helping to digest all the grass they eat. This fermentation produces a lot of gas and will bloat their stomach, giving them a well-nourished appearance.
Even when a zebra is sick it will still appear fat. You can differentiate a healthy to sick zebra by their manes. They have a strip of fat below their manes and if they are in good condition their mane will stand up straight, but as they become sick they will use this fat reserve and the mane will start to flop over.

Posing for the Camera:  Some of the most popular Zebra photos are when they stand next to each other, but facing away from one another and resting their head on each others back. They are not only watching each others backs but also using each others tails as a fly swatter for their faces.

Alfie’s trick-question: Are male zebras black with white stripes and females are white with black stripes or other way around? … When you first hear this statement on tour, you will take a minute to think about it 😉
Zebras are mostly covered in white fur and striped with black, but underneath their coat the skin is black.

Fierce: As elegant and peaceful as they are, zebras can be aggressive animals and are very protective of their family! Stallions fight for females with piercing bites and powerful kicks that are strong enough to cause serious damage – and sometimes even kill! Their fierce fighting skills, powerful kicks and strong social bonds help to protect zebras from predators, which include lions, leopards, hyenas and cheetahs. And if one of the group is wounded or injured, other zebras will circle around and attempt to drive off the hungry attacker. All for one and one for all!

Friday, 19 April 2019

Happy Easter

The most important things in life aren’t things...

Happy Easter 
     from all of us @ Epic Enabled & Epic Guest House

Monday, 15 April 2019


King of the .... Bush (LIONS don't actually live in the Jungle 😉)

The LION is probably the most recognizable and best known species in the family Felidae; it is a muscular, deep-chested cat with a short, rounded head, a reduced neck and round ears, and a hairy tuft at the end of its tail. Largest Cat in Africa.

Lifespan: 10 – 14 years (adult, in the wild)
Speed: 80 km/h (max, in short bursts)
Scientific name: Panthera leo
Mass: Male adult; 150kg – 250kg, Female adult; 120kg – 185kg
Height: Male: 121cm at shoulder, Female at shoulder: 110cm at shoulder

Did you know: 

A Complex Social Structure: Unlike other cats, lions are very social animals. They live in groups, called prides. A pride consists of multiple related females and their dependent offspring along with 1 - 3 unrelated males. A typical pride has about 15 members, although some prides as large as 40 members have been observed. The size of the pride is determined by the availability of food and water.

Male lions are the only big cat species with manes.

Biggest Cat in Africa, but only second largest cat in the world: A male lion weighs about 225kg and grows to 244cm in length. It sounds impressive, but tigers are actually larger, reaching 385kg and 335cm long

Territory: They inhabit grasslands and plains where female lions typically hunt together in groups, preying mostly on large mammals although they scavenge when opportunities occur.
Contrary to popular believes, male lions also can and will hunt very successfully when necessary, however if the males are part of a pride (not solitude nomads) they normally stay home and watch over the pride, defending their territory from other rival prides or predators. The males, however, are first to eat when the female lions come back with their kill.

Female bond: Female lions, sisters, live together for life. Their female cubs also stay with the pride, even after they’re grown, but male cubs must venture out on their own once they reach maturity

Majestic Manes: Male lions have majestic manes that make them appear larger and more intimidating. This is primarily a great layer of protection around their necks in fierce territorial fights. Female lions are also attracted to fuller, thicker manes.

Lion Roar: A male lion’s roar can be heard from up to 8km) away – the loudest roar of any big cat species. Their roar helps them find other lions as well as to proclaim their territory. A pride’s territory may include up to 260km².

Lions are more active during day time compared to other big cats, but when persecuted it adapts to being active at night & twilight

Friday, 12 April 2019


#5 out of our 6 featured CATS: powerful LEOPARD:

The LEOPARD is one of the five extant species in the genus Panthera. The leopard occurs in a wide range in sub-Saharan Africa and parts of Asia. Compared to other wild cats, the leopard has relatively short legs, a long body with a large skull and is similar in appearance to the jaguar. Its fur is marked with small densely packed rosettes. Both leopards and jaguars that are melanistic are known as black panthers.

Lifespan: 12 – 17 years
Speed: 58 km/h (Running)
Scientific name: Panthera pardus
Mass: Male adult; 37 - 90kg (average ~60kg), Female adult; 28 – 60kg (average ~38kg)
Height: Male adult at shoulder: 60 – 70 cm, Female adult at shoulder: 57 – 64 cm
Usually, leopards are larger in areas where they are at the top of the food chain, without competitive restriction from larger predators such as the lion and tiger.

Did you know: 

Adaptivity: The leopard is distinguished by its well-camouflaged fur, opportunistic hunting behaviour, broad diet, and incredible strength (which it uses to move heavy carcasses into trees), as well as its ability to adapt to various habitats ranging from rainforest to steppe, including arid and montane areas.

Diet: Leopards eat small hoof-stock such as gazelle, impala, deer and wildebeast. On occasion, they may also hunt monkeys, rodents and birds. They often bring their prey up into the branches of a tree to eat it and protect it from other predators and scavengers.

Black Panther: A melanistic leopard is the scientific name for a "black panther". While these black cats may look spotless, if you look closely in good daylight, the leopard rosettes can be seen. It is a genetic mutation that causes the dark colouring which may be a beneficial evolutionary trait that improves a leopard’s ability to stay concealed during nocturnal hunts.

Climbing trees: Leopards are solitary (no match against a pride of lions or clan of hyenas) and rarely the largest predator in their area, therefore it is crucial for their young to learn climbing at a young age. This will keep them save and benefit them later to drag their kills into high trees to be stored and keep safe from predators like lions & hyenas.

Leopards have very strong and gripping claws so that they can climb almost a straight cliff, but even more impressive, they can jump up to 3m vertically!

Strong swimmers: Leopards are unlike most other big cats, surprisingly strong swimmers and don’t mind the water. This might be cause of their adaptivity to flourish and survive in different types of habitats

Vulnerability: The leopard is listed as Vulnerable due to habitat loss and fragmentation and are declining in large parts of the global range. Leopards are hunted illegally, and their body parts are smuggled in the wildlife trade for medicinal practices and decoration. Their population numbers are secret to keep them safe.

Thursday, 11 April 2019


#4 out of our 6 featured CATS: the speed machine - CHEETAH:

The CHEETAH is a large cat of the subfamily Felinae that occurs in a variety of mostly arid habitats like dry forests, scrub forests, and savannahs. Its yellowish tan coat is uniformly covered with nearly 2,000 solid black spots. Its body is slender with a small rounded head, black tear-like streaks on the face, deep chest, long thin legs and long spotted tail.
Fastest animal on land!

Lifespan: 10 – 12 years (in the wild) and up to 20 years or longer in captivity 
Speed: 100 – 120 km/h (in short bursts, running)
Scientific name: Acinonyx jubatus
Mass: 21 – 72 kg (Adult)
Height: 70–90 cm at the shoulder

Did you know:

Vulnerability: All populations of cheetah are on the decline, with the total population estimated at less than 7,000 individuals.

Roar: Unlike other big cats, cheetahs cannot roar because it does not have a floating Hyoid bone in its neck. However, they can purr on both inhale and exhale, like domestic cats.

Built for speed: The fastest land animal in the world, a cheetah can reach 112km/h in just three seconds – that's faster than most sports cars accelerate!
They stalk its prey to within 100-300m and charge, however they can only keep this high-speed-chase up for shorts distances of ~ 100m.
Its body has evolved for speed, with long legs, an elongated spine, adapted claws (blunt claws, more like studs on sports shoes!) to grip the ground and a long tail for balance. When running, cheetahs use their tail to steer, like a rudder for a boat. Cheetahs are the only big cat that can turn in mid-air while sprinting.

Male bond: Male cheetahs are the more social despite their territoriality, spending most of their lives in small groups called "coalitions", while females live with their youngsters until they are independent and rarely associate with adult cheetahs other than for brief breeding encounters.

Diurnal: The cheetah is active mainly during the day, with hunting its major activity. A cheetah has amazing eyesight during the day and can spot prey from 5 km away.

Surrender: Due to their light body weight, slender build and blunt claws, the cheetah is not well designed to protect themselves or their prey against a larger or more aggressive animals and will often give up its catch to avoid a fight.

Cubs: Cheetahs breed throughout the year and gestation lasts nearly three months, resulting in a litter of typically three to five, in rare cases up to eight cubs. Until about 3 month of age, cheetah cubs have thick silver-grey mantle down their back. The mantle helps camouflage the cubs by imitating the look of an aggressive animal called the honey badger. Honey badgers are known for their “bad-temper” and not being afraid of anything, even predators such as lions & hyaenas give it a wide berth.
The cubs are weaned at the age of about six months. After siblings become independent from their mother, they usually stay together for some time.

Tear-drop: Distinctive back tear stripes run from the eyes to the mouth. The stripes are thought to protect the eyes from the sun’s glare. It is believed that they have the same function as the rifle scope, helping cheetahs focus on their prey.

Wednesday, 10 April 2019


Next one up (3rd) out of our 6 featured “Cats” … The high-jumper Caracal:

The CARACAL is a slender, moderately sized wild cat characterized by a robust build, a short face, long canine teeth, distinctive tufted ears, sharply tapered tail and long legs. Its coat is uniformly reddish tan or sandy with white markings around its eyes and on its throat, chin, and belly.

Lifespan: 12 – 15 years (in the wild) and up to 19 years or longer in captivity
Speed: up to 80km/h
Scientific name: Caracal caracal
Mass: 12 kg – 20kg (Adult) 
Height: 40 – 50cm (adult at shoulder)

Did you know:

Back Ear: The name Caracal is derived from the Turkish word "karakulak" which means "black ear".

High-jumper: The Caracal is very agile and can leap higher than 3.7m to catch birds like guinea-fowl & pigeons in mid-air. Alternatively, it stalks its prey until it is within 5m of it and then gives chase. The Caracal resembles a cross between a leopard and a lynx, it has a powerful build and leopard-like bark.
Excellent tree climbers, caracal will drag their prey into a tree to be eaten away from other predators.

Habitat: Caracals live in the open, drier savannah and woodland regions of sub-Saharan Africa and prefer the more scrubby, arid habitats. They will also inhabit evergreen and montane forests but are not found in tropical rain forests. They hide and sleep in crevices among rocks and fallen trees.

Nocturnal: The caracal is highly secretive and difficult to observe. It is territorial and lives mainly alone or in pairs. The caracal is a carnivore that typically preys upon small mammals, birds and rodents. It is generally active at sunrise & sunset, although during the hottest months it hunts at night.
Unfortunately they also prey on livestock like goats and sheep, therefore are they are sometimes killed for suspected predation and as a result are very weary of humans.

Tuesday, 9 April 2019


2nd out of our 6 featured “Cats” … The elusive Serval:

The SERVAL is a slender, medium sized cat which prefer areas of bush, tall grass, and dry reed beds near streams, but they are also found in high-altitude moorlands and bamboo thickets.  The serval's coat is yellowish-tan, with black spots, bands and stripes. The closely set ears are black on the back with a horizontal white band. The short tail is ringed with black, and the underparts of the body are white or light tan.

Lifespan: 10 - 12 years in the wild and up to 22 years in captivity
Speed: 80km/h
Scientific name: Leptailurus serval
Mass: 8 – 18kg (females tend to be lighter)
Height: 54 – 62 cm (adult at shoulder)

Did you know:

Long legs: The serval has the longest legs of all the cats, relative to its size.

Elusive: Active in the day as well as at night, servals tend to be solitary with minimal social interaction. Both sexes establish highly overlapping home ranges of 10 to 32 km2.
Servals are carnivores – they prey on rodents (particularly field rats), small birds, frogs, insects and reptiles.

Hunting: The serval uses its sense of hearing to locate the prey; to kill small prey, it leaps over 2m above the ground to land on the prey on its forefeet, and finally kills it with a bite on the neck or the head.

Fast maturing: Mating takes place at different times of the year in different parts of their range, but typically once or twice a year. After a gestational period of two to three months, a litter of one to four is born. Weaning occurs at one month, and kittens begin hunting on their own at six months. The juveniles leave their mother at 12 months.

Habitat: The serval prefers areas with cover such as reeds and tall grasses and proximity to water bodies, such as wetlands and savannahs

Monday, 8 April 2019

African Wild Cat

1st out of our 6 featured “Cats” …lets start with the smallest one first:

The AFRICAN WILD CAT is sandy brown to yellow grey in colour, with black stripes on the tail. ... Today's domestic cats are generally believed to be descendants of the African Wild Cat, which were tamed by the Egyptians over 4000 years ago to control rats and mice raiding their granaries. 

Lifespan: 5 – 12 years in the wild and up to 20 years in captivity
Speed: same as a cat ;)
Scientific name: Felis silvestris lybica
Mass:  3 - 8kg (very similar to domestic cats)
Height: 35 – 40cm (adult at shoulder – very similar to domestic cats)

Did you know:

Ancient relatives: Results of genetic research indicate that the African wildcat diverged into three clades about 173,000 years ago, namely the Near Eastern wildcat, Southern African wildcat and Asiatic wildcat. African wildcats were first domesticated about 10,000 years ago in the Near East and are the ancestors of the domestic cat. 

Crossings between domestic cats and African wildcats are still common today.

It occurs across a wide distribution and has a wide variety of coat colours to help it blend into its environment. Colours range from sandy to greyish-brown and dark grey, best to be distinguish between a domestic cat by the orange/reddish/tan colour on the back of their ears

Friday, 5 April 2019

Which statement belongs to which cat?

  1. Today's domestic cats are descendants of ……….
  2. Rosette markings, very powerful & excellent climber!
  3. Distinctive tufted ears, sharply tapered tail with long legs.
  4. Male …….. are the only big cat species with manes.
  5. Fastest animal on land ; 0 - 112km/h in 3 seconds!
  6. Longest legs of all the cats in relation to its size.

1: African Wild Cat
2: Leopard
3: Caracal
4: Lion
5: Cheetah
6: Serval 


That was too easy🙀…. A little more difficult questions:😼
1. Unlike most cats …. are very social animals.
2. Can Leap up to 3.7 m into the air!
3. Has black spots, bands and stripes.
4. Young cubs have silver-grey mantle down their backs, imitating the look of a Honey-Badger.
5. Loves water and swimming.
6. Colour range from sandy to greyish-brown to dark grey. 

Answers will be revealed later this week!

#AfricanCats #animals #wildlife #cats #SouthAfrica #Kruger
#accessible #travel #disabled #holidays #wheelchair #unlimited