Even though South Africa only covers 1% of Earth’s land surface, the country is home to 10% of the world’s bird, fish and plant species as as as 6% of its mammal and reptile species.
So of course there are a few special cases amongst all the animals. And South Africa is lucky enough to boast with a few record-breaking animals. Six to be exact.
Largest Land Mammal – Elephant
The African Bush/Savanna Elephant is the county’s largest land mammal and can reach a height of nearly 4m and a body mass of up to 10.4 t.
These beautiful creatures are described as “social mammals” and always travel n herds. And the herds are always on the move as they consume up to 230 kg of vegetation a day.
Bonus fact: An elephant’s tusks grow continuously throughout its life.
Largest Bird – Ostrich
The Ostrich is the largest and fastest bird on land. It can reach a height of 2.8 m and weigh almost 160 kg. And you definitely do not want to get on this massive bird’s bad side, because when it starts chasing you, it can reach up to 70 km/h.
Ostrich eggs have also always been a thing of wonder for many counties since it is so large. And the eggs can even weigh up to 1.4 kg.
Tallest Animals – Giraffe
Not only are giraffes the world-breaking tallest animal on Earth, but also the largest ruminant on Earth.
The average height of a male giraffe is between 5-6 m and the average height of females is around 4.6 m. And when a baby giraffe hits that ground during birth, it is already 1.8 m tall.
The giraffe with its extremely long neck and legs are one of the most loved animals in Africa and has intrigued various ancient and modern cultures due to its “peculiar appearance“. And from that, they have featured in many paintings, books and even cartoons.
Largest Fish – Whale Shark
These fish might be scary looking, especially since they can grow up to 12m in length, but they are actually the “gentle giants” of the sea.
Whale sharks are referred to as “filter feeders” and can’t bite or chew. And even though its mouth can stretch more than 1 meter, its teeth are so tiny, they will only be successful eating small shrimp, fish and plankton. Instead, they process more than 6 000 litres of water an hour through their gills and use this suction filter when eating.
Bonus fact: only 10% of whale sharks live to adulthood, and those that do can live up to 150 years.
Fastest Land Mammal – Cheetah
A cheetah is built for speed. And with its light build, long thin legs and long tail, this amazing animal can break records by running up to 80 – 128 km/h.
When the cheetah hunts, it stalks its targeted prey so that it is within 60 – 70 m. From there it charges towards it, and when the prey starts to run away, the cheetah trips it during the chase and bites into its throat.
And the oldest cheetah fossils have been found in eastern and southern Africa, dated 3.5 – 3 million years ago.
Largest Antelope – Eland
The Eland is the world’s largest antelope and is mostly known for its incredible size and horns.
An adult male can grow up to 1.6m in height and can weigh up to 942 kg. The uniquely characterised twisted horns of the males are thick and tightly spiralled. The females’ horns can grow up to 64cm, while the males’ horns are double in size, reaching a length of nearly 130cm.
And not only are these horns impressive to look at, but they are also quite practical for the elands as they use them to bring twigs and branches into reach.