African Wildlife Trivia
Can you name the largest cat in Africa? Any idea how heavy an ostrich egg is, or how wide a hippo can stretch its jaws? Take our African safari wildlife quiz below to put your knowledge to the test, then share it with your family and friends to see who knows the most about life on the savanna! When you're finished, scroll down to reveal the correct answers and explanations.
This feline is the largest of Africa’s cats, spending its days lounging in the sun. It hunts
big game such as zebra and wildebeest during early morning and evening hours:
Correct answer: Lion
Explanation: Lions are the kings of the African savanna. A full-grown male weighs an average of 420 pounds. Leopards and cheetahs weigh two to four times less than their regal cousin. The caracal is a medium-sized African cat with long, black-tufted ears and weighs about 26 pounds.
Photo Credits—Caracal: Richard Avilino; Leopard: Anthony Goldman; Cheetah: Emily Kautz; Lion: Maggy Meyer
Which creature spends most of its time alone, rather than in a group?
Correct Answer: Leopard
Explanation: Leopards are solitary individuals, lounging by the banks of rivers on boulders and in trees. They stalk their prey, as well as leap onto their unsuspecting victims from the canopy. African wild dogs, hyenas and jackals hunt cooperatively in groups, as lions do.
Photo Credits—African Wild Dog: Emily Kautz; Hyena: Rick Guthke; Leopard: Elaine Kuo; Jackal: Matt Goddard
What is the closest living relative of the hippo?
Correct Answer: Whale
Explanation: The ancient Greeks thought the hippo resembled a horse and so named it using the Greek words hippos meaning "horse" and meaning "river." Similarly, scientists have long associated hippos with pigs due to their squat shape. However, molecular phylogeny has shown that hippos’ closest relative is actually the whale. Whales and hippos shared a common water-loving ancestor that split into two groups about 55 million years ago: cetaceans (whales, dolphins potamos and porpoises) and land-dwelling anthracotheres—a group of four-legged animals that left only one descendant, the hippopotamus.
Photo Credits—Warthog, Rhino & Elephant: Emily Kautz; Humpback Whale: James Spedick
The term “Big Five” refers to:
Correct Answer: Cape buffalo, lion, leopard, elephant, rhinoceros
Explanation: The "Big Five" originally referred to the most difficult animals to hunt on foot. Now the term is often used to describe some of the most sought-after wildlife travelers hope to photograph during an African safari.
Photo Credit—Paul Joynson Hicks
How wide can a hippo stretch its jaws?
Correct Answer: 150º
Explanation: Hippos are highly territorial, opening their mouths wide in a show of dominance. They are the second-largest terrestrial animal, weighing up to 4,400 pounds. These barrel-shaped creatures are more dangerous then they appear, capable of snapping a crocodile in half!
Elephants are the largest land animals and are incredibly intelligent creatures. Which
of the following traits do humans and elephants share?
Correct Answer: All of the above
Explanation: These gentle giants demonstrate remarkable perception and empathy. Research has shown that elephants mourn the loss of loved ones. They have been known to dig shallow graves and cover the fallen elephant with foliage, keeping watch over the body for hours or days. Elephants form tight-knit groups, which is led by a matriarch, and they have deep family bonds. The old saying "elephants never forget" is more truth than fiction. They appear to remember those they may have encountered only briefly years before. In addition to recognizing one another, these long-lived pachyderms are able to recall alternate routes to food and water during dry spells.
Photo Credit—Michael Willis
Venom has little effect on this thick-skinned, fearless creature that can kill and eat snakes (even the deadly black mamba!) and also has a particular fondness for bee larvae:
Explanation: The honey badger is ferocious, taking on poisonous scorpions and snakes with apparent ease. Bites from black mambas and cobras have little effect on this thick-skinned creature, and stings do not deter them as they extract bee larvae from hives. Honey badgers have even been known to steal cheetah cubs from dens.
Photo Credits—Honey badger: Diane Tallo; Meerkat & Bat-eared fox: Gavin Lautenbach
How heavy is an ostrich egg?
Correct answer: 3 pounds
Explanation: The ostrich is a champion of all sorts. It is the heaviest and tallest living bird and also lays the largest eggs, which can be up to 6 inches long. This flightless creature uses its powerful legs to reach speeds of 43 mph, holding out its short wings for balance as it runs, making it the fastest land runner of any bird.
Photo Credit—Gary Krosin
How fast can a cheetah run?
Correct Answer: 70 mph
Explanation: The cheetah is the fastest land animal on earth, accelerating from 0 to 60 mph in 3 seconds flat. Using bursts of speed, these swift, agile hunters are able to chase down prey in less than one minute.
Fun Fact: The word "cheetah" derives from the Sanskrit word meaning "the spotted one. chitraka
Photo Credit—Emily Kautz
How long is a giraffe’s tongue?
Correct answer: 18 inches
Explanation: A giraffe uses its long, prehensile tongue to reach around thorns and grasp onto leaves of the acacia tree. Thick, antiseptic saliva helps coat any thorns they may swallow. The blue-black color of the tongue protects it from sunburn.
Photo Credit—Eric Rock
Which species of monkey is not found in Africa?
Correct answer: Golden lion tamarin
Explanation: The golden lion tamarin is an endangered monkey found in the coastal forests of Brazil. Its name derives from the thick rings of hair that encircle its head, reminiscent of a lion’s mane. Vervet monkeys, colobus monkeys and baboons are all found in Africa.
Photo Credits—Baboon: Joseph Moore; Vervet Monkey: Emily Kautz; Golden Lion Tamarin: Holly Glessner
How many muscles are in an elephant’s trunk?
Correct answer: 40,000
Explanation: An elephant’s trunk is extremely dexterous, with 40,000 muscles divided into as many as 150,000 parts! Elephants use their trunks to harvest food, drink, handle objects, pick up scents, take dust baths, comfort young and communicate with one another.
Photo Credit—Emily Kautz
Which animal does not feed on the leaves or seeds of the acacia tree?
Correct answer: Vulture
Explanation: Vultures are scavengers, feeding on carrion. You may see them circling overhead after a lion’s kill, ready to feast on the remains of the carcass. The giraffe’s long neck allows it to reach the uppermost branches of the acacia tree to feed on leaves. Elephants use their trunks to reach for acacia leaves and strip the bark off trees using their tusks. They can even push down the trees to feed on roots that are rich in carbohydrates. Elephants also use their tusks to knock acacia seed pods, surrounded by large thorns, onto the ground. The nutritious pods are rich in protein and fat and are an important food source for many African animals. These seeds are one of vervet monkeys' favorite foods!
Fun Fact: Just as a human is left- or right-handed, elephants are left- or right tusked! An elephant's dominant tusk is usually smaller due to wear and tear from frequent use.
Photo Credits—Elephant: Emily Kautz; Vervet Monkey: Justin Gibson
This bird is frequently seen perching on the backs of buffalo, rhino and impala, eating ticks and other small insects embedded in their hides:
Correct answer: Oxpecker
Explanation: The oxpecker collects insects on the hides of large mammals. The malachite kingfisher lives by rivers, ponds wetlands. It perches on reeds to hunt for fish, aquatic insects and crustaceans. The lilac-breasted roller lives in woodland and grassland areas, scouting out insects from the trees. Weavers, whose name derives from their elaborately woven nests, feed on seeds. and
Photo Credits—Lilac-breasted roller: Trina Pate; Oxpecker: Yaron Schmid; Malachite Kingfisher: Carol Santora; Weaver: Mona Wong
World Wildlife Fund is helping protect African species by:
Correct Answer: All of the above
Explanation: World Wildlife Fund is committed to conserving African wildlife. WWF works with governments and communities to create wildlife corridors that give animals the freedom to roam in habitats that are being increasingly fragmented by human development. The NGO is combatting the illegal wildlife trade through antipoaching efforts and ranger training. Lastly, WWF supports opportunities for ecotourism, which give local communities an incentive to protect wildlife by providing a sustainable source of revenue and jobs as guides and game scouts.
Join the conservation partner of WWF, Natural Habitat Adventures, on safari to witness astounding animal behaviors and . explore Africa's biodiverse ecosystems
Photo Credit—Pal Teravagimov
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