#WorldAnimalDay: Where the Big 5 stand

Bert Du Plessis

Cape Town - 4 October marks World Animal Day and it is celebrated across the world to raise awareness for animal rights and welfare. According to World Animal Day it is a day to advocate animal protection and bring the social injustices to light on a global scale.

The roots of World Animal Day

German writer and publisher of Man and Dog, Heinrich Zimmermann established World Animal Day and the first event dates back to 1925.

South Africa is filled with an astonishing natural ecosystem that is home to a variety of species, but we all know there is no comparison when it comes to the Big 5. In order to appreciate the Big 5 it is important to understand where the populations stand and what needs to be done to help these animals thrive. Awareness is the first step towards change. We are the only country in the world that is home to the Big 5 and protection of these species is the protection of our heritage.

The Big 5

1. The African Lion 

The majestic cat species are dwindling in numbers in South Africa. The reason for the rapid decrease in the population is due to canned hunting, their bones used in medicines in Asia and poaching. Blood Lions have highlighted the on-going problem that is increasing across South Africa and have resulted in NGO organisations such as Campaign against canned hunting and other organisations continue the battle to eradicate canned hunting. Efforts are being put in place to create re-population across the country in the wild. 

READ: #WorldLionDay: Awareness needed to double endangered lion numbers by 2050

2. The Buffalo

The Cape buffalo has been labeled as one of the most ruthless bovines and is feared by hunters as they are known to kill those that hurt them. The species is most threatened by land fragmentation as the industrial areas grow and diminish the natural landscape and environment. They are a powerful force not to be reckoned with as they are capable of tipping over a car or killing a lion.

3. White Rhino

The white rhino is the second biggest species of animal in Africa and thousands flock to our shores to see a rhino in their habitat. The northern white rhino is especially endangered and there is a single white male rhino in Africa that is seeking help through Tinder. Although the white rhino species in South Africa is said to be increasing, South Africa is still battling to keep the species safe in our parks.

READ: #ShockingWildlifeTruth:Last male northern white rhino in Kenya

4. Elephant

The gentle giants of South Africa are revered across the world and their power has awed many visitors and locals as they charge for your car or wave their extensively long eyelashes at you as they slowly tread through the bush. The numbers in elephant poaching have increased during 2017 and campaigns by various organizations such as Amarula have advocated to not let them disappear. Due to the vast number of elephants being poached we may have to face the reality that by 2030 they may be extinct.

READ: #WorldElephantDay: Don't let them dissappear

5. Leopard

These mysterious and elusive feline creatures are a gem to South Africa. It is a rare chance to spot them in the wild as they are known for being solitary animals and their markings camouflage against the South African landscape. The species' numbers outside of Africa are decreasing and according to the IUNC Red list published in 2016 the leopard is near threatened. There have been rare sightings captured on film in South Africa and it cannot help but warm our hearts.

 WATCH: Three playful leopard cubsspotted at Londolozi Game Reserve

With our unique nature and animals are we to sit back and watch our heritage collapse, or do we unite to take a stand and educate one another about conservation and welfare rights?

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