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TRAVEL BLOG, 11 Inspirational Facts About Animals

#1 - Facts about Mountain Gorilla

Mountain gorillas are endangered animals found in east and central Africa. Gorillas spend about a quarter of their day eating leaves, shoots and stems, larvae, snails, ants, and even roots, barks and rotting wood. At night, mountain gorilla groups sleep together in nests on the ground, or in trees, that they make from foliage. To intimidate rivals, male gorillas strut with stiff legs, beat their chests, and use vocalizations like roars or hoots. Mountain gorillas live in stable family groups of around 10 individuals, with one dominant male and several females. Both males and females care for their infants; hugging, carrying and playing with them. When they get older, most males and females leave their birth group to form another group. Gorillas are classed as infants until they reach around three-and-a-half years old, and adults from around 8 years. Males between 8-12 years are called 'blackbacks'. Then from 12 years old, they develop a silver section of hair over their back and hips, earning them the name 'silverback'. An average silverback gorilla can weigh up to 180kg, female gorillas weigh 90kg, and measure up to 150cm. The main threat to mountain gorillas is the degradation of their habitat. Gorillas can be exposed to human illnesses – cough and sneezes spread diseases and kill gorillas.

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#2 - Facts about Chimpanzee

No other animal reminds us so much of ourselves as the chimpanzee. Besides many common features and mannerisms, chimpanzees also share 98% of our human DNA, making them our closest living relatives. A chimpanzee the size of a human is said to be four times stronger. Normally, chimps get around by swinging with their long arms. Chimpanzees make over 30 different noises. The most common noise they make is known as the long pant-hoot. This noise is used as a long-distance call for a variety of social reasons. Chimpanzees are highly social. They live in communities of several dozen animals, led by an alpha male and his coalition of male allies. Chimpanzees normally walk on all four and can stand and walk upright. Chimpanzee eat fruits, plants, insects, eggs, nuts and bush meat which they get from hunting monkeys, small antelope, and even tortoises, which they slam against trees to break open their shells.

Chimpanzees use stones to open foods such as nuts or shelled foods. They also know how to use leaves to scoop up drinking water. Grooming is an important social activity for them. Chimpanzees can even be taught to use some basic human sign language. Chimps are able to learn and create simple games like a 4-year-old child. They are capable of expressing feelings through actions and movements. On the other hand diseases such as Ebola have been known to spread among gorillas and chimps in Central Africa. They may also catch the common cold and other infections such as HIV and AIDS. Chimpanzees are a target of Bush meat hunters because they provide more meat than smaller mammals, making chimpanzee an endangered species.

#3 - Facts about shoebill Stork

Shoebill is a prehistoric-looking bird. It has a foot-long bill which is five inches wide and has sharp edges and a sharp hook on the end. Its specialized bill allows the shoebill to grab large prey, including lungfish, tilapia, snakes, baby crocodiles and Nile monitor lizards. Reaching up to five feet tall with an eight-foot wingspan, shoebills have yellow eyes, gray feathers, white bellies, and a small feathered crest on the back of their heads. They also have long, thin legs with large feet that are ideal for walking on the vegetation in the freshwater marshes and swamps they inhabit. Shoebills can stay motionless for hours, so when a hapless lungfish comes up for air, it might not notice this lethal prehistoric-looking bird looming until it’s too late. The birds practice a hunting technique called “collapsing,” which involves falling forward on their prey. Shoebills are in a family all their own, though they were once classified as storks. They do share traits with storks and herons, like the long necks and legs characteristic of wading birds, though their closest relatives are the pelicans. They keep cool with a technique called gular fluttering—vibrating the throat muscles to dissipate heat. These birds are very solitary in nature, though, and even mating pairs will feed at opposite sides of their territory. Breeding pairs build nests on water or on floating vegetation, and can be up to eight feet wide. Females lay an average of two eggs at the end of the rainy season. As co-parents, both birds tend to the eggs and young. This includes incubating and turning eggs, and cooling them with water they bring to the nest in their large bills. One of the most incredible shoebill stork facts is that these birds live a long time. Wild shoebills are thought to live in excess of 25 years. Because they have such a long lifespan, shoebill storks take a long time to grow up. Once the chicks are born, they take three years to reach sexual maturity. Shoebill storks build some of the strangest nests in the animal kingdom. They build them on floating vegetation over relatively deep water. The floating nature of the nest, coupled with its location in thick vegetation, makes it extremely difficult for predators to reach. Another incredible shoebill stork fact is that they are not small birds. Despite their size, they’re not flightless. In fact, shoebills have an eight-foot wingspan. They stand between 3.5-5 feet tall and may weigh as much as 12 pounds. They have long, straight legs, long toes, and lengthy, powerful wings. Their predominant color is slate gray, with tones of light gray, blue gray, and dark gray marking the wings apart from the belly. Their bills are light orange and just might be their most distinctive feature.

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#4 - Facts about Wildebeest

Wildebeest are antelopes native to Eastern and Southern Africa. They belong to the family Bovidae, which includes true antelopes, cattle, goats, sheep, and other even-toed horned ungulates. There are two species of wildebeest: the black wildebeest and the blue wildebeest. In East Africa, the blue wildebeest is the most abundant big-game species; some populations perform an annual migration to new grazing grounds, but the black wildebeest is merely nomadic. Wildebeest often graze in mixed herds with zebra, which gives heightened awareness of potential predators. They are also alert to the warning signals emitted by other animals such as baboons. In East Africa, the blue wildebeest is the most abundant big game species, both in population and biomass. It is a notable feature of the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania, the Maasai Mara National BOOK NOW in Kenya Major predators that feed on wildebeest include the lion, hyena, African wild dog, cheetah, leopard, and crocodile.

Wildebeest, however, are very strong, and can inflict considerable injury even to a lion. Wildebeest have a maximum running speed of around 80 km/h (50 mph). The primary defensive tactic is herding, where the young animals are protected by the older, larger ones, while the herd runs as a group. Typically, the predators attempt to isolate a young or ill animal and attack without having to worry about the herd. Wildebeest have developed additional sophisticated cooperative behaviours, such as animals taking turns sleeping while others stand guard against a night attack by invading predators. Wildebeest migrations are closely followed by vultures, as wildebeest carcasses are an important source of food for these scavengers. The vultures consume about 70% of the wildebeest carcasses available.

#5 - Facts on Honey Badger

The honey badger also known as the ratel is a mammal widely distributed in Africa. It is a skilled digger, able to dig tunnels into hard ground in 10 minutes. The honey badger is notorious for its strength, ferocity and toughness. It is known to savagely and fearlessly attack almost any other species when escape is impossible, reportedly even repelling much larger predators such as lion and hyena. It often raids beehives in search of both bee larvae and honey. It also feeds on insects, frogs, tortoises, turtles, lizards, rodents, snakes, birds and eggs. It also eats berries, roots and bulbs. When foraging for vegetables, it lifts stones or tears bark from trees. Some individuals have even been observed to chase away lion cubs from kills. It devours all parts of its prey, including skin, hair, feathers, flesh and bones, holding its food down with its forepaws. Because of the toughness and looseness of their skin, honey badgers are very difficult to kill with dogs. Their skin is hard to penetrate, and its looseness allows them to twist and turn on their attackers when held. Honey badgers often become serious poultry predators.

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#6 - Facts on Oryx

Oryx is a genus consisting of four large antelope species called oryxes. Their pelage is pale with contrasting dark markings in the face and on the legs, and their long horns are almost straight. All oryx species prefer near-desert conditions and can survive without water for long periods. They live in herds of up to 600 animals.

Newborn calves are able to run with the herd immediately after birth. Both males and females possess permanent horns. The horns are narrow and straight except in the scimitar oryx, where they curve backwards like a scimitar. One other interesting fact about oryx is that the horns are lethal weapons: oryxes have been known to kill lions with them.

#7 - Facts on Porcupines

Porcupines are large rodents with coats of sharp spines, or quills, that protect them against predation. Porcupines' colouration consists of various shades of brown, grey and white. A porcupine's colouring aids in part of its defence as most of the predators are nocturnal and colour blind. Porcupines are rounded, large, and slow, and use an aposematic strategy of defence. A baby porcupine is a porcupette. When born, a porcupette's quills are soft hair; they harden within a few days, forming the sharp quills of adults. Porcupines have a relatively high longevity and hold the record for being the longest-living rodent living over 32 years. The African porcupine is not a climber; instead, it forages on the ground. It is mostly nocturnal but will sometimes forage for food in the day, eating bark, roots, fruits, berries, and farm crops. Porcupines have become a pest in Africa and are eaten as a delicacy. There are four main Defensive behaviour displays seen in a porcupine: quill erection, teeth clattering, odor emission, and attack. Along with the raising of the quills, porcupines clatter their teeth to warn predators not to approach. The incisors vibrate against each other, the strike zone shifts back, and the cheek teeth clatter. This behaviour is often paired with body shivering, which is used to further display the dangerous quills. The porcupine will attack by running sideways or backwards into predators. When quills are released new quills grow to replace lost ones.

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#8 - Facts on Pangolins

Pangolins have large, protective keratin scales, similar in material to fingernails and toenails, covering their skin; they are the only known mammals with this feature. They live in hollow trees or burrows, depending on the species. Pangolins are nocturnal, and their diet consists of mainly ants and termites, which they capture using their long tongues. They tend to be solitary animals, meeting only to mate and produce a litter of one to three offspring and the mother carries her young infant on her back. Pangolins are threatened by poaching (for their meat and scales, which are used in traditional medicine and heavy deforestation of their natural habitats, and they are the most trafficked mammals in the world.

They are made of keratin, the same material from which human fingernails are made and are structurally and very different from the scales of reptiles. It can curl up into a ball when threatened, with its overlapping scales acting as armor, while it protects its face by tucking it under its tail. The scales are sharp, providing extra defense from predators. Pangolins can emit a noxious-smelling chemical from glands near the anus. Large pangolins can extend their tongues as much as 40 cm.

#9 - Facts about Cheetah

The cheetah is the is a large cat native to Africa. It is the fastest land animal, capable of running at 80 to 98 km/h. It has specialized adaptations for speed, including a light build, long thin legs and a long tail. Its head is small and rounded, with a short snout and black tear-like facial streaks. The coat is typically tawny to creamy white or pale buff and is mostly covered with evenly spaced, solid black spots.The cheetah occurs in a variety of habitats such as savannahs in the Serengeti.

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#10 - Facts about Ostrich

Ostriches are large flightless birds. They are the heaviest living birds, and lay the largest eggs of any living land animal. With the ability to run at 70 km/h. Ostriches are found natively in the wild in Uganda, where they occur in semi-arid habitats such as Kidepo Valley National Park.

#11 - Facts About Brahminy Snake

Brahminy blind snake is a non-venomous snake species found in Africa. Adults measure 2–4 inches, uncommonly 6 inches, making it the smallest known snake species. The head and tail are superficially similar. The eyes are barely discernible as small dots under the head scales. Braminy is parthenogenetic. They lay eggs or may bear live young one. Up to eight offspring are produced. Brahminy blind snakes are excellent burrowers and can be found in loose soil and leaf litter, sawdust piles, rotting logs, and beneath rocks and other surface debris. Brahminy Blind Snake can move forward or backward in the same manner which makes it difficult to differentiate between the head or tail. In Northern Part of Uganda it is locally known as two-head snake even though it has one head. One other interesting fact about brahminy blind snake is that when swallowed by the local chickens in the villages, it goes through the intestine of a chicken and comes out from the anus alive just in few minutes as you observe the hen standing in one position and turning, turning around.

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