From the giant millipede to the African elephant, South Africa is a land of plenty big animals. This post ranks South Africa’s big, charismatic terrestrial and marine species among the world’s top contenders.

 

South Africa is truly a land of plenty big animals. It’s home to the ostrich, the world’s largest living bird. It’s also home to six of the world’s eleven heaviest land mammals. The African elephant ranks No. 1 on that list, weighing in at up to six tons (5.4 tonnes). The white rhinoceros and hippopotamus hold  No. 3 and No. 4 positions in the list, respectively (after the Indian elephant, which is No. 2). The giraffe (world’s tallest land animal) ranks No. 6 on the “largest” list, after the Asian gaur, at No. 5. The black rhinoceros ranks No. 8, after the walrus at No. 7. Last on the list but far from least, the African (Cape) buffalo ranks No. 11, below the Asian water buffalo at No. 9 and the American bison at No. 10. (Tap on photos to enlarge.)

Six Months in South Africa: Land of Plenty Big Animals: Common Ostrich (Struthio camelus) (© Vilis Nams)

Common Ostrich (Struthio camelus) (© Vilis Nams)

Six Months in South Africa: Land of Plenty Big Animals: African Elephant (Loxodonta africana) (© Magi Nams)

African Elephant (Loxodonta africana) (© Magi Nams)

Six Months in South Africa: Land of Plenty Big Animals: White Rhinoceroses (Ceratotherium simum) (© Magi Nams)

White Rhinoceroses (Ceratotherium simum) (© Magi Nams)

Six Months in South Africa: Land of Plenty Big Animals: African Buffalo (Syncerus caffer) (© Magi Nams)

African Buffalo (Syncerus caffer) (© Magi Nams)

Six Months in South Africa: Land of Plenty Big Animals: Giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis) (© Vilis Nams)

Giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis) (© Vilis Nams)

On a slightly smaller scale, four of South Africa’s charismatic cats are in the top ten biggest cats in the world. The African lion weighs in at No. 2, after the Siberian and Bengal tigers, which are pretty much tied for No. 1. The leopard ranks No. 5, after the jaguar at No. 3 and the cougar at No. 4. The cheetah ranks as No. 7, after the snow leopard, at No. 6. The caracal weighs in at No. 10, after the Eurasian lynx at No. 8 and the clouded leopard at No. 9.

In the marine environment, South African waters are visited by other “biggests” and “plenty bigs:” the great blue whale (world’s largest animal), sperm whale, humpback, right whale and other whales, southern elephant seal (largest seal), dugong, giant squid (largest invertebrate), the whale shark (largest living fish) and the great white shark.

Six Months in South Africa: Land of Plenty Big Animals: African Lion (Panthera leo) (© Magi Nams)

African Lion (Panthera leo) (© Magi Nams)

After living in South Africa for three months, I fear that I may soon join the list of plenty bigs. The cost of living here is low, and the food is astonishingly inexpensive, by Canadian standards. In addition to having giant earthworms and giant millipedes, Grahamstown also has giant servings of sweets in the bakery sections of Checkers and Pick n Pay!

Six Months in South Africa: Land of Plenty Big Animals: Giant Earthworm (© Magi Nams)

Giant Earthworm (© Magi Nams)

Six Months in South Africa: Land of Plenty Big Animals: South African Giant Millipede (© Vilis Nams)

South African Giant Millipede (© Vilis Nams)

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