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Meet the Big Five’s extended family: The “Big Nine”

May 9th, 2018, by Karen Ellowit


The term “Big Five” is undeniably catchy. It was adopted by the safari business to excite visitors about the most iconic and fearsome quintet of mammals found in Africa: the lion, leopard, rhinoceros, elephant and Cape buffalo. And it is also undeniably effective; millions come to the continent every year to catch a glimpse of these awe-inspiring animals.

But of course there are dozens of other remarkable creatures to be found in Africa that should not be overlooked. We’d like you to meet four species that comprise the extended family of the Big Five: the cheetah, hippo, zebra and giraffe. All together they constitute the “Big Nine,” a catchphrase that perhaps better captures what you should look out for while on safari.

The cheetah: Though it is also spotted like the leopard, the cheetah should not be confused with its larger, more powerful cousin. These sleek, slim and exceptionally beautiful endangered creatures are the fastest land mammals on Earth, and can run up to 70 miles per hour. They can be found in many parts of southern and Eastern Africa, including the Maasai Mara, but because their numbers are small and their range so wide, sighting one is a rare but very rewarding experience. Though they are typically solitary animals, if you do happen to see a group of them, you’ll impress your friends by calling it a “coalition” of cheetahs.
 

The hippopotamus: Hippos are a far more common sight on safari than cheetahs, but most visitors only see their eyes and nostrils as they lurk just below the surface of the rivers and lakes that they love. Though hippos may look placid, they can be aggressive and territorial when provoked -- bet you didn’t know that they are actually the most dangerous land mammal in the world! So keep your distance, and if you’re patient you’ll see a “pod” of these giants as they emerge from the river in the evening to munch on grass and leaves.
 

The zebra: Zebras are perhaps the most visually striking mammal in Africa. Though they all boast bold black and white stripes, each zebra has its own unique pattern, the same way you and I have unique fingerprints. They can be seen roaming the plains of southern and eastern Africa in social groups called a “harem” or “dazzle,” often nibbling each other’s necks, “horsing” around, or more importantly, protecting each other from predators such as lions and hyenas.
 

The giraffe: The tallest of African mammals is not hard to spot, and considering their height it’s not surprising that a group of giraffes is called a “tower.” They spend their days with their heads high in the treetops, foraging for leaves, which they pull off branches with their 20-inch long prehensile tongues. When they’re not eating, they’re roaming the savanna looking for their next meal, and keeping an eye out for lions. Yes, lions have been known to attack giraffes, even though they are 10 times their size, but giraffes are usually able to defend themselves by running away – they can reach speeds up to 35 miles per hour – or by delivering a swift, powerful kick.

Earth Day 2018

April 18th, 2018, by African Travel

The Travel Corporation and TreadRight Foundation Celebrate Wildlife Initiative for Earth Day 2018

The TreadRight Foundation, created as a joint initiative between The Travel Corporation’s (TTC) family of brands, recognizes Earth Day 2018 by celebrating the TreadRight Wildlife Initiative.

As a travel organization, the TTC family of brands appreciate just how spectacular this planet is every day, taking great pride in creating experiences of a lifetime across the globe. Exploring the world and gaining a deeper understanding of each destination helps forge lasting connections to the history, culture and natural elements that makes each special.

Destinations across the planet are often defined by their iconic wildlife and many local populations are dependent on a robust ecosystem to make a living. However, wildlife crimes like poaching and animal exploitation threaten to harm these innocent creatures and even wipe entire species off the face of the planet. Earth Day 2018 provides TTC and TreadRight the opportunity to celebrate the incredible work of those leading the charge to defend animals in vulnerable situations, such as big cats, elephants, and rhinos.

As TreadRight celebrates Earth Day 2018, those travelling with the TTC family of brands can also rest assured that they are helping to make a positive difference for our planet. Travelling with TTC’s family of brands this Earth Day will help to fund The TreadRight Foundation’s big cat conservation project, delivered in partnership with their Wildlife Initiative partners at the Wildlife Conservation Society.

“Through my years spent working across every environment imaginable, whether I’m telling the stories of people or wildlife, there remains one constant in any healthy ecosystem, no matter the habitat, from the oceans to deserts to rainforests; top predators are integral to robust and flourishing ecosystems,” says TreadRight Ambassador Céline Cousteau.

“We need to remember the importance of top predators. We have put these vital animals at risk. It is our responsibility to save them. We have to remember the essentials of a human-nature co-existence. We need to tap back into the idea of balance and recognize that in a multitude of integral ecosystems around the globe, the survival of big cats is central to a healthy ecosystem.”

To learn more about The TreadRight Foundation and the work it does to ensure the environments and communities we visit remain vibrant for generations to come through the more than 50-plus sustainable tourism projects it helps to support worldwide, please visit treadright.org.

International Women's Day 2018

March 8th, 2018, by African Travel

Lucille Sive: Empowering Women on International Women’s Day

“The story of women’s struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organization but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights.”

– Gloria Steinem

Now, more than ever, issues facing women are gaining momentum worldwide. With the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements spurring activism in the US, #PressForProgress – the call for gender parity championed by International Women’s Day 2018 (March 8) – couldn’t come at a better time.

 

Lucille Sive at eKhaya eKasi Centre in Cape Town

 

On this #IWD2018, we highlight the efforts of Lucille Sive, CEO of The Travel Corporation’s (TTC) Africa Division, who wholeheartedly endorses gender parity. As one of the first women in the travel industry to break the proverbial “glass ceiling,” Lucille proudly promotes gender parity in her home country, South Africa, by supporting sustainable economic growth for disadvantaged women.

Lucille has spearheaded many sustainable and responsible travel initiatives in Africa, and these are what she is most proud of and holds closest to her heart. Uthando, a unique non-profit organization which raises funds for life-changing community development programs in Cape Town, was personally selected by Lucille to partner with African Travel, Inc. Lucille and African Travel are deeply involved with Uthando projects that help women in the Khayelitsha township gain skills and earn income.

The eKhaya eKasi “Home in the Hood” Art and Education Centre is the setting for two of these projects. A vibrant community resource, eKhaya eKasi offers after-school programs in literacy and performing arts for children, and assists unemployed adults with job skills and entrepreneurship training. Beading and weaving are among the skills women learn here, and the artisanal gifts they make and sell allow them to support their families while improving the health of their local community.

 

Lulama Sihlabeni, eKhaya eKasi director 

 

“The women of Africa are so resilient and resourceful,” says Lucille. “I am so proud that we’re able to partner with Uthando on these amazing projects that help foster independence and empowerment in women who are making a difference in their communities. It is truly inspirational.”

 

Beaded animals made by the women at eKhaya eKasi

 

Guests on various African Travel itineraries receive beaded rhinos made by the women of eKhaya eKasi as gifts, and starting in summer 2018 African Travel also plans to give blankets made by these women to local orphanages and underprivileged children.

We know that gender parity won’t happen overnight, but through progressive and supportive efforts made by women collectively, we can stay motivated and make positive gains day by day.  

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