The Wildebeest's guide to South Africa

FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions


How much information is on this site?

Information is added regularly but as at November 2016 the site has around 770 pages with 2,200 photos.

Are all the identifications correct?

I wish I could say that they are, but I am not sure. I am not an expert in all areas of our natural history. I do, however, have an extensive library of reference books and I make a lot of effort to establish the correct identification of a species. If you find a mistake I would love to hear from you. Click the link at the bottom left of the relevant page to inform me.

How do you tell the difference between a Black and White Rhino?

Firstly, it has nothing to do with colour! The colour of a rhino is often determined by the colour of the soil or mud that it has been rolling in. White Rhinos are larger and have a distinctly ‘heavier’ looking head which typically hangs down. They feed on grass which is why they need to be able to reach down low. Black Rhinos are smaller and have a smaller head which is held horizontally. This fits in with their feeding habits of browsing on bushes. The other main difference is in the shape of the mouth. The White Rhino has a wide ‘square’ lip while the Black Rhino has a ‘hook’ shaped lip. Click here for more information and photos. Click here for more info.

Can I get involved? I would like to contribute.

Yes, you can! My travel time is limited so I would always be interested in photographs of the towns and places around South Africa - particularly if I do not already have the place documented. I am also interested in nature pictures as long as you are able to assist with identification of the subject. Please email me for more information.

What are the Big 5?

The term ‘Big 5’ originates with the ‘big game’ hunters that have hunted trophy animals over the years in Africa. The attraction and risk of hunting these animals gave them the ultimate excitement. Fortunately, today, most people that are looking for the Big 5 are doing so with binoculars and cameras! The Big 5 consists of Elephant, Lion, Buffalo, Leopard and Rhino. Which species of Rhino I hear you ask. It doesn’t matter. Either Black or White will do and if you are really lucky you will see both. There are a number of animals that are equally as exciting to see as the traditional Big 5. These include Cheetah and Wild Dog. Click the link for more info on the Big 5.

Are all the photographs taken by you?

Most of the photographs have been taken by myself or Johan van Zyl. I have started using a photo library to buy some photographs.

How many species of mammals are found in South Africa?

South Africa has a rich variety of mammals with 299 species having been recorded. These range from minute mice to massive whales. The country is well-known for its big game species such as the carnivores and antelope but there are many lesser known ones as well. These include moles, bats, rodents, dolphins and whales. In virtually every habitat in the country there are mammals to be found. As with many other countries mammal habitats are threatened by the spread of cities and agriculture. On top of this poaching, either for the meat or for commercial gain is constantly on the increase and it requires a huge amount of money and other resources to combat it.

How big is Kruger National Park?

Kruger National Park is the size of Israel! South Africa is blessed to have a wildlife preserve that is 360 kilometres long and, at its widest, 65 kilometres wide. Speed limits, for driving in the park, are set to 50 km/h on tar roads and 40 km/h on dirt roads which means that it is almost impossible to drive the length of the park in a single day. The beauty of having such a large area is that a number of different habitats are found within the park and the animals are able to carry out normal migrations and seasonal movements.

What is your favourite destination in South Africa?

Whenever I am asked what my favourite destination is in South Africa I always say Kruger National Park. I love the atmosphere in the various camps in the park and of course the ability to drive for hours in a wildlife paradise. Kruger National Park may not suit everyone as it your opportunities for exercise are limited and there are virtually no other forms of entertainment besides driving and relaxing at night. If I had to choose a favourite city it would have to be Cape Town. This city has it all. It is scenic, modern and nestles between two oceans. There is so much to do that it can keep the whole family happy for a long time!

Where can I see the Big 5?

There are many game reserves that have one or more of the Big 5 animals present. Kruger National Park is a great place to see the Big 5 but it takes time and patience. Elephant, Buffalo and Lion can be seen fairly regularly across the reserve. Rhino numbers have been affected drastically in recent years by poaching but they can still be found fairly easily in the southern portions of the park. Leopard are not uncommon but are difficult to find. If you spend a week or so in Kruger National Park then you should see most, if not all, of the Big 5. If you have less time available and want to give yourself the best opportunity to see the Big 5 then I recommend that you stay at one of the private reserves where experienced guides will do their best to find them for you. This is, however, a very expensive option.

Are there still Rhino’s in South Africa?

Before the recent spate of rhino poaching there were many places that were proud to include the White Rhino in their lists of species to be seen. Fortunately there are still good numbers of them kept around the country but who knows how long it will be before seeing a Rhino becomes a rarity. Black Rhinos are not as common as White Rhinos but they are found in a number of the bigger game reserves. They are not seen as often as they are shyer and favour thick bush while the White Rhino is more at home on the savanna.

Is the water safe to drink?

Besides a few remote places the water is safe to drink. So, unless you have a particular preference for spring water you will be pleasantly surprised with the quality of the tap water. Bottled spring water is commonly available at shops are restaurants across the country white many brands of still and sparkling water available.


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