Jan 1

As we say goodbye to 2014, we say hello to 2015 and what’s more traditional than ringing in the New Year with some beautiful babies! We’ve set ourselves to the difficult task of identifying some of the cutest and most interesting wildlife babies to get us off to a fresh start on January 1.

After a look at this list, we bet you’ll be looking forward to a happy (and maybe even cuddly) new year!

Bundles of joy

Ten day old brown bears

At ten days old, these brown bears hardly resemble the large furry adults they will one day become. Brown bears usually have litters of one to four cubs with cubs reaching maturity at four to six years of age.

Hey everyone look right

Group of ostrich chicks

These fluffy  and speckled ostrich chicks look very different from the black and white adults they all aspire to become. While ostriches lay some of the largest eggs among birds, they also hold the distinct honor of being the fastest running bird at an astonishing 43 mph.

Cute as a button

Harp seal pup

The angelic harp seal pup is distinguished by its white and pristine fur that differentiates it from the silvery-grey color of the adult. The pups white fur becomes whiter during their first two weeks, but they molt soon after and develop the silvery-grey of adults.

I present, the (tiny) emperor

Emperor newt tadpole

This tiny tadpole is actually the dignified emperor newt, which develops orange and black coloration when it reaches adulthood. Females usually lay between 80 and 240 eggs with eggs hatching after 15 to 40 days.

What’s up?

Southern cassowary chick

The small chick of the Southern cassowary looks nothing like the imposing adult that has a helmet of tough skin on its head. Eggs are incubated for around 50 days and may require parental care for up to 16 months.

Two is better than one

Kemp’s ridley turtle hatchlings

The critically endangered Kemp’s ridley turtle is one of the smallest marine turtles with adults weighing less than 100 pounds. Hatchlings are grey-black all over compared to the grey-olive adults. About 90 eggs are lain per clutch, with two to three clutches lain a year.

What’s black and yellow all over?

Corroboree frog froglets

The corroboree frog is a small frog whose defining characteristics are the lack of webbed toes and their visually stunning black and yellow coloration. Females lay around 26 eggs with tadpoles remaining in their protective egg for up to 7 months.

Just hanging out

Amur leopard cub

This is one extreme feline, since the Amur leopard resides in the frigid landscapes of the Russian Far East. These wonderful big cats have a thick fur that can grow up 7cm during winter and are among one of the rarest leopard subspecies.

Look into my eyes

dwarf crocodile photo

Infant dwarf crocodile

The pint-sized dwarf crocodile are the smallest of the bunch with adults rarely reaching 5 feet in length. Females usually lay 10 eggs per clutch and take 100 days to incubate! Young crocodiles are about 28 cm when they hatch.

Did we capture you favorite babies from the animal kingdom? If not, feel free to share your favorite Arkive baby pictures in the comments below!

Happy New Year from the Arkive Team to you!

William Lazaro, Arkive Social Media Intern, Wildscreen USA

Jan 14

Although the term ‘The Big Five’ is commonly used today by African Safari Tour operators for marketing purposes, it actually has a much darker origin. The phrase was first coined by hunters, who considered these five large African mammals to be the most difficult to hunt, due to their ferocity and the danger involved in tracking and killing them. Today however, ‘The Big Five’ are among the most popular and well studied of all African animals.

African elephant

As the largest terrestrial mammal in the world, the African elephant is also one of the most charismatic. This emotive creature has a highly complex social structure that is perhaps what makes the elephant such a favourite among us. Each closely related family group of females and calves is led by an old ‘matriarch’ female, and male elephants leave the group at puberty, forming less tight-knit alliances with other males. Interestingly, there seems to be some scientific truth behind the expression ‘elephants never forget’. Studies have revealed that the dominant female is able to build a ‘social memory’, enabling her to recognise ‘friends’. Despite their seemingly gentle nature, elephants can be extremely aggressive and dangerous when threatened.

African elephant photo

African elephants fighting

Black rhinoceros

The Critically Endangered black rhinoceros is distinguished from the African white rhinoceros by its characteristic pointed, prehensile upper lip. It is known for its inquisitive yet aggressive nature towards humans and other animals. Twice as heavy as an African buffalo, the black rhinoceros should not be mistaken as a slow animal. It is surprisingly fast on its feet, reaching speeds of up to 31 miles per hour, and is able to make sharp turns whilst running full pelt. In spite of all this, new camera technology has revealed a softer side to the black rhinoceros, which appears to show that they meet at night in order to ‘socialise’.

Photo of male black rhinoceros charging

Male black rhinoceros charging

African buffalo

The iconic African or Cape buffalo has a menacing appearance, with its brownish black coat and magnificently curved horns that can be used defensively to great effect. Alongside the hippopotamus, the African buffalo is considered to be Africa’s most dangerous animal, known to attack and even kill humans and other animals without provocation. Given their vegetarian status, this inclination highlights their extremely aggressive nature. Female bonds are strong within a buffalo herd, and if one is attacked by a predator, it will be staunchly defended by the rest of the herd. Having seen a lioness held hostage up a tree for hours by a herd of buffalo, I can vouch for the loyalty of herds!

Buffalo standing guard over a lioness in a tree © Kaz Armour

Buffalo standing guard over a lioness in a tree © Kaz Armour

Lion

Lions are the most social of all cats, living in groups of related females who often reproduce at the same time and suckle each others cubs. In many cultures the lion has become known as the ‘King of the Beasts’ due to its ferocious temperament and regal presence. Also one of the largest of the ‘big cats’, the muscular lion has powerful jaws and is able to hunt animals that are many times its own size. Male lions compete for access to females, and will commonly kill any cubs already present after taking over a pride. This behaviour is exhibited to increase the reproductive potential of the male in a short period of time.

African lions attacking a hippopotamus

African lions attacking a hippopotamus

Leopard

The graceful leopard is both majestic and elusive, its spots providing extremely effective camouflage in African habitats. Being skilled climbers, leopards will often drag their kill up into the trees to prevent it from being poached by scavengers. Leopards are powerful predators, with formidable jaws that dispatch and dismember prey with ease. They are equally able to hunt at night, with their long, sensitive whiskers enabling them to ‘feel’ their way in the darkness.

African leopard hunting

African leopard hunting

Africa’s ‘Little Five’

Whilst we talk about Africa’s most well known and ferocious animals, we mustn’t forget those smaller, but no less important. Did you know that for each of ‘the Big Five’ African animals, there is a ‘Little Five’ equivalent? These somewhat smaller, but equally impressive creatures include:

  • The rhinoceros beetle. The male has an impressive backward-curved horn on its head, hence its common name.
  • The rufous elephant shrew. These bouncing critters have kangaroo-like hind legs, allowing them to hop bipedally when moving fast.
  • The leopard tortoise. Named after its gold and black mottled shell, the leopard tortoise can live up to 50 years in captivity!
  • The buffalo weaver. These striking birds are most easily identified by their bright red rump and white head.
  • The ant lion. A winged larval insect, which digs conical shaped sand traps to catch small ants to feed on.
Rufous elephant shrew photo

Rufous elephant shrew

Watch out for our next Africa themed blog, which will explore the fascinating lesser-known African species the continent has to offer.

Kaz Armour, ARKive Text Author

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