34 imagesThe cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) is an atypical member of the cat family (Felidae) that is unique in its speed, while lacking climbing abilities. Therefore this animal is placed in its own genus, Acinonyx. It is the fastest land animal, reaching speeds between 112 and 120 km/h (70 and 75 mph) in short bursts covering distances up to 460 m (1,500 ft), and has the ability to accelerate from 0 to 110 km/h (68 mph) in three seconds, faster than most supercars. Recent studies confirm the cheetah's status as fastest land animal on earth. The word "cheetah" is derived from the Sanskrit word citrak-ya, meaning "variegated body", via the Hindi.
102 imagesThese African elephants are native to a wide variety of habitats including semi-desert scrub, open savannas and dense forest regions. Their habitat ranges from sea level to 16,000 feet (4,877 m). The African elephant is the largest living land animal and weighs up to 5,400 kg. It inhabits the Savannah, brush, forest, river valleys, and semi-desert regions of Africa south of the Sahara Desert. Besides its greater size, it differs from the Asian elephant in having larger ears and tusks, a sloping forehead, and two "fingers" at the tip of its trunk, compared to only one in the Asian species. African elephants are capable of making a wide variety of vocal sounds, such as grunts, purrs, bellows, whistles, and the obvious trumpeting. Elephants and people have always had an interesting relationship. People have had to contend with elephants destroying their crops. However, it is the elephants who have had the greatest burden. They have been hunted and poached for their ivory tusks, been prevented from migrating between feeding and water sites, and have lost due to conversion into agricultural areas and human dwellings. While the whole elephant population throughout Africa is declining, some countries in southern Africa have the opposite problem: too many elephants. The future of the elephant in Africa is a complex issue that will need to resolve overpopulation in some areas and under population in others. The African elephant can be quickly distinguished from the Indian elephant by its greater size and its larger ears, which may reach a length of about 5 ft from top to bottom. The African elephant is tallest at the shoulder, has more wrinkled skin, and bears tusks in both male and female. The Indian elephant is tallest at the arch of the back, bears tusks in the male only, and has one lobe instead of two on its trunk.
6 imagesThe Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis) is the smallest of the eight species of pelican, although it is a large bird in nearly every other regard. It is 106-137 cm (42-54 in) in length, weighs from 2.75 to 5.5 kg (6-12 lb) and has a wingspan from 1.83 to 2.5 m (6 to 8.2 ft). It lives strictly on coasts from Washington and Virginia south to northern Chile and the mouth of the Amazon River, as well as the island of Saut d'Eau in Trinidad and Tobago. Some immature birds may stray to inland freshwater lakes. After nesting, North American birds move in flocks further north along the coasts, returning to warmer waters for winter. Their young are hatched in broods of about 3, and eat around 150 lbs. of fish in the 8-10 month period they are cared for. This bird is distinguished from the American White Pelican by its brown body and its habit of diving for fish from the air, as opposed to co-operative fishing from the surface. It eats mainly herring-like fish. Groups of Brown Pelicans often travel in single file, flying low over the water's surface. The nest location varies from a simple scrape on the ground on an island to a bulky stick nest in a low tree. These birds nest in colonies, usually on islands.