5. Wildebeests – 50 mph
Wildebeests can run as fast as 50 mph, especially if they feel threatened. There are two types of wildebeests: black and blue. They are members of the Bovidae family along with cows, goats and antelopes. Both the black and blue species are native to Africa and adapted to the grassy lands in the southern areas. The species are different mostly because they live in different regions and eat different foods, and the distinction can be made based on body colors and the orientations of the horns.
The black wildebeests migrate more often, but the blue wildebeests are more abundant in number. Despite the fact that they are hunted by animals and humans, their populations remain high and stable. Wildebeests are found in the southern and eastern parts of Africa from South Africa to Zimbabwe. Even though they used to roam lands freely, they are now confined to nature reserves and national parks due to excessive hunting.
In East Africa, large groups of blue wildebeests prepare to migrate as the season changes from dry to rainy. They migrate to find more food and water and to avoid predators. Along the way, many of them drown in rivers or get eaten by predators like lions, crocodiles and cheetahs.
There are many ways that wildebeests work to reduce predation, which is fascinating to attempt to understand. In general, they are strong, fast creatures that can attack their predators singly or in large groups. They usually move as one in a swarm, and the strongest members herd around the youngest ones to protect them from harm. Zebras commonly travel with wildebeest to keep the numbers of predators down, too. Whenever there are calls of distress from other animals, the wildebeest stay on alert.
4. Ostrich – 60 mph
Ostriches are the earth’s largest, tallest birds and are known for being flightless. What many people may not know is that these animals run really fast – up to 60 mph. In Africa, humans even hop on their backs and use them in races, as they can maintain a 60 mph speed for half an hour and cover many miles of ground. With their powerful legs and wings, they can take 3.5 meter strides through the air, and even when not provoked by other animals or humans, they are often seen running.
Ostriches are located throughout the southern and eastern regions of Africa. Their omnivorous diet allows them to eat plants and smaller animals, but they mostly eat plants. They do not require water like humans do because they derive this moisture from plant matter, and in captivity, they can consume over 3 kg of plants per day. When they reproduce, they lay eggs that weigh as much as 1.5 kg, and these eggs are some of the largest and most prominent in the world.
For centuries, ostriches have been hunted for their large eggs, meat and very large feathers. Their feathers are used for decorations along with fashion accessories. In the past, these birds were found all over most of Africa and in some parts of southern Asia. These days, however, their numbers have been drastically reduced. There was a subspecies of ostrich that roamed near the Syrian desert, but they have become extinct since 1941, but some humans have tried to reintroduce the ostrich populations in the Middle East. Despite these facts, the ostriches are not on the lists of highly endangered species.
3. Springbok – 60 mph
Like pronghorns, springbok are very agile with sharp senses. When very agitated, these animals can run up to 60 mph, making them some of the fastest mammals in the world. Springbok get the “spring” in their name because they leapt as high as 9 feet in the air.
Along with their leaps, springbok are recognizable by the soft white fur on their faces and bellies. The rest of their bodies are covered in light reddish brown fur. They are extremely lightweight with an average of 60 to 100 pounds and consume mostly plant foods. During the hot summers, they dine on grasses, but during the dry winters, they look for shrubs.
Springbok are some of the most commonly found types of antelope in southern Africa. They live in dry, open plains where they are hunted by both animals and humans. For humans, they are the most desired species to hunt because of their venison meat.
In a feat called pronking, springbok jump as high as 13 feet in the air. They curve their bodies, stiffen their legs and point their heads down toward the ground. They continue to repeat these series of landings and leaps.
The Springbok used to exist in large numbers in the southern parts of Africa, and they roamed lands covered in bushes, shrubs and grasses. They used to migrate in large herds known as treckbokken, but these treks have discontinued. Extreme hunting practices have reduced the populations significantly, and throughout the late 1800s, the springbok was almost eliminated due to hunting, but the numbers have since been reintroduced. People are continuing to manage the populations effectively, and there is currently not a long-term threat to their survival.