By Stefanie Rach
Have you ever wondered why a group of lions is called a pride?
When I started studying Africa’s wildlife, I learned the collective nouns for some animals you encounter on safari: wild dogs live in a pack, antelopes are found in a herd, lions are encountered as a pride. I learnt these terms by heart without questioning their meaning.
But then I came across the phrase “a cackle of hyenas” in a book. I was taken aback and immediately had to research the matter. And indeed, since hyenas are known for calls that sound like laughter, a group of hyenas is called a cackle. Now the thing about lions also made sense to me: such proud animals form, of course, a pride.
And what about other animals? Elephants are known for their outstanding memory, so a herd can also be called a memory of elephants. The second largest land mammal, the rhinoceros, when threatened, attacks at a speed of 40 km/h and a fighting weight of up to 2.4 tonnes. It is therefore hardly surprising that a group of rhinos is called a crash. When giraffes stand still among the trees (usually to feed) they are called a tower of giraffes, but when they are on the move they form a journey. Several hippos can be called a pool, a bloat or a thunder. Butterflies form a caleidoscope, sharks a shiver and peacocks an ostentation.
I particularly like the name for a group of zebras: due to their striped appearance, they easily cause visual confusion (especially with the almost colour-blind predators) and are therefore called a dazzle.
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