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  • Writer's pictureJolene Botha

Our 10 Favorite Collective Nouns for African Animals

Names for groups of animals are thought to originate from the Book of Saint Albans, published in 1486, in which many of the collective nouns for animals were chosen simply for the humorous images they conjure up, or for their alliteration.  While this list is by no means exhaustive, we love the wit behind these names for African animals, and think you will, too.

What do you call a group of giraffes? A TOWER of giraffes!

Read on for nine more of our favorite names for groups of African animals.

So, what do you call a group of buffaloes?

Cape Buffaloes

An OBSTINANCY of buffaloes

That stare says it all, and it is backed up by an “obstinancy” that can number up to 1,000 animals in well-watered savannas. Unlike other bovines, this one is quite dangerous to humans, which explains its inclusion in the “Big Five” of African game.

What do you call a group of hippos?

Hippos near Rekero Camp in Masai Mara Kenya

A BLOAT of hippos

When you weigh 5,000 to 8,000 pounds, the unflattering “bloat” sure beats alternative descriptions! Spending their days submerged, these massive animals leave the water at sunset to graze on land, walking as far as six miles in an evening.

What do you call a group of leopards?

Leopard cubs

A LEAP of Leopards

This collective noun doesn’t get a lot of use, since leopards are famously solitary animals, excluding the first two years spent with mom. Leap is descriptive as well as alliterative, as leopards often hunt from trees, striking their prey with a deadly pounce.

What do you call a group of zebras?

A DAZZLE of Zebras

Dazzling to behold, a group of wildly striped bodies may hinder a predator’s ability to pick a single animal out of the herd. But, because each animal’s stripes are as unique as a human’s fingerprint, the pattern may help zebras identify one another.

What do you call a group of baboons? (other than trouble!)

Juvenile baboons, photo by Mary Beth Hatten

A TROOP of Baboons

Troops can be comprised of dozens, or even hundreds, of animals, governed by a complex hierarchy. Troop members spend hours a day grooming one another, and also head out in search of food in a cohesive unit.

What do you call a group of wildebeests?

Wildebeest herd, photo by Frank Andre

A CONFUSION of wildebeests

Confusion is what you get when over a million wildebeests migrate, their movements subject to weather patterns and hungry predators. Alternatively “an implausibility of wildebeests” may describe the animal’s ungainly appearance, said to have been assembled from spare parts.

What do you call a group of elephants?

Elephants, photo by Dahlia Siegel Zigmund

A MEMORY of elephants

“An elephant never forgets,” and researchers believe that elephants, particularly matriarchs, possess remarkable recall power that may assist in the group’s survival.

What do you call a group of mongooses?

Dwarf Mongoose

A BUSINESS of mongooses

These creative omnivores really get down to business when it’s time to eat! Their diet includes small animals, reptiles, insects — and as Rikki Tikki Tavi illustrated, some will even attack a snake. Their chatter to one another includes discrete units of sound that can sound vaguely human.

What do you call a group of cheetahs?

Cheetahs, photo by Mary Beth Hatten

A COALITION of cheetahs

Male cheetahs may form coalitions of two to three members, generally brothers, to increase their territory range, and defend it from other cheetahs. Females, by contrast, are generally solitary, except when raising a litter.

The World is your Classroom: Meet African Animals on our 2018 Safari for All Generations

The first version of this article was posted on 4 Aug 2016 at 1:41 PM.


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