Seeing the ‘Big Five’ of Africa has been a dream for most tourists wishing to explore this continent. They say the ‘Big Five’ was coined as a result of these animals being difficult to hunt on foot and are among the most dangerous animals. Today the expression of the Big Five takes on a gentler form, referring to ‘seeing’ the Big Five on a wildlife safari rather than hunting then.
The Big Five consists of the African Elephant, Black Rhinoceros, African or Cape Buffalo, Lion, and Leopard. Countries, where all the Big Five can be found, include Angola, Botswana, Zambia, Uganda, Namibia, Ethiopia, South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, and Malawi.
The African elephant is a large herbivore with thick, almost hairless skin, a long, flexible, prehensile trunk, upper incisors forming long curved tusks of ivory, and large, fan-shaped ears. There are two distinct species of African elephant, the African forest elephant, and the African bush elephant. Elephants are difficult to hunt because, despite their large size, they are able to hide in tall grass and are more likely to charge than the other species.
Black rhinoceros is a large herbivore having two upright horns on the nasal bridge. Its thick protective skin, formed from layers of collagen positioned in a lattice structure, is very hard to puncture. It is now critically endangered, and hunting is extremely limited due to this.
African or Cape Buffalo are large horned bovid and are the only animals within the Big Five that are not endangered or threatened. The Cape buffalo is considered by many to be the most dangerous of the Big Five with wounded animals reported to ambush and attack pursuers.
Lions are large carnivorous felines of Africa and northwest India, having a short, tawny coat.ufted tail, and in the male, a heavy mane around the neck and shoulders. Sadly lions are desirable to hunters because of the very real danger involved in hunting them.
This large, carnivorous feline, has either tawny fur with dark rosette-like markings or black fur. The leopard is considered the most difficult of the ‘Big Five’ to spot because of their nocturnal and secretive nature. They are wary of humans, so will take flight in the face of danger. The leopard is most active between sunset and sunrise, although it may hunt during the day in some areas. Leopards can be found in the savanna grasslands, brushland and forested areas. They prey on a wide range of species, from insects, rodents, and reptiles, to birds and mammals, including antelopes as large as elands, and even giraffes. They are strong swimmers, so sometimes they eat fish and even crabs.
The ‘Big Five’ are animals that have become major concerns for wildlife conservationists in recent years. The African lion, African leopard, and African bush elephant are all classified as vulnerable. The southern white rhinoceros is classified as near threatened while the black rhinoceros is classified as critically endangered, so hunting them is greatly restricted for the latter. The African buffalo is the most popular big five game animal to hunt, as its conservation status is least concern, but it is experiencing a population decline in uncontrolled areas due to poaching and urbanization.
We have plenty of safaris to many of Tanzania’s best ‘Big Five’ game reserves and national parks, so contact us if you are searching for an incredible African ‘Big Five’ wildlife experience. Our experts are ready to tailor-make a Big Five’ African safari for you!