The Big 5
The Big Five
Originally used only by hunters, the term ‘Big Five’ refers to five of Africa’s greatest wild animals – lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo and rhino. During the bygone hunting era, the term “Big Five” still conjures up the romance. Moreover, it added to the excitement of Africa’s exotic destinations and experiences.
Imagine watching the sunset over the horizon whilst you capture the moment of a pride of lions stalking their prey. Watching a buffalo strolling to a water hole with strength and size makes it more likely to kill a human than any other mammal.
Another is the almost extinct rhino with its extraordinary horns and bad temper. Yet another of the Big Five is the leopard with its beauty and remarkable speed and skill to hunt.
Many travellers regard a visit to South Africa as incomplete without having spotted and perhaps photographed, the Big Five.
The Big Five – legends of the wilderness which have become synonymous with Africa.
The Lion (Panthera leo) is a large carnivorous feline of Africa and northwest India, having a short tawny coat, a tufted tail, and, in the male, a heavy mane around the neck and shoulders.
The African elephant (Loxodonta Africana) is a huge herbivore with thick, almost hairless skin, a long, flexible, prehensile trunk, upper incisors forming long curved tusks ivory, and large, fan-shaped ears. There are two distinct African elephant species: African Forest Elephant (Loxodonta cyclotis) and the African Bush Elephant (Loxodonta africana).
The African Buffalo or Cape Buffalo (Syncerus caffer) is a large horned bovid. It is the most dangerous of the Big Five, reportedly causing the most hunter deaths. The Leopard (Panthera pardus) is a large, carnivorous feline having either tawny fur with dark rosette-like markings or black fur.
Leopards are the most difficult to acquire hunting licenses for. They were difficult to hunt due to their behaviour and nocturnal feeding habits. Today, illegal leopard hunting usually overlaps several weeks of baiting.
The last one is the rhinoceros is a large, thick-skinned herbivore having one or two upright horns on the snout. There are two distinct species of rhinoceros; the Black Rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis) and the White Rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum). Both of these species have two upright horns on the snout.