The African Big Five


If you need a safari to see the African big five don’t look further! Just start planning for a safari in East Africa. The Wildlife’s ‘Big Five’ can easily be seen in Tanzania and Kenya. For those who do not know the big five, this word was coined by hunters. It comes from the phrase Big Five, which was conceived many years ago by big-game hunters and refers to the five large mammals that were sought in Africa.

The term is still widely used in the context of African safaris and wildlife and many tour operators use this word in advertising safaris that feature watching these animals.

The Big Five Animals consists of the lion, the African elephant, the African buffalo, the leopard and the black rhinoceros. All these animals are amongst the most dangerous of mammals. The members of the Big Five were chosen for the difficulty in hunting them and not for their size; hence the leopard is included, and the enormous hippopotamus is not.

  • the lion is a large carnivorous cat, having a short tawny coat, a tufted tail, and, in the male, a heavy mane around the neck and shoulders.
  • the African elephant is a very large herbivore having 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: African forest elephant and the African bush elephant.
  • the African (or Cape) buffalo is a large horned bovid. It is the most dangerous of the Big Five, reportedly causing the most deaths.
  • the leopard is a large, carnivorous cat having either tawny fur with dark rosette-like markings or black fur, and has largely nocturnal feeding habits.

The black rhinoceros is a large, thick-skinned, herbivore having one or two upright horns on the snout.

Would you like to see the big five? Why not try an African safari in Kenya or Tanzania?