Who are Africa’s Big Five and what makes them special?
BIG5 is the desire of anyone who goes on African safari. To see and be close as possible with the magnificent five African wild animals to many is dream or simply “must.” I have known many people from different parts of the world who are returning to African safari just to finally complete the BIG5 collection in their photo album.
Free and, dangerous, they are the power of African wildlife.
Did you know?
- “King of the Jungle,” Does not live in the jungle. They live in grasslands and plains
- Female lions do the hunting,usually in groups, while male lions stay home and watch over the pride. Typically male. However, the males are first to eat when the female lions come home with their kill
- Simba – Lion in Swahili, is the only Swahili word most children would recognise
We admire them. We are afraid of them. Lions are one of the only social animals in Africa. They live in prides of up to cca 15 lions. Each pride will only have one mature male lion. Once they reach maturity, young lions will leave their pride and find a territory for themselves and a lioness. Lionesses stay in the pride and take care of each other and the young one. Lions mate continuously when they are in heat, doing it up to 300 times in just a few days. As they do not have natural predators other than each other, hunting is most threatening to them. Lion cubs can however be killed by other older male lions, hyena or leopards.
Did you know?
- No matter what the movies taught you, elephants don’t like peanuts
- Elephants can recognize themselves in a mirror
- Elephants can get sunburned, and protect themselves by throwing sand on their backs and their head
- The Red elephants of Tsavo National Park are actually gray, like all other elephants. But because of the extremely red color of the soil in that part of Kenya which they are using for protection and bath they get a beautiful red color
- Elephants are the only non-human animals to mourn their dead, performing burial rituals and returning to visit graves
One of the most majestic and beautiful animals are for most people gentle giants, elephants. The largest land mammal, elephants can measure up to 3m and weigh between 6-9 tons. Their ears alone can be 2m wide. Their trunk has 40,000 muscles and can be used to eat and to hold, or as an extra hand. Their trunk’s strength is incredible. Given their size and the inefficiency of their digestive systems, elephants need to eat up to 300kg of leaves, branches that means they will undoubtedly be seen eating all the time. Elephants are also very social animals and females are the ones that take the lead. And what is more adorable than a cute little elephant? Elephants can be found in large herds in Amboseli National Park, Red Elephants in Tsavo National park and all over Kenya.
Did you know?
- They can run at speeds of up to 57 kilometers (35 miles) per hour
- The diet of an African Buffalo consists of grass and other vegetation. They need to drink once per day so they are never to far away from a water source
They are considered to be one of the most dangerous African animals
Buffalo can look peaceful and maybe lazy but are believed to be the most dangerous of the Big Five when agitated. They are also vengeful and are known to attack someone who injured them, even years after the fact. They are also incredibly strong and capable of tipping a car over.Given that they eat a lot of grass, they need water to digest it and therefore cannot be found in desert habitats.
Did you know?
- Rhinos are speed machines. They can run up to 30 – 40 miles per hour; up to 40km/h the fastest human can run 15 miles an hour, so finding a tree to climb is a better strategy than trying to outrun a rhino!
- Relative to their large body size, rhinoceros have small brains
- Rhinos are loners, but you can find them occasionally in the savannas in smaller herds
- They are very shy and avoid people
- They sleep during the daytime and are active at dusk and at night
The most endangered of the Big Five, are rhinos. Each rhino has two horns and they are mostly killed for them. Of the many species of rhino, the black rhino and the white northern rhino are the most endangered. There are only four of them existing in the world, all of which live in Ol Pejeta conservancy in a protected semi-wild large area that is continuously under surveillance and protection. Rhinos can run fast, and are often found covered in mud which acts as a way to keep cool and as sun screen.
Did you know?
- Leopards’ ears can hear five times more sounds that the human ear
- Mother leopards teach their cubs to swim, climb, hunt and how to protect themselves from predators
- They are also very strong swimmers
- Their spots are being more squared in Southern Africa and more rounded in the East Africa
The most majestic, elegant and beautiful of the wild animals, leopards are the best stalkers and predators.Solitary and nocturnal, they hide in the treetops during the day. They are large and strong, able to carry an entire impala or zebra weighting a few times their size up a tree to preserve it from lions. Their spots are adapted to the vegetation of the area they live in.Leopards are as shy as they are skilled. At night, they follow their prey in complete silence, only their eyes visible in the dark, until they are really close. They then jump on it and kill it fiercely.Contrary to what you may think, leopards are cats that love water and they are strong swimmers and fishers.
There is no guarantee that you will see magnificent Big5 during your safari. Safari is a matter of luck. I’ve been waiting for my “favorite” one for almost ten years and we have met few years ago. Short, but enough for few of my favorite pictures. Quickly he climbed and disappeared in the treetops…
Good luck! I wish you a great and unforgettable African safari. And of course BIG5!