One of the main reasons we all embark on an African safari is to meet the big five. A safari without the big five is like a salad without vegetables. I will present to you the big five list and answer some of the myths associated with this famous group.
But just wait a moment, why are they called the big five? Are they really the biggest?
This term the big five appeared at the end of the nineteenth century, mainly from the hunters. The hunters were referring to the most dangerous and difficult animals to hunt on foot irrespective of their size. I hope you now understand the origins of this term, let’s now turn our attention to each of the members of the big five.
It is one of the smallest members of the big five, but the most agile and also feared. A solitary animal that is territorial. It is usually seen on top of trees where it feels safe and a hunting spot for prey.
Leopards mainly eat prey on top of the tree where there is less disturbance from the other carnivores.
They do not have a good relationship with lions since the latter see them like prey. Most leopards have light skin and black spots, but you may also find a black skinned leopard known as the black panther.
It is one of the most dangerous members of the big five because of its unreliable and erratic behaviour. Buffaloes live in groups that serve as protection against predators like lions.
Both the males and females have horns, but the males’ horns are curved towards upwards and uniting at the centre. They form a plate tha save as a protection base. The horns give buffalos an excellent protection tool against their main rivals the lions. Their size is also an advantage since they weigh almost three times as much as lions. When lions are hunting leopards there is a possibility that one of them will end up dead.
Of the five known species of rhinoceros, two species are found in Africa, the black rhino and the white rhino. Both of them are in danger of extinction, due to illegal poaching, especially the black one.
The most distinctive feature about the rhinos is their big size and horns. They are considered some of the bulkiest animals on earth. Their horns can also grow considerably big. Rhinos are herbivores by nature and depending on their species they feed on specific types of vegetation.
The main threat to rhinos’ existence are human beings. They are hunted for their horns which are in huge demand in Asia because of their supposed aphrodisiac benefits. Just like other animals, as human settlement expands most rhinos find their habitats becoming smaller and smaller.
Just like rhinos , the elephants are hunted for their ivory tasks that are in demand especially in Asia. They are social animals that spend the rest of their lives in the same group. The most distinctive features about them is their huge size, large trunk, ears and tusks, they can measure up to four metres, weigh up to six thousand kilograms and live up to seventy years. Their shape and size earn them respect for both animals and humans.
“The king of the jungle” is one of the most sought after animals when it comes to safari tours. Their imposing physical appearance and yellowish-dark colour give them an air of invincibility.
They possess a great sense of vision and hearing which they use when hunting prey and protecting their territory.
Their diet is mainly carnivorous and they feed on big mammals , although they can prey on small mammals , birds and reptiles. Thanks to their strong jaws and claws, very few animals can resist them.
These are some of the facts about the big five. If your curiosity has been roused and you want to see them in person then book one of our safari tours. Here is a link to a national geographic video to learn more about the big five.