The term “Big Five” originally referred to the difficulty in hunting the lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and African buffalo. These five large African mammal species were known to be the most dangerous and it was considered a feat by trophy hunters to bring them home.
Today, however, the expression takes on a much gentler form, referring to seeing the Big Five—not shooting them—but during a life-changing African Safari on the African continent.
Here are just a few facts about the Big Five to impress your future safari mates with.
1) Buffalo’s primary predator is the lion. Buffalo will try to rescue another member who has been caught. They have been observed killing a lion after it has killed a member of the group.
2) The African buffalo is not believed to be closely related to the water buffalo even though they superficially resemble each other. And unlike the water buffalo, the dangerous African buffalo has never been domesticated.
3) Leopards are excellent at climbing trees. They’ll often safeguard their kill in a tree to prevent lions and hyenas from stealing it. They are also strong swimmers and occasionally eat fish and crabs.
4) The leopard is nocturnal, solitary and secretive, staying hidden during the day. They are typically the last of the Big Five to be seen during a safari.
5 ) African elephants communicate across large distances at a low frequency that cannot be heard by humans.
6) Rhinos have poor vision and will sometimes attack trees and rocks by accident. However, their hearing and sense of smell are excellent, thus often making up for their poor eyesight.
7) Rhinos are herbivorous animals (eat only plants). They eat grass, shrubs, leaves, and shoots.
8) Typically, the darker a lion’s mane, the older he is.
9) Females are mainly the hunters of the pride, while males only hunt when a big kill is involved
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Click here to learn more about the Big 5 and Africa on the Official South African Tourism website: