What’s The Big Five & What’s Special about Spotting Them?

We as humans are always interested in wildlife and even more curious about the Big Five. If you hear of someone planning a Safari, the obvious questions would be, are you going to Africa and do you want to see the big five? The big five consists of the leopard, lion, elephant, buffalo and rhinoceros. 

Leopard – Beautiful and elegant cat

The leopard is a powerfully built and elegant predator. The leopard is not one of the easiest to find as they are elusive and secretive, however, if you do spot one it would likely be resting in the branches of a tree or even at a waterhole. During summer most animals can be spotted in the afternoon at the waterhole and there is a quiet agreement between animals as to when each gets a chance to visit the waterhole. The leopard is the smaller of all the jungle cats but don’t let them fool you as they are the most dangerous and very aggressive even though they are so beautiful don’t try and get too close to them. 

Lion – The King of the Jungle

Lions are one of the wild animals everyone wishes to see. These majestic cats can look like little placid kittens one minute and the next this wild attacking beast as he leaps into action for a kill. The lion is one of the easiest to see as they don’t hide away, they are not shy at all, they love to bask in the heat of the sun or under trees when it gets too hot. Against the dry grass, they blend in very nicely with their surroundings. The female is the hunter but the male is the first to eat, then the cubs and lastly the female who has done all the work, most hunting is done at night. The females are the providers and the males are the protectors and it works well amongst them. 

Elephant – Africa’s gentle giants

Although lions are on the top of tourists lists of ‘have to see’ the elephant really holds the hearts of many people. Elephants are giant sized animals when fully grown and yet their size does not seem to matter, they are considered the gentle giants of the animal kingdom. One would say its the gentle look they have in their tiny eyes. You will often find them in a pool of water, either cooling down or fooling around, they love the water. Unfortunately, today these beautiful creatures are hunted for their valuable tusks and have caused them to be careful around people, don’t mistake their gentle looks because they will become very angry especially if you get close to their young. Of the Big Five group, the elephant is the most photogenic with the lion being a very close second.

Buffalo – Strong character

The buffalo is a sight to behold and can usually be found at the water’s edge or playing in the mud. They fear nothing in the wild and with its demoralizing manner will stare down any would-be attacker or threat to himself or herd. The buffalo is known as the ‘mafia’ of the wild and is known to frighten off even the king of the jungle himself. They do not like to be disturbed as they go about their daily routines so don’t let their playful looks fool you as they are documented to be the animal that kills more people than any other.

Rhinoceros – magnificent and rare

Now, this is one of those rare animals that everyone hopes to see but seldom gets the opportunity because the rhino is endangered, and unfortunately there aren’t many left in the world. If you are fortunate to see one and you get to mark him off your big five lists then you have been blessed, you can call your safari a huge success as not many get that chance. All the species of Rhinoceros are on the endangered list as numbers are dangerously low and if not conserved, they will become extinct.

Best places in Africa to go on a safari to get a glimpse of the big five would be: 

Kenya

A safari tour in Kenya can almost guarantee tourists seeing the big five. There are a few to choose from and each is just as beautiful. There are the Masai Mara, Amboseli National Park, Lake Nakuru National Park just to name a few. The Masai Mara is known for the Wildebeest Migration, this takes place late November and December, the herds migrate to the short grass plains of the Serengeti.

South Africa

South Africa has so much to offer in the way of big five game reserve accommodation – and of course various wildlife species. Most popular and well known to all, would have to be the Kruger National Park, which borders Limpopo and Mpumalanga, of which Sabi Sand Reserve is part of Kruger National Park. However, although these are the most visited and most well-known, do yourself a favour and look up smaller, more exclusive safari lodges as they’re less crowded, more personal and guarantee much better sightings. 

Botswana

The Okavango Delta prides itself with wildlife and many Game Parks to name a few:

Chobe National Park, Moremi Game Reserve and Mashatu Game Reserve and the Savuti Game Reserve.

Tanzania

Tanzania has a variety of wildlife and bird species. Tanzania prides itself with the world’s largest game reserve, the Serengeti being the most popular as well as: Dunia Camp, Kwihala Camp, Kimondo Camp, Namiri Camp and Jabali Ridge to name a few.

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