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These are three words you will undoubtedly come across when planning your safari adventure through Africa:

The Big Five. The photographic safari industry borrowed the term from the game hunting industry and adapted it for their own marketing efforts. The term Big Five was given to the five mammals that were the most dangerous to hunt because of their unpredictable behaviour.

Today, for safari enthusiasts, photographing the Big Five, is very sought after and ticking these off your list, is highly regarded in game viewing circles.

So, who are The Big Five?

The African Elephant


The Cape Buffalo


The African Leopard


The African Lion


The African Rhino


The AFRICAN ELEPHANT is the largest of the Big Five and also the largest land animal in the world.

Fascinating facts about the African elephant:

  • An adult elephant eats up to 375 lbs of plant material a day
  • Baby elephants are breastfed up to the age of four or five years. This is also the time when their tusks start to grow
  • At aged ten to twelve, a young elephant will leave its family
  • Elephants are very communicative and sociable. They use a wide range of sounds to communicate with each other, sounds which can be heard up to six miles away
  • Elephants live in herds of up to 100

The name CAPE BUFFALO covers four species of the African Buffalo. It’s one of Africa’s most dangerous animals and a formidable adversary for lion – Africa’s supreme predator.

Fascinating facts about the Cape Buffalo:

  • Cape Buffalo live in large herds – up to 1 000 animals
  • They need to drink daily, so you will find them near water holes, lakes and rivers
  • Buffalo protect their calves by placing them in the middle of the herd so that they are protected by all the adults
  • The Ox-Pecker is a bird who is the Cape Buffalo’s personal cleaner. The Ox-Pecker will sit on the Cape Buffalo’s back, eating all the parasites and making the buffalo much more comfortable

The LEOPARD is common in many of the African national parks. It is master of disguise and can be elusive.

Fascinating facts about the African leopard:

  • Its coat provides perfect camouflage
  • Leopards are roaming loners: they’re solitary and won’t stay in one place for more than a few days
  • Leopards will pull their kill into trees so that lions and hyenas can’t get to it
  • Leopards are extremely dexterous – excellent swimmers and capable jumping ten feet high from a standing postion

THE AFRICAN LION. For thousands of years we’ve been fascinated by this beautiful, elegant and robust member of the cat family. Lions are impressive and excellent hunters, although you will more likely find them resting in the shade.

Fascinating facts about the lion:

  • A lion can sleep for up to 20 hours a day
  • Female lions support each other in rearing their cubs
  • Female lions are responsible for most of the hunting, whilst the males are quick to arrive at mealtime!
  • A lion’s roar can be heard up to 5 miles (8 km) away

There are two types of RHINO in Africa: the black and the white rhino. The black rhino is highly endangered with their population currently estimated to be only 4,000 animals throughout Africa. There are larger numbers of the white rhino – about 17,000 animals. Most of these occur in South Africa, but are in recent years are under serious threat of poaching.

Fascinating facts about the African rhino:

  • An adult white rhino is big, weighing in at an impressive 6000 lbs
  • Rhinos are short-sighted and short-tempered
  • A rhino’s gestation period is 15- 16 months
  • A rhino horn weighs up to 6 to 8 lbs
  • Although bulky, rhino are surprisingly fast, capable of speeds of 35 mph

Information courtsey of African Geographic

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