The big 5 have a reputation throughout the world. And for good reason. Africa plays home to very unique animal and plant life. If you don’t already know, the big 5 are: lion, elephant, buffalo, rhinoceros and leopard. But how did this name come about and why do we still use it today?
Big 5 Origins
Unfortunately the origins of the big 5 are not so positive. More than one hundred years ago when game was plenty and Africa was a slightly wilder beast, the term was used by the so-called “great white hunters”. Back then, “big 5” was coined as professional hunters tried to capture as many trophies as they could in the shortest time frame. This became a popular pastime for seasoned travellers to Africa. The trophies elevating their status in society back home. Make no mistake, hunting the big 5 on foot was considered a very dangerous game. These days the only captures we encourage are with you camera.
Fabled as the king of the beasts, lions roam the planes of and are usually at the top of the food chain when around other predators. That being said, even the largest lion will want to watch it’s step when faced with a fierce buffalo or large elephant.
Perhaps the most nimble of the big cats, leopard love the safety of rock and cave structures. They have a beautiful coat which easily identifies them. Leopard are quite elusive and prefer to hunt at night under the cover of dark.
The worlds largest and heaviest land animal. They strike me as the elders of the animal world. But don’t be fooled, elephants uproot trees with great ease and do not like to be threatened. Elephants are highly social animals that are ruled by a matriarch.
It is easy to be fooled by their relaxed nature but buffalo are formidable opponents. There are no shortage of stories about lion having to retreat and lick their wounds while underestimating the ability of these fierce creatures to defend themselves. They have fairly well developed senses but in particular rely on their excellent hearing to alert them to danger.
A species fighting for survival from the ultimate enemy, man. Rhino’s are built like tanks and yet can run at amazing speeds. A fully grown rhino can reach speeds of an incredible 40km/h. They have poor eyesight but excellent smell and hearing.