Three words you will undoubtedly come across when planning your safari adventure through Africa: The Big Five. Three words that belong to Africa as the salt in the soup. But what does the mysterious term the Big Five mean anyway?
Who or what are the Big Five?
Tour operators have “borrowed” the term from the game hunting industry and adapted it effectively for their own marketing efforts. Originally the term Big Five meant those five animals that gave their hunters immense headaches because of their unpredictable behaviour. The advertising of the Big Five worked more than well as it generates pure excitement when people can cross these five animals of their bucket list.
Which animals are the Big Five?
The African elephant is the largest amongst the Big Five and also the largest land animal. Elephants have a calm attitude, as long as you leave them alone. If threatened it can be quite a scary site with it’s 12000lbs trumpeting and flapping ears towards you.
5 fun facts about the African Elephant:
- An adult elephant consumes up to 375lbs plants per day. That said no animal in Africa does more damage to vegetation.
- Baby elephants are breastfed up to the age of 4 to 5 years. This is also the time when their tusks start to grow.
- With 10 to 12 years, the young elephant leaves it’s family
- Elephants are very communicative and social contemporaries. They use a variety of sounds to communicate with each other, which can be heard up to 6 miles away
- Elephants live in herds of up to 100 animals
The name Cape Buffalo summarises all four species of the African Buffalo. The Cape Buffalo is one of Africa’s most dangerous animals as it has killed more hunters than any other animal. Even a single lion would not dare to attack the Cape Buffalo without the help of his buddies.
Fun facts about the Cape Buffalo:
- Cape Buffalos live in large herds that can count up to 1,000 animals
- Cape Buffalos have to drink water dialy. So you will find them near water holes, lakes or rivers
- Cape Buffalos protect their calfs by taking them in the middle of the herd
- The Ox-Pecker is the “cleaning lady” on the back of the Cape Buffalo. He frees him from all kind of parasites
- Cape Buffalos are hunted because of their meat. Their number is currently estimated to be 1 million animals in Africa
The leopard exist numerous in the African national parks, however it is the hardest to spot. It hides in trees and uses them as an observing platform.
5 Fun facts about the African Leopard:
- It’s fur provides the leopard the perfect camouflage
- Leopards are solitary and won’t stay at one place longer than a few days
- Leopards pull their prey into trees to protect it from the enemies called lion and hyena
- Leopards can jump up to 10 feet (3m) high
- Leopards are excellent swimmers
5 Fun Facts about the African Lion:
- Lions live in prides
- A lion sleeps up to 20 hours a day
- Female lions support each other in rearing the cubs
- Female lions hunt more often than male lions
- A lion’s roar can be heard up to 5 miles (8 km) away
In Africa, there are two types of rhino: the black and white rhino. The black rhino is highly endangered and threatened by poachers. Their population is currently estimated to be 4,000 animals all over Africa. The number of the white rhino is just about 17,000 animals, although a large part of them are only to be found in South Africa.
5 fun facts about the African Rhino:
- An adult white rhino weighs up to 6000 lbs
- Rhinos are short-sighted and short tempered
- A rhino pregnancy lasts between 15 to 16 months
- A rhino horn weighs up to 6 to 8 lbs
- A rhinoceros can speed up to 35 mph
You want to be close up to the Big Five in the wilderness? Viva Africa Tours will take you on an unforgettable safari through Tanzania’s most impressive national parks. Dare a look at our Tanzania safaris and plan your next vacation.