The phrase “Big Five Game” was coined by white hunters and refers to the five most difficult animals in Africa to hunt on foot.
Which member of the ” Big 5″ do you long to see? The good news is that you won’t have to choose should you volunteer at our Big 5 Conservation Project!
Better known as “King of the Beasts”, the lion is a must-see on any tourist’s (or local’s) list. Magnificent in stature this (really) large cat has incredible power and hunting abilities.
The African Elephant
The African elephant is the largest land mammal and perhaps the continent’s most charismatic creature. Visitors to Africa’s wildlife reserves and wilderness areas are captivated by the power and grace of these magnificent animals and by their apparent sensitivity and compassion.
The White Rhinoceros
Perhaps the first thing people wonder about the white rhinoceros is why it has its name. It is certainly not white in colour and actually has the same skin tone as its cousin, the black rhino. In fact, the name is thought to have been derived from the Dutch word “weid” meaning “wide” – in reference to the animal’s broad, wide mouth. The white rhino is a grazer; its low-hanging head and humped shoulders help it to eat grass.
The Black Rhinoceros
The black rhinoceros is smaller and more aggressive than the white rhino. It has a hooked lip, carrying its head high on its shoulders. It is a browser of short woody trees and shrubs, using its pointed upper lip to grasp leaves and twigs. Its grey, wrinkled skin varies in colour due to the mud and dust in which it frequently wallows to cool down and protect against flies and sun.
The two species of African rhino are similar in height, averaging about 1.6m at the shoulder, but the black rhinoceros has roughly half the mass of a white rhinoceros, weighing in at a demure 1000 kg.
The African Buffalo
Closely related to the domestic cow, the African buffalo is one of the most successful and perhaps ecologically important mammals on the African continent. Buffalo are completely dependent upon surface water, so are absent from arid and semi-arid regions. Not surprisingly, however, they provide good meat and few now survive beyond the borders of wildlife reserves and other protected areas. Buffalo are also hosts for several diseases which are lethal to domestic cattle and so have been eliminated from areas suitable for ranchlands.
Few animals possess the mysterious aura of the leopard. Like the lion, the leopard has been held in awe by generations of people across Africa, the Middle East and Asia. Although an infrequent man-killer, leopards elicit fear and dread among rural people whose domestic animals may be at risk from these cunning predators. The leopard is the most adaptable of the large predators and may still be found in close proximity to man, even, sometimes, on the outskirts of large cities. It is able to survive in just about any environment (The body of a leopard was once found in the snowfields on Mount Kilimanjaro at an altitude of some 4500 metres!)