Historically the use of “The Big 5” as a phrase came from the white hunters who classed these five species as the most difficult and dangerous animals to hunt on foot in Africa. The 5 are:
Nowadays of course most of us prefer to hunt The Big 5 to shoot with a camera rather than a gun and with the current disturbing reports that ivory selling is
still rife and hunting for Lions continues all these species apart from the Cape Buffalo are on the endangered or vulnerable list and we must be doing all we can to protect these animals. For example in the Phinda National Park in South Africa, as part of your safari you can take part in Phinda’s rhino darting programme, where you can go out with experts to dart rhinos to plant microchips in their horns and ear marking for future identification; a more positive holiday experience than shooting to kill in my opinion.
Both Lions and Elephants are social animals and live in groups and so create wonderful photographic opportunities. Lion prides are often made up of 20-30 with maybe 2 or 3 male lions present and in the Masai Mara National Park you are guaranteed to see them. It is here that is also home to the largest herds of the very bad tempered, man hating Cape Buffalo.
Interestingly the elephants in the Tsavao national park have a reddish colour to them rather than the traditional grey due to the red volcanic soil in this park.
Leopards are probably the most difficult to see and add to your photograph collection as they are very illusive, hunt at night and take their prey up into the trees to eat to avoid their kill being stolen by hyenas.
Many African National parks are catering more and more for children to visit and for the 3 – 12 year olds there is a new Africa 5, Africas’s little 5:
- Ant lion
- Elephant shrew
- Buffalo weaver
- Leopard tortoise
- Rhino beetle
This group of animals have been chosen as the little 5 purely based on the fact that they share their names with the Big 5 but a great idea none the less.
Explore Travel and Cruises have a very useful infograph showing some great things to do and see on an African safari and then links it to the countries that you need to visit to do them, including the Big 5. You will find that most responsible companies providing safari’s use companies that have a strong environmental ethos and ensures that part of your money you spend to go on this holiday is used to help fund the protection and future of these animals.
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