When choosing a safari holiday, the term the 'Big Five' will often crop up and refers to some of Africa's most popular wildlife, the lion, African elephant, Cape buffalo, leopard, and rhinoceros. The phrase itself was coined by African hunters and refers to the five most difficult and dangerous animals to hunt on foot.
Tour operators have borrowed the term from the game hunting industry and adapted it for their own marketing efforts. Originally the term Big Five meant the five animals that gave their hunters most difficulty because of their unpredictable behavior. The marketing of the Big Five paid off as it generated an ambition for hunters to cross those animals off their bucket list.
The mighty African elephant is the largest of the Big Five and also the largest land animal in the world. Elephants are chilled and calm, as long as you leave them alone. If threatened, an elephant is a terrifying sight; flapping its ears, trumpeting and sprinting its 12,000 lbs of weight towards you. Can you outrun an elephant? Not many people have. It’s best not to annoy them.
The name Cape Buffalo covers four species of the African Buffalo. It’s one of Africa’s most dangerous animals as it has killed more hunters than any other animal. Even a lion would not dare to attack a Cape Buffalo without the help of his buddies. We love Cape Buffalo - sometimes it’s a nice change when the vegetarian wins
The leopard is common in many of the African national parks, but it’s a master of disguise. It’s very hard to spot. You might be lucky and see one hiding in a tree, tail flicking, observing his surroundings calmly.
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.
There are two types of rhino in Africa: the black and the white rhino. The black rhino is highly endangered and threatened by poachers. Their population is currently estimated to be only 4,000 animals throughout Africa. There are larger numbers of the white rhino - about 17,000 animals - although most of these are in South Africa.
You want to be close to the Big Five in the wilderness? Crucial Tours will take you on an unforgettable safari through Tanzania’s most impressive national parks. We dare you to take a look at our wildlife safaris.