The big five animals are the African bush elephant, African lion, Cape buffalo, African leopard and rhinoceros. The term “big five game” originally refers to five animals that we the most dangerous to hunt on foot. Currently the term is used for marketing purposes.

Why are these animals the most difficult to hunt?

The African bush elephant is the largest and heaviest mammal on Earth. It has large curved tusks that are used for digging and for marking and fighting. Apart from aggression during the musth (a periodical state caused by high level of testosterone) and despite their large size, elephants are able to hide in tall grass and are more likely to charge than the other species.


The rhinoceros, both black and white, are some of the largest remaining megafauna. They are characterised by having two horns on their snout and a very thick skin.


The Cape buffalo is a large bovine with distinctive heart-shaped horns that can grow up to a meter in diameter. Notorious for their aggressive nature African buffalos are regarded as dangerous as hippos. The Cape buffalo is considered by many to be the most dangerous of the big five, reportedly causing the most hunter deaths, with wounded animals reported to ambush and attack pursuers.


The African lion is one of the large wild cats, actually the second largest after a Siberian tiger. A lion may attack anytime if the opportunity presents itself. Lions do not generally avoid confrontation, but will usually face a challenger. They are unpredictable and may charge when sufficiently annoyed or confronted by danger. These factors together make lion hunting a challenge to hunters.


The African leopard is smaller then the lion; they feature tawny fur with dark rosettes. The leopards are mostly nocturnal animals, active between sunset and sunrise. The leopards are solitary and secretive animals, they are wary of humans and will take flight in the face of danger.


It worth noting that overwhelming majority of them are highly vulnerable due to poaching and habitat loss. You need to be very lucky to meet a leopard or a matured lion on safari, not mentioning the black rhino. Even the African buffalo, which is the most popular big five game animal to hunt, is experiencing a population decline in uncontrolled areas due to poaching and urbanization.

Remember: their major predator is a human. If you want to save these beautiful animals - don’t shoot. Photo-shoot instead.


Published by Marina Kudrya