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The Big Five In Africa

This is a phenomenon used to describe the most appreciated, feared, and the most dangerous animals in the jungle and hence acquiring the term the Big Five in Africa. The Big Five are highly desired and poached throughout the African continent however the government has put up strict laws against the act in order to promote wildlife.

These animals are majorly found in Africa’s national parks and they include; Elephants, Leopards, Lions, African Buffaloes, and Rhinos.

These animals are referred to as the Big Five not because of their sizes but because they all poses different traits and generally are the most difficult animals to hunt on foot. Here are the big five spotted in Africa;

The Big Five In Africa


The Elephant(loxodonta Africana) is also among the big five in Africa and is the largest animal on land weighing up to 6000kg and standing at a height of 3m on average. It also requires about 150kg of food each day.

The size of these animals intimidates not only humans but other animals as well. The male Elephants are mainly solitary in nature but at times tend to associate with other males in small groups. Whereas females are more social in nature and prefer to keep the connection with their families.

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The Lion(panthera Leo) is famously known as the King of the Jungle because it is the fiercest animal of all. The male is usually differentiated from the female because of their fluffy manes, their intimidating size as well as their roar that scares away other animals.

In Africa, the Lion is occasionally used as a symbol of leadership, strength, and power. It is also the largest predator on land, preying on various animals such as; zebras, warthogs, giraffes, and other herbivores.

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The Leopard (panthera Pardus) also among the big five in Africa is a solitary animal that is rarely seen in groups. This makes it difficult to see or spot it.

The Leopard usually hunts during night times or early in the morning. Spotting them is made difficult because of the color of their bodies that disguises with the tress they rest on.

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The Buffalo is the most social animal among the Big Five in Africa. They are usually found in their active large groups grazing.

The male buffalo is very aggressive in nature especially when isolated from the rest of their herds making it the most dangerous animal and a threat to human life among the big five. This is so because it takes on the responsibility to protect the females, other adults as well as their young ones. The female buffalo is differentiated from the male because of their smaller horns compared to those of the male buffalo.

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Rhinoceros are among the big five in Africa and are large herbivorous animals and are also endangered species. They get their name from the Greek words ‘rhino’ meaning nose and ‘ceros’ meaning horn.

The Rhino is a very helpful animal among the big five because of its ability to both detect and put out fire by stamping on it and it can therefore be given the title of a firefighter.

These animals are mainly divided into two namely, the black and white rhino. The white Rhino may be perceived by most people as being white in color but not quite the fact because it has the same color as the black rhino which is grey. These two can be differentiated using the shape of their mouth, the white rhino has quite a large, square-shaped mouth whereas the black has a sharp pointed upper mouth.

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Where In Africa To See The Big Five?

Africa is endowed with various countries that pose suitable conditions to accommodate the Big Five. A person desiring to have a safari must definitely consider visiting Africa especially if their major aim is to have a look at the Big Five.

Some of these countries blessed with the Big Five in Africa include; Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Botswana, Angola, South Africa, Malawi, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Zambia, and Ethiopia.

Top 10 National Parks To See The Big  Five In Africa

The survival of Africa’s safari industry is based on the availability of the Big Five animals in most of its countries. Most of all Africa’s national parks are endowed with at least one of the Big Five animals.

The following are the most famous national parks and destinations for Africa’s Big Five animals.

Serengeti National Park, Tanzania

Serengeti national park located in Tanzania neighboring Kenya in the north and Ngorongoro in the south and is home to all the Big Five animals. It is also well known for being a location of the Great Wildlife Migration. This national park has also got a reputation of having the ancient ecosystem in the world. The park is also endowed with massive flora and fauna, something that gives it a unique characteristic from the rest of the parks in Africa and also the world at large.

Speaking of the climate in the park, Serengeti national park is majorly dry except in the months of June and July where alot of rainfall is received. The park is also dominated by Savannah grassland and characterized with  dispersed shrubs that attract the herbivores to graze it.

The uniqueness of this park doesn’t end because its among the most famous parks in the world that anchors the largest numbers of wildlife and among these include the rare tree climbing lions that can also be spotted in Queen Elizabeth national park in Uganda.

This national park accommodates all the Big Five in Africa including; Lions(4000), Leopards(1000), Elephants(7535), Buffaloes(28,524), and Rhinos they are a rare specie and can only be spotted in the northern part of the park.

Serengeti national park is not only home to the Big Five, but also various animals including; Wildebeest, Giraffes, cheetahs, Janet cats, jackals, Spotted hyenas, Zebras, Dik-dik, Baboons, Impala, and many others. Besides the animals, Serengeti national park is also blessed with various bird species and these include; Ostriches, secretary birds, Martial Eagles, Kori bastards and Starlings.

Kidepo Valley National Park, Uganda

Kidepo Valley national park is located in the northeastern part of Uganda in Kaabong district. It is mainly dominated by the savannah vegetation comprising of beautiful features like; Kidepo valley, Narus valley, Mount Morungole, and the Namamukweny valley. This park is found in the remote areas of karamoja region giving chance to tourists to interact with the famous Karamojong people.

Kidepo national park was ranked by CNN Travel as the second most attractive and beautiful park in Africa due to the plenty of wildlife that include; zebras, ostrich, orx, bat eared fox, bohor reed buck, bush duiker, Jacksons hartebeest  and the magnificent landscape found there that is comprised of the savannah vegetation.

The park carries four of the big five in Africa and these include; Elephants, Buffaloes, Lions, and Leopards that can be spotted during both the morning and night game drives within the park.

Besides the park being a home to four of the Big Five, it is also a home to a variety of bird species making it the second best birding site in Uganda. Some of them include; ostriches, little bee eaters, chestnut weavers, Jacksons hornbills, red and yellow barbet, Kori bastard, secretary bird, Abyssinian roller and many others.

Kruger National Park, South Africa

Kruger national park is the largest game reserve in South Africa. It is located in Limpopo and Mpumalanga provinces bordering Mozambique in the east and Zimbabwe in the north. The park is dominated by the dry tropical climate comprising of deciduous savannahs with a variety of plant species.

Kruger national park is a home to the Big Five and these include; Elephants, Lions, Leopards, Rhinos, Buffalos. Among them are also a variety of wildlife spotted and they may include; hippos, cheetahs, wild dogs, impala, spotted hyenas, meerkat, vervet monkey, African wild cat, giraffe, zebra and common eland.

The park is also blessed with various bird species and these are; vultures, southern ground hornbill, martial eagle, little bee-eater, tawny eagle, Kori bastard, pearl-spotted owlet, crested barbet, African fish eagle, and many others.

Murchison Falls National Park, Uganda

Murchison falls national park is located in northern Uganda. It is famously known for having the world’s most powerful waterfall which is the major attraction found in the park.

The fact that it is the largest national park in Uganda occupying a total space of 3893km, gives it the opportunity to become a home to various animals, and among them are some of the big five these are; lions, elephants, leopards, and buffalos. It also harbors various bird species for those that are interested in birding and some of them include; silver bird, black-billed barbet, giant kingfisher, African fish eagle, grey-headed kingfisher, swamp flycatcher,  longtailed nightjar, black-headed lapwing and many others.

Murchison falls national park supports both morning and evening game drives that are usually carried out within the bulingi area where various animals can be spotted aside from the big five and these include; warthogs, Uganda kob, hippo, waterbuck, spotted hyenas, hartebeest, galago and giraffes as well as different bird species.

The magnificent waterfalls in the park encourage various activities like boat cruises where a breathtaking view of the park is seen and also various animals are spotted for example; elephant families, crocodiles, hippopotamuses, and others.

Masai Mara, Kenya

Masai Mara is located in the southwestern part of Kenya and is bordered by the Masai people. It is also believed to be one of the largest game reserves in Kenya.

As most people visit this area to have an experience of the splendid culture of the Masai people, some of them end up being attracted by the park’s flora and fauna as some are curious to find out about what’s in the park, and others are driven by the desire to take part of the different activities found there.

This park is a habitat for various animals including the big five such as; lion, African elephant, leopard, buffalo, and black rhinoceros. Other wildlife include; zebra, giraffe, hyena, cheetah, eland, and wildebeest. It is also home to different bird species including; hamerkop, southern ground hornbill, grey-headed kingfisher, and many others.

Kafue National Park, Zambia

Kafue national park is the largest park in Zambia and also the third-largest national park in Africa. It is found in the center of western Zambia, finding the best entrance in the park using Lusaka-Mongu road.

It is famously known for having the largest population of antelopes in Africa and also habitats several wildlife including four of the big five animals and these include; lions, leopards, elephants, and buffalos, blending with other animals for example; wild dogs, hyenas, zebras, wildebeests, aardvark, pangolin and cheetahs.

The presence of the Kafue River the longest river in Zambia, also empowers the continuance of different activities for people visiting the park and these comprise of boat cruises that offer a great chance of viewing the wildlife.

Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda

Queen Elizabeth National Park is located in the western part of Uganda and is situated in districts such as; Rubirizi, Rukungiri, Kasese, and Kamwenge taking its position in the western arm of the great rift valley.

Queen Elizabeth national park is not only the most visited park in Uganda but also harbors masses of bird species making it the 2nd leading birding site in Africa and some of the bird species found there include; the grey crowned heron, handsome francolin, saddle-billed stork, the martial eagle, gray crowned crane and many others.

The beauty of Queen Elizabeth is endless and this is perceived because of the presence of the tree-climbing lions found in the ishasha sector that has attracted a lot of people from both within the country and abroad. Not forgetting the big five of Africa, Queen Elizabeth accommodates four of them and they include; the tree-climbing lions, elephants, rhinos, and buffalos. Apart from the Big Five, there are also other animals found in the park and these include; Uganda kob, Hippos, Giant forest hog, Nile crocodile, Spotted hyena and Chimpanzee.

Queen Elizabeth has manufactured itself a name as being the only national park in East Africa with the largest number of hippopotamus because of its strategic location near the Kazinga channel allowing various activities like boat cruises to take place.

Akagera National Park, Rwanda

Akagera national park is found in Rwanda and it is the most enormous national park in the country. The name Akagera was driven from the famous Akagera River that flows within the park and towards the inside of Uganda.

Akagera national park is at most the only park with the Big Five animals in Rwanda that is to say; rhinos, lions, elephants, buffalos, and leopards. With the big five aside, Akagera national park is also home to a variety of bird species and may include; Lilac-breasted roller, Gray-crowned crane, Shoebill, African fish eagle, and many others.

As a result, many activities to be carried out within the park have emerged and these include; boat cruises and fishing on river Akagera, nature walks, birding, and game drives.

Nyika National Park, Malawi

Nyika national park Is located in Rumphi, Malawi, and is the largest park in the country. It is also located in the northern part of the country giving a breathtaking view of the abundant wildlife found in the park.

Some of the wildlife found in the park include; zebras, antelopes, giraffes, and bushbucks, and with these not forgetting the Big Five of Africa in particular; Elephants, Lions, Rhinos, Buffalos, and Leopards.

The park is also endowed with several bird species and among them are, wattled cranes, red-winged francolins, Denham’s bastard, secretary bird, and many more.

Etosha National Park, Namibia

Etosha national park is found in the northwestern part of Namibia and it is famously known for its abundant wildlife.

The park comprises much wildlife and these include; hyenas, cheetahs, zebras, giraffes, elands, and among these are also the big five namely; lions, rhinos, leopards, elephants, and buffalos. This makes Etosha the best place for safaris to be carried out.

One of the unique features found in Etosha national park is the watering hole which is a great site for animal viewing and this place attracts tourists in large numbers who come to have an exclusive experience.

Just like the rest of the famous parks in Africa, Etosha national park also attracts a large number of bird species and among them we find; vultures, francolins, herons, owls, and many others.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. what are the big five in Africa?

The big five in Africa include; the lion, elephant, rhinoceros, buffalo and leopard

2. What are the Big 6 in Africa?

The big 6 animals are simply derived from the big 5 including the white rhinoceros and these are; lions, elephants, leopards, buffalos, the black rhinoceros and white rhinoceros

3. Who are the Big 5 now?

The big five are animals that are interpreted to be the most difficult ones to hunt on foot and they include; Elephant(loxodonta Africana), Lion(panthera Leo), Leopard( panthera Pardus), Buffalo, and Rhinoceros.