The African big 5! What are they and where can they be found?
If you’ve gone or planning on going on an African safari, chances are you’ve heard of the African Big Five.
You may hear some terms related to a safari that is puzzling. For instance, why does everyone keep talking about “game”?
The term ‘game’ in African Safaris refers to ‘wildlife’. This also gives rise to the terms ‘game drive’ and ‘game viewing’.
The term Big Five comes from the days of the colonial white hunters during the last century. While these animals are undoubtedly impressive, please remember that there are many different species of wildlife that are just as fascinating.
The Big Five were the animals that the hunters considered to be their biggest challenge to hunt. They are animals that can be the most dangerous in Africa, especially if wounded.
On an African safari, you will most likely encounter them from the safety of a safari vehicle or in the company of an armed guard.
The African Elephant
The African elephant is the largest of the Big Five and also the largest land animal in the world. It can live up to 70 years in the wild.
Elephants have bad eyesight, however, the largest brains in the animal kingdom. Elephants can give birth every 3 to 4 years and their gestation period is 2 years.
Adult African elephants eat up to 170 kilograms of plant material and 50 gallons of water a day, and the young(calf) are breastfed up to the age of four or five years.
They are found in 37 sub-Saharan countries and are capable of surviving in a wide range of different habitats, from lush wetlands to semi-arid deserts.
Elephants live in groups that number up to 100 individuals and communicate using a variety of low-frequency rumbles that can travel for many miles.
Female calves usually stay with the herd throughout their life, while young males leave to form bachelor groups and to eventually create herds of their own.
In Uganda, elephants can be seen in Queen Elizabeth Park and Murchison Falls Park.
The African Rhino
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 throughout Africa, white rhinos are estimated to be about 5,000 although out Africa.
The white rhino has a large square-lipped mouth. It is also the most social of all rhino species.
Three subspecies of black rhino have been declared extinct, while the northern white rhino is now extinct in the wild.
Despite their names, there is no difference in color between the black and the white rhino. These rhinos are distinguished by their lips, the black rhino has a pointed and prehensile lip, while the white rhino has a flat and wide lip.
Black rhinos are usually solitary and have a reputation for being bad-tempered, while white rhinos often live in pairs.
In Uganda, rhinos can be seen in the Uganda Rhino Sanctuary.
The African Buffalo
The African buffalo is one of Africa’s most dangerous animals as it has killed more hunters than any other animal.
The African Buffalos live in large herds of up to 1,000 animals, they can’t go without water and they’re usually found around water bodies.
They protect their calves by placing them in the middle of the herd.
These hefty, cow-like animals often congregate by the thousands in Africa’s game parks; forming large groups is one defense against predators.
Male and female buffalo both have horns, but the males’ curve upward and fuse in the center, forming a solid bony plate called a boss. These horns help these animals in defense.
In Uganda, buffalos can be seen in Lake Mburo National Park, Queen Elizabeth National Park, Murchison Falls National Park, and Kidepo Valley National Park.
The African Leopard
The leopard is common in many of the African national parks, but it’s a master of disguise. It’s very hard to spot.
They have a gestation period of 90 to 105 days. Cubs are breastfed for 3 months and kept hidden for up to 8 weeks.
Leopards have the largest territory of all the big cats. This ability has ensured their survival in various geographic areas.
The African leopard is the most elusive of the Big Five animals. Leopards are excellent climbers; they use trees to sight prey and to store fresh kills away from scavengers.
Their skin is perfect for camouflage, as it has a series of black spots, or rosettes that resemble the surroundings.
Their hunting majorly relies on their ability to run at speeds of over 56 kilometers per hour. They can also jump over 10 feet into the air and they are excellent swimmers.
In reserves, they have become more used to the presence of humans and vehicles, so today it is easier to see them.
In Uganda, Leopard can be seen in Lake Mburo National Park, Queen Elizabeth National Park, and Murchison Falls National Park.
The African Lion
Commonly known as the animal king, the African lion is the world’s second-largest cat after the tiger.
The African Lion is the second largest cat in the world the Tiger being the largest. Lions are social and live in groups called a Pride.
A pride can have up to 3 males and the rest will be females and their young. A pride’s territory can extend as far as 260 square kilometers
Although lions sometimes hunt during the day, they are typically more active at night which is why most daytime safari sightings are of cats sleeping in the shade. Lions can sleep for up to 20 hours a day.
Lions can live to around 14 years of age since they have a few natural predators. Man is the Lion’s biggest threat with his traditional hunting customs and big game hunting.
In Uganda, Lions can be seen in Kidepo Valley National Park, Murchison Falls National Park, and Queen Elizabeth National Park.
An African safari can never truly be a safari until you encounter the amazing members of the big five. It is exciting to see the lion hunt to feed its young, though lions hardly hunt during the day.
Visit the beautify land of Uganda and you will get to see all the big five members in action. Friendly Gorillas Safaris is more than ready to receive you on an exciting experience of the ‘African big Five” Please get back to us for more inquires.