The African Big 5 Safari.

by | Jul 26, 2023 | 0 comments

The African Big 5 Safari.

The term Big Five is used in Africa to refer to the five largest animals on the African continent.
The term Big 5 does not only reference the animals’ size and dimensions but also the difficulty in hunting and killing them.

Big Five is an increasingly popular term among safari and animal lovers, which, however, has a very distasteful origin, and is still a major problem for African animals to date.

The Big Five Game was a sort of competition, a competition and personal challenge between hunters, who challenged each other to see who could kill each of Africa’s most dangerous animals, and then decorate their homes with trophies of the hunt.

The Big Five Game was something to be proud of, and a lot of people headed for the lands of Uganda where those animals were abundant, to try and kill them.

Why call these animals the Big Five?

These animals were named the “Big 5” because they are among the most hunted/poached animals and the most difficult and dangerous to hunt on foot.

These five large African mammal species were known to be treacherous, and it was considered a feat by trophy hunters to bring them home.

Several tourists ask why these animals were chosen, as African Big 5 they were extremely dangerous to pursue on foot and many hunters lost their lives while trying to get that prestigious trophy because they hunt back.

Which animals make up the African big5?

Big Five animals are elephants, lions, leopards, buffaloes, and black rhinos.

These are some of the most characteristic animals of the African fauna and one of the most important reasons why thousands of visitors come every year to experience safaris in Africa and Uganda.

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African elephants are the largest land animals on Earth.

African elephants are keystone species that play a critical role in their ecosystem.
Also known as “ecosystem engineers,” elephants shape their habitat in many ways.

During the dry season, they use their tusks to dig up dry riverbeds and create watering holes many animals can drink from.

Their dung is full of seeds, helping plants spread across the environment—and it makes a pretty good habitat for dung beetles.

In the forest, their feasting on trees and shrubs creates pathways for smaller animals to move through, and in the savanna, they uproot trees and eat saplings, which helps keep the landscape open for zebras and other plains animals to thrive.


Elephants eat roots, grasses, fruit, and bark. An adult elephant can consume up to 300kg of food and 160 liters of water in a single day.

These hungry animals do not sleep much, roaming great distances while foraging for the large quantities of food that they require to sustain their massive bodies.

Lion (Panthera Leo)

A lion is a large, powerful well-muscled cat with a long body, large head, and short legs.

The male’s outstanding characteristic is his mane, it may be full and shaggy, covering the back of the head, neck, and shoulders and continuing onto the throat and chest to join a fringe along the belly.

In some lions the mane and fringe are very dark, almost black, giving the cat a majestic appearance.
Manes make males look larger and may serve to intimidate rivals or impress prospective mates.

What do lions feed on?

Lions are carnivores and fierce predators known for their hunting effectiveness. Lions feed on “meat and flesh.”

They typically hunt in pride (groups) that consist of up to three males, a dozen females, and their cubs.
As apex predators, lions are adept at hunting for their food, which is typically other animals that live within their habitat.
This can include anything from antelopes, giraffes, zebras, wild hogs, and even crocodiles.

Hunting in lions

Hunting generally is done in the dark by the lionesses. They often hunt in groups of two or three, using teamwork to stalk, surround, and kill their prey.

Lionesses aren’t the most successful of hunters, because they usually score only one kill out of several tries.

After the kill the males usually eat first, lionesses next and the cubs get what’s left.
Males and females fiercely defend against outside lions attempting to join their pride.

What is the pride of a lion?

A lion pride is a group of lions that live and hunt together.

Lions are the only big cats to live in family units called pride. Other big cats live solitary lives, except when breeding or raising cubs.

A lion pride may include up to three males, a dozen females, and their young. All of a pride’s female lionesses and cubs are typically related.

At around two to three years old, young males leave their pride and attempt to take over another male’s pride.

The social structure of pride is based on specific roles. Lionesses are the primary hunters, while dominant males are responsible for protecting the pride’s territory.

Lion prey includes antelopes, zebras, wildebeest, buffalo, and other grassland animals.
These animals are often larger and faster than an individual lion.

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African Buffalo

African buffalo (Syncerus caffer) are large, heavy cow-like animals native to Africa. They are widely regarded as among the most dangerous animals on the African continent,

The African buffalo is not an ancestor of domestic cattle and is only distantly related to other larger bovines. Its unpredictable temperament may have been part of the reason that the African buffalo has never been domesticated. As a member of the big five game, the African buffalo is a sought-after trophy in hunting.

Being one of the “big five” African game, the African buffalo is known as “the Black Death” or “widowmaker” and is widely regarded as a very dangerous animal. Buffalo is sometimes reported to kill more people in Africa than any other animal.

Habits and lifestyle

They are social and live in herds that consist of related females, and their offspring, in an almost linear dominance hierarchy.

During the dry season, males leave the herd and form, bachelor groups.

During the wet season, the younger bulls rejoin a herd to mate with the females. They stay with them throughout the season to protect the calves.

When attacked by predators, they emit low-pitched calls to signal the herd to move.
To signal to the herd to change direction, leaders emit “gritty”, and “creaking gate” sounds.
When moving to drink places, some individuals make long “maaa” calls up to 20 times a minute. When being aggressive, they make explosive grunts that may last long or turn into a rumbling growl.

Diet of buffaloes

African buffalo have a strictly herbivorous (graminivorous, folivorous) diet. They feed on a wide variety of grasses, sedges, leaves, and other plants.


Rhinoceroses are large, herbivorous mammals identified by their characteristic horned snouts.
The rhinoceros are solitary animals that only re

In some species, such as the white or Indian rhinos, there are exceptions where they form pairs that lead to larger groups.

The Sumatran rhino and both African species (the white and black rhino) have two horns, whilst the Indian and Javan rhino only have one.

Rhinos can generally live for around 60 later on.

Their fights are relatively light, and they don’t usually attack each other.

Instead, they push each other with their horns until the other gives up.

If the intruder wins, the ‘owner’ of the territory will stop marking it with his urine and feces and will assume a more subordinate position.

They normally stick to the same territory throughout their lives, which can range from two to 60 miles, and they mark their territory with feces and urine to remember them.
Females have fewer issues with territory and there is usually no rivalry between them.

They tend to rub their noses as a sign that they’re welcome.

Rhinos are generally herbivores and feed mainly on grasses and other plants.

Leopard (Panthera pardus)

Leopards (Panthera pardus) are one of five species of the big cat genus Panthera, a group that also includes lions, tigers and jaguars.
Leopards are considered to be vulnerable, endangered, or critically endangered animals in different areas of their range.

The ground color is typically yellowish above and white below. Dark spots are generally arranged in rosettes over much of the body and are without the central spot characteristic of the coat of the jaguar.
The ground color within the rosettes is sometimes a darker yellow, and the size and spacing of the spots vary greatly.

The leopard is a solitary animal of the bush and forest and is mainly nocturnal in habit, although it sometimes basks in the sun.

It is an agile climber and frequently stores the remains of its kills in the branches of a tree.
It feeds upon any animals it can overpower, from small rodents to waterbuck but generally preys on the smaller and medium-sized antelopes and deer.

It appears to have a special liking for dogs as food and, in Africa, for baboons. It sometimes takes livestock and may attack human beings.

African big 5 safaris - What the African big 5 are and where to find them. Uganda Tours

Where to go for a Big 5 safari in Uganda?

Uganda has beautiful destinations to experience the Big Five African dangerous animals.
The common is Murchison fall national Park where you encounter the rhinos at the ziwa rhino sanctuary and others can be spotted while on a game drive in Murchison falls national park.
Other national parks of Kidepo Valley and Queen Elizabeth have got the big4 i.e., elephants, lions, buffaloes,

In conclusion

The African Big 5 are the most dangerous animals in most African savannah parks that visitors wouldn’t miss seeing while on their African safari to Uganda.



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About the Author

Tony Kizito

Tony is an enthusiastic and self-motivated tour Consultant with over 5 years in delivering professional tailor-made Trips across East Africa. I am keen to offer strong attention to detail, understand the travelers' needs and then craft unforgettable African safari experience.

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