For travel lovers around the world, the word ‘safari’ ignites excitement about exploring vast sub-saharan landscapes and encountering majestic creatures in their natural environment, including the Big Five.
Historically, the term ‘Big Five’ referred to the five animals that were most difficult to hunt, and therefore were the most valued trophies, and included the Lion, Leopard, Rhino, Elephant, and Buffalo.
Today, the Big Five remain animals that are frequently sought-after by tourists for sightings, encounters, and photo opportunities.
Fun and Surprising Facts about the ‘Big Five’
Given the significant status of these animals, here are some interesting, and surprising facts about the Big Five that you may not know:
Possibly the most iconic of Africa’s large animals, the lion is the continent’s top predator, and the second largest big cat in the world. In addition to this, lions:
- Follow a complex social structure and live in prides. A pride consists of multiple related females and their offspring, as well as two to three unrelated males. A typical pride has 15 lions.
- Are the second largest big cat, weighing at around 500 pounds and may even grow up to eight feet in length.
- Don’t live in jungles. Although commonly referred to as ‘King of the Jungle’, lions actually live in grasslands and plains.
- Don’t do the hunting. Female lions typically do the hunting in groups, although the males are the first to eat.
- Have the loudest roar. A lion’s roar can be heard up to 5 miles away, the loudest roar of any big cat species.
Leopards are known to be the most secretive and elusive big cat, but are highly sought out by tourists due to their elegant and powerful build. In addition, leopards are:
- Excellent hunters and are famous for their incredible agility and strength to climb trees while carry a kill that is even bigger than them.
- Extremely adaptable and can survive on a variety of prey, including fish, insects, reptiles, birds, baboons, and monkeys.
- Solitary animals. Each adult leopard has its own territory and while they may share parts of it, they prefer to be alone.
- Incredibly strong. They are pound to pound the strongest of all the big cats and can leap up to 10 feet vertically and 20 feet horizontally.
Even though Rhinos are one of the most critically endangered species today, they have roamed the Earth for over 40 million years, long before humans, and when you see them, you will know you are looking at one of the most beautiful heritages of our planet.
Some facts about rhinos include:
- They’re herbivores. Despite their incredible size and strength, these bulky beasts don’t prey on other animals for food.
- Rhinos are the second largest land mammal in the world, after elephants.
- There are only two remaining white rhinos in the world, both female, after the last male, Sudan, died in March 2018.
- Altogether, there are five rhino species, the Sumatran Rhino, Javan Rhino, Black Rhino, White Rhino, and Greater One-Horned Rhino.
4. Cape Buffalo
Despite it being the only type of wild cattle in Africa, the Cape Buffalo has never been domesticated, probably because of its aggressive and dangerous nature. The Cape Buffalo:
- Has earned the nicknames ‘Widow Maker’ and ‘Black Death’ and is said to have killed more hunters in Africa than any other animal.
- Has an excellent memory, often ambushing other creatures who have previously attacked them.
- Is an extremely good swimmer and can often cross deep waters in search of better grazing.
- Are known to kill lions, their main predators, and have also been observed killing lion cubs as ‘preventative punishment’.
Despite being the largest living land mammal, elephants are some of the most beautiful and gentle creatures on Earth. In addition, elephants:
- Are highly sensitive animalsand can express grief, compassion, self-awareness, and altruism.
- Use their trunk as a nose, hand, extra foot, and as a tool for signalling, siphoning water, digging, gathering food, and much more.
- Prefer one tusk over the other, just as humans are either right handed or left handed.
- Have the longest pregnancy of all animals,and it takes a female 22 months from conception to give birth.
- Use their feet to listen and can pick up subsonic rumblings made by other elephants through vibrations in the ground.
Catch the Big Five on Your East African Safari
Encountering the Big Five, or any other animal, in their natural habitat, is a once in a lifetime travel experience, and at Let’s Go Travel, we can create customized East African safari itineraries that will transform you forever.
To find out more, contact our travel agents at +254 722 331 899.