The big five were originally identified by big game hunters as the five most difficult animals to hunt on foot. Today, these animals are among the most sought-after sightings on a safari.
When it comes to an African safari, one of the most exciting experiences is spotting the Big Five animals. The Big Five – which includes the lion, leopard, elephant, rhinoceros, and Cape buffalo.
- The lion is famously referred to as the king of the jungle.
- The elephant is a witty one with a very good memory
- The leopard, commonly mistaken for a cheetah, has rose-like markings
- The rhinoceros have giant horns that grow from their snouts and the name rhinoceros actually means ”nose horn”
- The cape buffalo has smooth tongues.
- Go with a knowledgeable guide
A knowledgeable safari guide will have an in-depth knowledge of the animal behavior and the best places to find them. They will also know how to safely approach the animals and how to recognize the signs of their presence. Heed to their advice and follow their instructions to increase your chances of seeing the Big Five. Pay close attention to some of the precautions they’ll give you about the animals.
- Time your safari well
The time of year you choose for your safari can greatly affect your chances of spotting the Big Five. In general, the dry season (June to October) is ideal for wildlife viewing as animals congregate around water sources. However, the wet season (November to May) can be a good time to see newborn animals and migratory birds.
- Be patient and keen
Spotting the big five is never a guarantee as they can be elusive. Be patient and keep your eyes skinned for any slight signs of movement or activity. Look for tracks, droppings, and other signs of animal presence to give you clues on where to focus your attention.
- Use a pair of binoculars and a camera
Binoculars are essential for spotting wildlife from a distance. They can help you get a closer look at the animals and their behavior without disturbing them. A camera with a good zoom lens is also important for capturing clear photos of the Big Five.
- Understand the behavior of the Big Five
Each of the Big Five has unique behaviors that can help you spot them. Lions, for example, are most active at dawn and dusk when they hunt. Elephants can be found near water sources and are often seen bathing and socializing. Leopards are solitary animals that are most active at night. Cape buffalos are often found in large herds and are known for their unpredictable behavior. Rhinoceros are solitary animals and have little tolerance for others.
- Consider different types of safaris
Different types of safaris offer different opportunities to spot the Big Five. A walking safari can give you a more up-close and personal experience with the animals, while a hot air balloon safari can give you a bird’s eye view of the wildlife below. A night safari can give you a chance to see the Big Five in action during their nocturnal activities.
7. Know the countries where the animal you want to identify is
Rhinoceros are only found in 4 African countries: Kenya, Namibia, Zimbabwe, South Africa
Elephants are mostly found in eastern and southern African countries like Kenya, Tanzania, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Zambia, South Africa
Lions are only found in Sub-Saharan Africa but 80% of them are in the Eastern and Southern Africa, Tanzania having the highest lion population.
Leopards have the most extensive distribution of all the big cats and occur in a wide range of habitat.
The cape buffalo thrives in all types of grassland habitat in Sub-Saharan Africa provided that they have a close proximity to water, about 20km/12 miles
In conclusion, spotting the Big Five animals on a safari can be a thrilling and unforgettable experience. With the right preparation, guidance and knowledge, you can improve the likelihood of seeing these spectacular creatures in their natural habitat. Always remember to respect the animals and their habitat, and enjoy the beauty and wonder of the African wilderness.