Exploring Africa's Wildlife And Wild Places

What are the Big 5 African Animals?

by David Tett
August 15, 2014


What are THE BIG 5 animals of Africa? If you planning a trip to Africa, you'll want to learn about the iconic animals that symbolize the wildness and scale of Africa, and they are the wild stars of all our personalized African safaris.


The “King of the Jungle” lives out on the at savannah and is a very powerful and agile hunter. Because lions prowl in prides, a coordinated lion attack on a buffalo herd can be an incredible battle. Since only 1/4 to 1/6 of lions’ predatory chases are successful, you can enjoy the thrill several times in a day. Once they’ve caught dinner, they’re not nearly as active; they sleep around 20 hours a day.



As the smallest of the Big 5, leopards are cunning hunters that use stealth and surprise as their weapons instead of brute force. To prevent lions or other predators from stealing their prey, leopards often drag their meals up into trees to dine in peace. Considering they’ve been known to haul a 280-pound young gira e up a tree, you get a sense that they’ve got some muscle, too.


African Buffalo

Why is a buffalo on the same list as these other fearsome creatures? African buffalo are unpredictable and have the strength to overturn a car. They are well equipped to battle each other for dominance, and to fend off lion attacks. The skin on their necks can be two inches thick.



Definitely the rarest of the Big 5, rhinos can be the hardest to spot. But good guides can make all the difference. White rhinos are the biggest rhinos, as massive as 50 average humans. Black rhinos are only half that size, but still can weigh well over 3,000 pounds. It’s fortunate that they’re not as ill-tempered as they are rumored to be. Still, don’t plan on petting any on safari.


African Elephant

While their sheer size is intimidating, elephants are mostly peaceful animals, as long as they are given their space. One of the greatest joys of these gentle giants is in watching them interact with their herd members, looking out for each other’s calves, touching trunks as a greeting and other surprising displays of “humanity.” 

Africa's Big 5 & Game Viewing Safaris



Topics: Conservation & Wildlife

Posted in: Conservation & Wildlife

AUTHOR BIO  |David Tett

Bushtracks' Founder & Owner is a sixth-generation Southern African, born and raised in Harare, Zimbabwe, later earning a Bachelor of Science degree in DNA technology from the University of Cape Town, South Africa. He founded Bushtracks Expeditions in 1989 and has been traveling extensively throughout Africa for more than 45 years. Combining his interest in ecosystems and the varied ecology of Africa with photographic safaris, he develops educational programs that include traditional cultures and wildlife. He is keenly interested in how nature tourism affects rural African communities and has worked with several projects that successfully integrate communities, the environment, and wildlife viewing.