African Big Five

African big five include the African elephants, cape buffaloes, rhinos, leopards and lions, they were named the African big five by early big game hunters because they were considered the most dangerous, difficult and fierce African animals to kill while hunting on foot. The phrase these days has become the most sought after safari sighting by tour operators for marketing purposes because having views of the African big five on a safari gives you lifetime memories and unforgettable experiences.

African Big Five

What are the African big five mammals

The African big five mammals include cape buffaloes, African elephants, rhinos, lions and leopards, these animals can however be viewed during a game drive in a comfortable 4WD pop up safari vehicle with an experienced driver guide in different African national parks. The African big five can be seen in countries like Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Zimbabwe, Namibia, South Africa, Botswana, Zambia among others.

The African Elephant

The African elephant is the largest and heaviest of Africa’s big 5 and the largest land animals in the world. A male elephant can grow up to 4 meters in height and weigh up to 7 tonnes while a female elephant can weigh up to 3.5 tonnes with a life span of around 70 odd years. The African elephant has the longest gestation period of all mammals which lasts for 22 months and are herbivores which only eat grass, herbs, fruits, plants and trees, they can however eat up to 300kg of food, drink up to 189 liters of water and excel up to 150 kg of dung daily. The African elephant is intelligent, gentle, has good hearing and can also detect vibrations up to 10km and can determine the direction they are coming from through their sensory cells in their feet. The largest number of African elephants on the African big five safari can be seen roaming across the savannah national park in South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Zambia, Tanzania, Namibia, Uganda among others.

The Cape Buffalo

The Cape buffalo is one of the African big five mammals that can be seen in different national park. The buffaloes are herbivores that feed of plants, vegetation and when it’s time to graze, they normally gather in groups of thousands. The groups later breakup into smaller bachelor groups of 4 to 7 years and 12 years during the dry season, in the wet season the herds re-unit again and start mating. The female buffalo becomes pregnant for a period of 10-11 months and gives birth to a calf with no horns which take about 10 years to reach the full size. young calves are raised by their mothers with all other members looking out for them until they are old enough to join the herd for example if there is an attack the herds will surround the calves in a circle which makes it hard for the predator to attack any young one. A cape buffalo can grow to a height of 1 to 1.7 m with a body length of 1.7 to 3.4 m and weigh between 500 to 900 kilograms. They have thick legs and hook shaped horns which can grow up to 60 inches in length and are often used to defend themselves against predators such as lions. Cape buffaloes usually spend most of their time sleeping in muddy pools to stay cool and cover themselves with mud when it’s hot. During your safari the cape buffaloes can be seen in different African countries including Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, Rwanda, Zambia, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Botswana, Ethiopia, Namibia among others.


The African lion which is also referred to as the king of the jungle is the largest of the Africa’s big cats and the most sought after animal of the African big five. Lions are social animals that live in groups called prides which consist of 10 to 20 individuals with up to 3 males, a dozen of females and their cubs/offspring’s, females usually stay within the pride as they grow old while the males leave when they are 2 to 3 years old to establish their own prides.  Male lions can weigh between 150 to 250 kilograms while females can weigh about 130 kilograms, grow to a length of up to 3 meters and 2.7 meters for females. Male lions are characterized with large manes which grow around their head, neck and chest though there are some mane less lions. The mane range from blond, reddish-brown or black and it starts to develop when the lion is about 12 months and stops growing when the lion is 3 to 4 years. Female lions in the pride are the ones which hunt because they are faster and lighter while the males defend the prides territory by marking them with their urine and roar to chase away the animals. Female lions need at least 5 kilograms of meat per days while a male lion needs at least 7 kilograms and when the prey is killed the male lions eat first. Lions mate after every 15 minutes for up to 5 days which adds up to 250 times in 5 days and have a gestation period of about 108 days.  Lions can be seen in countries like Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, Botswana, South Africa, Namibia among others and they can be viewed resting under the cool shade during a hot day, in order to have breathtaking views of the African lion you can book a safari with Achieve Global Safaris and we will make your dream come true. 


Leopards are the second largest animals after the lions of the African big cats. The leopard is known for its spotted body, graceful and ferocious hunting techniques, they are solitary creatures that only spend time with others when it’s mating season or when raising their young ones. Leopards mate 70 to 100 times a day for 4, 5 or 6 days and during this time they also hunt together. They live for 12 to 15 years in the wild, up to 23 years in captivity and have a gestation period of approximately three months. leopards give birth to a litter of two to three cubs in a den with each cub weighing 500 to 600 grams, after birth the cubs depend on their mother for food until 3 months old and when they are about 12 or 18 months old they start living on their own and at 2 or 3 years old they create their own offspring’s. The male leopards weigh about 36 to 75 kilograms and females weigh 21 to 60 kilograms they are carnivores which prey on any animals that cross their path for example warthogs, zebras, antelopes, wildebeests, fish, gazelle, monkeys among others and thy hunt during the night because they are nocturnal animals, after killing the prey they drag it into the trees to keep it from being taken by other animals. Leopards can live in almost any type of habitat including rainforests, woodlands, grasslands, savannah, forests, shrubs, swamps, trees, mountains, among others. Leopards are also among the African big five and they can be seen in different countries including Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda, Botswana, Zambia among others


 Rhinos are the second largest land animals after the elephants and they are the hardest of the African big five animals to spot during the safari because they have been hunted to extinction. In Africa there are two species of rhinos the black rhinos and the white rhinos, the two species can however be distinguished by their body shape and shape of their lips because white rhinos have flat and broad lips and they are larger compared to the black rhinos which have pointed lips.  Rhinos are herbivores which feed on plants, grass, trees and bushes and can consume up to 150 kilograms of food per day and drink 60 to 80 liters of water.  They are anti social animals which barely spend time with each other unless mating where after they go separate ways, they sometimes live together in a group called “crash” which can be composed of a female and her calves and on rare occasions two female rhinos can be seen together in a group. Male rhinos are territorial and mark their space by scattering their dung and urine in a preferred space. Rhinos can live up to 45 years in the wild and have a gestation period of 15 to 16 months where they give birth to 1 calf which can weigh about 40 to 64 kilograms at birth, after giving birth the mother stays nurturing it until 3 years old. White rhinos can stand between 5-6 feet tall and weigh up to 6,000 pounds, despite their size and heavy body they can run up to 30 miles per hour. Rhinos are short-sighted but have a cute hearing and good sense of smell, their skin is three inches thick and on their body the head is the heaviest part which is the reason why they only feed on short grass. Rhinos in Africa can be seen in Tanzania, South Africa, Kenya, Uganda, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana among others.

African Big Five
African Big Five

In order to have great views of the African big five you can book a safari with Achieve Global Safaris or visit our website for more information.

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