South Africa’s Big Five

I’m writing this post for people who have no idea what am talking about after reading the title of my post. Most of the foreigners I’ve came across think that South Africa (SA) is a huge jungle where by, lion kiss us to good night sleep, the elephants park their trunk in our garages and the snakes slither themselves into our sock drawer. Nope you are wrong. I would say SA is more of a concrete jungle with more concrete highways than you can imagine than dust roads.Infact we have one of the longest highways in the world, Ben schoeman.

Our Big five and other animals make South Africa a wild place.

For those who have not been to the heart of Africa, please do so. You have been missing out on loads of natural scenery and wild life.

The above photo shows the great animals of our wild. The large trunk herbivorous  Elephant, the spotty polka dot coated leopard, Horns of steel buffalo, black beauty rhinoceros and last but not least the golden brown coated, king of the jungle our very own lion.

So Why only 5??? What happened to the other animals? You may ask.

The term “Big Five” was originally coined by hunters, and referred to the five most difficult animals to hunt on foot in Africa. The Big Five wasn’t chosen for their size, but rather for the difficulty in hunting them, and the degree of danger involved.

The term is still used today in most tourist and wildlife guides, and are usually high on the priority list and a real treat for many a visitor to African game reserves. Our very own national animal, Springbok, is not part of the big five.


My family and I went on a road trip to the lion park. I was around eight or nine years old.  We had a family from India and we were showing beautiful South Africa around. So we took them to the lion park. As you may think, we might go on safari rides. NO, we went in our own vehicle, the scouts adviced us not to leave the windows in our car closed or slightly open for air. My dad thought he was a brave knight. He kept the window winded all the way down. That itself was a downfall to the trip. The lions were lazing around, I remember it was midday, they had their lunch and were snoring away. My dad and his crew wanted some action to be seen. He was the driver, he was pretending to drive over the lions. He drove so fast deliberately and put an emergency stop right infront of a male pride of lions. Am sure the lions got the shock of their lives. A male lion got up on it’s fours and started to slowly walk towards our car. You can imagine what was going through my mind at that age. I knew we were in for a huge trouble, my stomach started to roar louder than the lion. The lion started to smell our car tyres, and started scratch. My mom and I started to get very nervous. Weird enough our visitors were so excited they started to take videos and photos wildly and my dad ofcourse enjoyed it. My mom started to scream at my dad “ponga seekiram ponga!” – Let’s go, quickly!!. So my dad started to drive. He accelorated around 20 km/h, the lions were faster than us, they started to chase us. Now they were two of them. I forgot to mention when the one male lion was scratching our tyre the other one was going round and round our car. Then my dad accelerated further, the lions got so tired they gave up, thank god! We would’ve been their delicious meat for that night if it weren’t for my mom’s screams.

I have to say it was an amazing and exciting experience. I came so close to an elephant and many other animals in other safaris. For those who have not been on a safari, I recommend strongly to go on one especially if you can afford to come to Africa. The big five is not only in our wilds but in our pockets and purses. Their faces are imprinted in our currency.

I love my rand notes. It’s not only beautiful and significant but colourful. It brings up a smile to the face when I think of myself being a South African, so proud of it! My husband and I are planning to visit Kruger National Park soon. Me being a South African, never visited the Kruger, so am looking forward to it.

Hmm … the big five:

The African Elephant is a very large herbivore with thick, almost hairless skin. The upper incisors of the elephant forms long curved tusks of ivory.

The African Elephant is difficult to spot because despite its large size, they are able to hide in tall grass, and more likely to charge than other species.

Rhinoceros (also called Rhino for short) are large, thick-skinned herbivores with one or two upright horns on the nasal bridge. Rhinos are able to reach one tonne or more in weight. They may look fat and lazy, but they have speed I say.

Rhinos are listed as “critically endangered” by the IUCN Red List, as they are killed by humans for their valuable horns, which are made of keratin, and wrongly believed by some to act as an aphrodisiac, amongst other things.

Please don’t kill our Rhinos!!!

The African Buffalo is a large horned bovid. Buffalos are considered the most dangerous of the Big Five, reportedly having caused many hunter deaths. Buffalos are known as the “Black Death” in Africa, with wounded animals reportedly ambushing and attacking its pursuers.

he Leopard is a large, carnivorous feline with either tawny fur with dark rosetto-like markings, or black fur. Leopards are very difficult to spot as they have nocturnal feeding habits and secretive nature. Leopards are also extremely wary of humans, and will take flight in the face of danger.

The Lion is a large carnivorous feline, with a short tawny coat and a tufted tail. Males have magnificent heavy manes around their necks and shoulders.

Considered by many the best of the Big Fivelions are very dangerous animals, and would attack if given a chance.


As during the bygone hunting era the term “Big Five” still conjure up the romance and excitement of Africa’s exotic destinations and experiences.

Imagine watching the sun set over the horizon whilst you capture the moment of a pride of lions stalking their prey.

Watching a buffalo strolling to a water hole with strength and size that makes it more likely to kill a human than any other mammal.

The rhino, which is almost extinct, with its extraordinary horns and bad temper. And the leopard with its beauty and remarkable speed and skill to hunt.

Many travellers regard a visit to South Africa as incomplete without having spotted, and perhaps photographed, the Big Five.

The Big Five – legends of the wilderness which have become synonymous with Africa.

I’ve been saying all along this blog, if you get a chance, come to Africa to experience the true colours of the wild.




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