What are the African “Big Five” Animals?

Hunters in Africa over the decades identified five animals they most wanted to hunt. They were chosen because they were the most difficult and dangerous to pursue. They came to be known as the “Big Five”. This select shortlist has become the must-see for modern safari tourists. Guides escorting visitors around national parks in Africa are under great pressure to locate them, as they know there will be great disappointment to come back from an African safari without having seen all of them.

What are the “Big Five”?

I was not sure I could name them before I headed off on my Titan “Wild Plains of Tanzania” trip, and so researched what they were. I discovered to my surprise that many of the magnificent creatures I love, like the giraffe, zebra, cheetah and even the hippopotamus, were not one of them. Although I did discover the hippo holds a very dubious claim to fame (more about that later in this article). Here are what the “Big Five” are, along with pictures I took on the safari to illustrate and prove I did get to see them!

#1: Elephant

Elephant in Ngorongoro Crater Tanzania

#2: Lion

Lion in the Serengeti Tanzania

#3: Leopard

Leopard in Serengeti Tanzania

#4: Rhinoceros

Rhinoceros in Ngorongoro Crater Tanzania

#5: Buffalo

Buffalo in Ngorongoro Crater Tanzania

Which of the “Big Five” kills the most people?

Everyone on my trip thought the answer to that was lion. But interestingly, none of the “Big Five” are the most deadly wild animals for humans. So while all are hard and dangerous to hunt, there are other wild beasts that we are more likely to fall victim to. The most deadly creature is the mosquito, which is responsible for the deaths of around 750,000 people a year. Next are snakes and the domestic dog (!) The wild animal to be most cautious of is the hippopotamus. They are kill around 750 people a year. Lions and jackals about 500 in the same period.

The Hippopotamus is the most deadly wild animal for humans!
hippopotamus in the Serengeti Tanzania

Where in Africa can you see the “Big Five”?

Tanzania is a great place to see them as I discovered, with great parks like the Ngorongoro Crater and Serengeti giving you the chance to see them. However, they can also be seen in countries like Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Namibia, Rwanda, South Africa, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

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For more about my Tanzania Safari visit: tipsfortravellers.com/tanzania-safari-tips

Disclaimer: I travelled as a guest of Titan Travel on their 9-night Titan “Wild Plains of Tanzania” safari. To see all the pictures of the animals I saw look at my SmugMug Tips For Travellers Tanzania Album.

Gary Bembridge

I grew up in Zimbabwe, but I have been based in London since 1987. My travel life spans more than three decades and that includes more than 95 cruises. In 2005, I launched Tips for Travellers to make it easy and fun for people to discover, plan and enjoy incredible cruise vacations. And the rest, as they say, is history. I have the largest cruise vlogger channel currently on YouTube, with more than 3 million video views per month.

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