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The Big Five
· Elephant
· Rhinoceros
· African buffalo
· Lion
· Leopard
The biggest five
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· Hippopotamus
· Rhinoceros
· Giraffe
· Eland antelope
Five cats
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· Leopard
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Five monkeys
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Five rare antelopes
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  Glossary
Safari glossary
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Wildlife & nature:
The Big Five
The Big Five is a collective name that includes five African mammals, which were (and may still be) desired trophies among hunters:
 
· Elephant
· Rhinoceros
· African buffalo
· Lion
· Leopard

Despite the name, they are not the five biggest mammals, but rather the five most dangerous ones to hunt, especially on foot. (For the five truly biggest species, see 'The biggest five' in the column to the right.)

The fascination in the Big Five has been inherited by today's safari-goers, who, hunting with cameras only, are often happy to see all five.

Big Five parks
Today, some parks are referred to as Big Five parks. This means that the Big Five can be seen there, but also implies that the park has a wide variety in species in general.

Most packaged tours to Kenya or Tanzania include Big Five parks, such as Serengeti in Tanzania or Masai Mara in Kenya. As these parks are often combined with other good parks, you have a good chance to see all five species on such a safari.

On a normal safari, you will probably see elephants, African buffalos and lions at least a couple of times, as they are not very rare or shy animals.

Leopards and rhinos
You need more luck to see leopards and rhinoceros. Leopards are secretive and spend most days resting in places where they are difficult to spot.

Black rhinoceros, or browse rhinoceros.

African buffalo.

Lion.

Leopard.

 

The rhinos have been decimated through intense hunting and poaching, and only small populations remain in certain parks. If you go to the proper parks, where these species are regularly observed, you still have a fair chance of seeing them.

There is no real reason to focus too much on seeing the Big Five. There are many mammal species as interesting, or more so, to watch than for example the buffalo, which is of course an impressive animal, but rarely very active. Cheetahs, giraffes and monkeys may be much more fun to see.

Where to find the Big Five?
Serengeti and Ngorongoro in Tanzania and Masai Mara in Kenya are probably the best Big Five parks in East Africa. To maximize your chances, you can combine parks, as they have different strengths as to which animals are usually seen.

Good combinations are Serengeti and Ngorongoro in Tanzania, or Masai Mara and Lake Nakuru in Kenya.

 
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Page updated 17 February 2009