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The expression Big Five was first created by big game hunters in 19th and early 20th century to describe the five most difficult animals to hunt on foot in Africa. African lion, African elephant, Cape buffalo, African leopard and rhinoceros have not made it to this group because of their size, but because of the danger and difficulty involved in bringing them down. Today you’ll see this term used in many tourist guides talking about African wildlife safaris, though the shooting is fortunately done by cameras and not weapons.
These five magnificent animals each have their own ‘specialty’ which made them both a nightmare and an exceptional trophy for hunters. Elephants are able to hide in tall grass and are more likely to charge than the others. Catching leopards is considered difficult due to their nocturnal and secretive nature. Lions’ habitat provides cover and camouflage which allows them to creep very close to their prey before charging. While huge in size, rhino can reach speeds of 40km/h (which is probably a bit faster than most of us can run) and black rhino is known to have a particularly volatile temperament. Still, out of the five, the Cape buffalo has reportedly caused most hunter deaths. If you ever saw them fighting each other for rank or females and heard the loud and scary noise their huge horns make while at it, this might come as no surprise.
Having been targeted by hunters for a very long time, these amazing and powerful creatures today face different vulnerability levels. African leopard is classified as near threatened and rhinoceros as critically endangered. Decades of rhino poaching driven by demand for their horns hit the peak in 2009, and as a result very few rhinos can today be found outside of national parks and reserves. It’s sad and good at the same time, as poachers are now using drugs, poisons and various sophisticated weapons to hunt them down.
If, like us, you are also an animal lover, keep tuned over the next period. We’ll be sharing stories about these 5 amazing creatures and you might learn some weird and wonderful things you’ve never heard about. And should you happen to go on a safari and spot one of these beautiful animals, make sure the only ‘weapon’ you carry in your hands is a camera.