What is the Big Five?
The term ‘Big Five’ refers to lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and Cape buffalo. Although it is a term that is now synonymous with tourism it was actually coined by big game hunters. It originally referred to the five species that were deemed dangerous to hunt; thankfully it now has a different connotation.
My view is that the hype surrounding the name is just a marketing ploy or to boast that your guide found the big five on one game drive (hoping for a big tip).
We find that most safari guests when asked what they want to see while on safari will quite rightly say “EVERYTHING”.
Imagine a game drive where you spend some quality time watching a herd of Elephant, understanding more about their behavior and the herd dynamics. Then later on you come across two Giraffe bulls necking (territorial fighting not kissing). You stop to watch a couple of red oxpeckers on the back of a loan Wildebeast and then enjoy a sundowner by a dam seeing and listening to a pod of Hippo as they prepare for their nights grazing. What a wonderful African experience, and you only saw one of the big five. But importantly you didn’t charge around trying to find the other four. After all there is always tomorrow. However, you did connect with the bush and wildlife and did get to understand a lot more. What a wonderful experience.
If you come across the big five every day, that’s great, but see it as a bonus. My advice is don’t come on safari with a tick list of animals you must see at all costs, rather enjoy every opportunity you have to be in the company of whatever wild animals your guide finds for you. There will be a lot of them.
Written by Will Fox