Africa’s Big Five

In Africa, the Big Five game animals are the lionleopardrhinoceroselephant, and Cape buffalo.[1] The term was coined by big-game hunters, and refers to the five most difficult animals in Africa to hunt on foot,[2][3][4] but is now also widely used by safari tour operators.[5][2][6]

The 1990 and later releases of South African rand banknotes feature a different big-five animal on each denomination.

Countries where all can be found include AngolaBotswanaZambiaUgandaNamibiaEthiopiaSouth AfricaKenyaTanzaniaZimbabwe, the Democratic Republic of the CongoRwanda and Malawi.[7][8]

Species

African elephant

African bush elephant(Loxodonta africana)

The African elephant (Loxodonta africana) is a very large herbivore having thick, almost hairless skin, a long, flexible, prehensile trunk, upper incisors forming long curved tusks of ivory, and large, fan-shaped ears. The two distinct species of African elephant are: African forest elephant(Loxodonta cyclotis) and the African bush elephant (Loxodonta africana). Elephants are difficult to hunt because, despite their large size, they are able to hide in tall grass and are more likely to charge than the other species.[9]

Black rhinoceros

Black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis)

The black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis) is a large herbivore having two upright horns on the nasal bridge. Its thick (1.5–5 cm) protective skin, formed from layers of collagen positioned in a lattice structure, is very hard to puncture. It is now critically endangered, and hunting is extremely limited due to this. In the context of big-game hunting in Africa, the term “rhinoceros” may also refer to the white rhinoceros, but among big five game hunters, the black rhinoceros is preferred.[citation needed]

Cape buffalo

African Cape buffalo (Syncerus caffer)

The African buffalo or Cape buffalo (Syncerus caffer) is a large horned bovid. They are the only animals within the Big Five that are not endangered or threatened.[10] The Cape buffalo is considered by many to be the most dangerous of the big five to hunters,[11] with wounded animals reported to ambush and attack pursuers.[12]

African lion

Lion (Panthera leo)

The lion (Panthera leo) is a large carnivorous feline of Africa and northwest India, having a short, tawny coat, a tufted tail, and in the male, a heavy mane around the neck and shoulders. Lions are desirable to hunters because of the very real danger involved in hunting them.[13] [14][15]

African leopard

Leopard (Panthera pardus)

The leopard (Panthera pardus) is a large, carnivorous feline having either tawny fur with dark rosette-like markings or black fur. The leopard is considered the most difficult of the big five to hunt because of their nocturnal and secretive nature. They are wary of humans and will take flight in the face of danger. The leopard is solitary by nature, and is most active between sunset and sunrise, although it may hunt during the day in some areas. Leopards can be found in the savanna grasslands, brush land and forested areas in Africa. Of the big five, it is most difficult to acquire hunting licenses for.[citation needed]

Conservation status

Africa’s Big Five have become major concerns for wildlife conservationists in recent years. The African lion, African leopard and African bush elephant are all classified as vulnerable. The southern white rhinoceros is classified as near threatened while the black rhinoceros is classified as critically endangered, so hunting them is greatly restricted for the latter.[16] The African buffalo is the most popular big five game animal to hunt, as its conservation status is least concern, but it is experiencing a population decline in uncontrolled areas due to poaching and urbanization.

March 26, 2019 7:38 pm