In Africa, the big five game animals are the lion, leopard, rhinoceros (both black and white species), elephant, and Cape buffalo. The term The Big Five was coined by big-game hunters and refers to the five most difficult animals in Africa to hunt on foot. Subsequently the term was adopted by safari tour operators for marketing purposes. The term is used in most tourist and wildlife guides that discuss African wildlife safaris. The members of the Big Five were chosen for the difficulty in hunting them and the degree of danger involved, rather than their size.
While once popular amongst big game hunters, Africa’s Big Five have become major targets 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. 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.
The Big Five animals can be found extensively at game reserves in South Africa. This website will be a guide to finding the Big Five in South Africa.