The Big Five
In the late 19th century and early 20th century, Europeans discovered East Africa as an area of abundant wildlife. Game hunting became a leisure activity for wealthy Europeans and Americans, including former United States president
As the hunting experience attracted more and more foreigners, it became a source of pride to kill some animal species. These were the lion, leopard, elephant, rhino and buffalo. They were then classified as the ‘Big Five’ and became every hunter’s dream kill.
As a conservation measure, game hunting was abolished in Kenya. However, the‘Big Five’ culture was not about to end. It was transferred to the safari world, with a ‘kill’ being every tourist’s desire. A ‘kill’ now refers only to spotting.
The ‘Big Five’ can be spotted in several locations in Kenya and Tanzania, though some parks have distinguished themselves as home to some species.
This is the king of the jungle. They usually live in prides, consisting of up to 15 females, one or two mature males and their cubs. The best places to view them are: The Maasai Mara and the Serengeti.
This is the most elusive of the big five. Leopards are usually solitary (unless during mating or with young cubs) and excellent climbers. As a result, leopards are commonly spotted on trees. The best places to view leopards are: Tsavo West and Samburu.
This is the largest land mammal and the most sociable of the big five. They majorly live in herds led by the eldest female.Though they can be spotted in almost all parks, the best places to view elephants are Amboseli and Tsavo East National Parks.
This is yet another solitary and elusive member of the big five. Rhinos were once greatly endangered, falling victims to poachers due to their precious horns. However, this has been cubed and their numbers are increasing steadily. The best places to view rhinos are the Ol Pejeta Conservancy, Lake Nakuru National Park and the Ngorongoro Crater.
Buffaloes are sociable, often spotted in herds of up to thousands. The buffalo is perhaps the most violent of the ‘Big Five’. The best places to view buffaloes are Tsavo East National Park and the Maasai Mara.