0773236047 info@bariensafaris.com
0773236047 info@bariensafaris.com

The Big Five animals


The term, ‘the big five’ was coined during the hunting era and referred to the big five animals most desired by the ‘white hunters’. These days, the only hunting that is done of the legendary ‘big five’ is by camera. They are: the elephant, rhino, lion, leopard and buffalo.
The African elephant, the world’s largest land animal
The African elephant lives in small family groups of 10-20 elephants, which often congregate in much larger herds at water or food sources. Elephant society is matriarchal, senior females dominating the herds while the bulls live alone or in bachelor groups. Depending almost entirely on its trunk for scent and communication, for washing, clearing, carrying, learning, drinking and eating, an elephant’s lifespan (60 -70 years) depends very much on its teeth, which are highly adapted to its mode of living. As one tooth wears away the next moves down the jaw to replace it, and when the last tooth has come forward and is worn down the elephant will die of starvation. Although their sight is poor, elephants have an excellent sense of smell and well-developed hearing. Like humans, elephants lead complex inter-dependent social lives growing from helpless infancy through self-conscious adolescence to adulthood. Surprisingly graceful on their padded and carefully placed feet, a large herd of elephants can merge into the trees and disappear within minutes; their presence betrayed only by the noisy cracking of branches as they strip trees and uproot saplings.
Lion, king of the cats
The lion is the largest of Kenya’s three big cats, weighing up to 280 kg. Inherently lazy, the lion is immensely powerful; at one leap it can clear fences 4 meters high and chasms 12 meters long. Its amber eyes, like those of the leopard, differ from those of other cats in so much as they are circular rather than oval. Lions hunt communally, running down their prey at a top speed of around 64 kph and, although they will kill almost any animal, they prefer large herbivores which are the mainstay of their diet. Sightings of lions are normally during daylight hours when the pride is at rest, having spent most of the night in hunting, patrolling and playing. Although they rarely attack humans without provocation, lions are extremely dangerous and should be treated with particular caution (you should never get out of your car in lion territory).
The African buffalo, the only native African cow
The African or Cape buffalo is closely related to the domestic cow. Generally docile, buffalos can be extremely dangerous when threatened or surprised and must be regarded with extreme caution – especially lone bulls or cows with calves. Intensely gregarious, buffalos form into herds of between 200 and 2000 animals. Voracious eaters (both grazers and browsers), they spend most of their 15-20 year lifespan consuming fodder to maintain their strength and stamina.
The black or hook-lipped rhinoceros
Ruthlessly hunted for its horn, which is widely used in Chinese medicine and much prized as a dagger handle in the Middle East, the black rhino came close to extinction at the close of the last century and still remains Africa’s single most endangered large mammal. The smaller of the two rhino species (weighing approximately 900 -1,400 kg), the black rhino has a more concave back than the white rhino, relatively small, three-toed hoofs, and a pointed prehensile upper lip, which is ideally suited to browsing in the bush and forest.
The difference between the black rhino and the white rhino
Contrary to popular imagination, rhino are neither black nor white; both are a similar shade of grey. The name ‘white’ originates from the Afrikaans word ‘weit’, which means ‘wide’, and refers to the width of the white rhino’s mouth, which is specially adapted to grazing. To tell the difference between black and white – look at the mouth of the animal, the white rhino is a grazer and has a wide mouth, the black rhino is a browser and has a pointed prehensile (capable of grasping) lip.
Leopard, beautiful, secretive and shy
Thanks to its harshly rasping territorial call, the intensely secretive leopard is more often heard than seen. A supreme ambush hunter, the leopard is a solitary animal spending much of its time up a selection of favoured trees, which it uses as game larders for its kills. Mainly nocturnal and extremely unsociable, the leopard is very difficult to spot. Viewing tip: scan the trees for the telltale sign of the dangling tail.
Cats Lion, king of the cats
The lion is the largest of Kenya’s three big cats, weighing up to 280 kg. Inherently lazy, the lion is immensely powerful; at one leap it can clear fences 4 meters high and chasms 12 meters long and its amber eyes, like those of the leopard, differ from those of other cats in so much as they are circular rather than oval. Lions hunt communally, running down their prey at a top speed of around 64 kph and, although they will kill almost any animal, they prefer large herbivores which are the mainstay of their diet. Sightings of lions are normally during daylight hours when the pride is at rest, having spent most of the night in hunting, patrolling and playing. Although they rarely attack humans without provocation, lions are extremely dangerous and should be treated with particular caution (you should never get out of your car in lion territory).

Book Now

Product Enquiry