The term ‘Big Five’ goes back to the colonial days of game hunters and the difficulty of pursuing on foot and ultimately killing these beautiful animals. Fortunately, our species for the most part has abandoned the legal pursuit of vanquishing these gifts of nature, and instead, we now try to protect and preserve them.
The Lion King
It would be difficult to go on safari without expectations of seeing the ‘king of the jungle’. Fortunately, several of Kenya’s parks feature multiple prides of lions. The Tsavo Parks are home to the appropriately named Tsavo lions, a fascinating sub-species whose males sport unusually short manes.
But for sheer number of prides and therefore individual lions, a visit to the Masai Mara is essential. The park and its surrounding conservancies offer the best chance to watch these great predators on the prowl, especially during the season (July – October) of the Great Migration.
The Always Elusive Leopard
Sleek and mysterious, the leopard is a night hunter, on the prowl between sunset and sunrise. From its natural perch high on a tree branch, this graceful predator scans the horizon for its usual prey of grazers – antelope, gazelle, zebra, or wildebeest.
Leopards are found in the Masai Mara, Amboseli, the Tsavo Parks but also in smaller reserves like Nakuru National Park and Ol Pejeta Conservancy. At Ol Pejeta you can go on nighttime safaris which increases your chances of a sighting.
Elephants – Africa’s Giants
The African or Cape Buffalo
This fierce animal is the only one of the “Big Five” that isn’t endangered or considered vulnerable. Amongst hunters, it was always considered the most dangerous as it was easily provoked and would charge its pursuers, especially when wounded.
You’ll find this distinctive and sometimes ornery horned bovid in almost all of Kenya’s wildlife parks.
The Shy and Unusual Rhino
With its huge hulking body and unique set of horns rising from its nasal bridge, the big rhino is a special treat to witness. Despite their great form and threatening appearance, rhinos are quite shy, and finding them in the wild is not always easy.
Of the “Big Five”, the rhino is the most endangered and so special sanctuaries have been created for their protection from poachers and to nurture back the dwindling population.
You’ll find rhinos in most of the wildlife parks but especially in the sanctuaries harbored at Nairobi National Park, Ol Pejeta, and Lake Nakuru.
These five unique species, all with their particular story will highlight your safari and inspire awareness to protect them for future generations to enjoy.