animals that are the symbols of African safaris: the Big Five


African lion

Your majesty the king

The African lion, the emperor of the animal kingdom, can be found throughout the continent, from southern Sahara to South Africa. However, this nobility hasn’t prevented a drastic reduction of its population: from 200,000 animals in the early 20th century, it’s estimated that there are only 30,000 lions left in the world — a result of habitat loss and hunting.


African elephant


With an average height of 11 feet [3.3 m] and weighing 5.5 tons, the African elephant is the largest terrestrial animal in the world. Its huge ears and tusks that weigh as much as 155 pounds [70 kg] help this giant clear paths in the woods, removing plant and animal species for up to 11,580 square miles [30,000 square km]. There are only two elephant species left, totaling 600,000 animals.




Even though buffalos are herbivorous, they’re very aggressive, making them one of the hardest animals to hunt in Africa. Such predators as lions and leopards look for unattended calves or sick individuals to attack (always in groups). This protected animal is not endangered: with a population of 900,000, it’s estimated that 70% live in conservation areas.


African rhinoceros


These mammals, divided into two species — black and white (but they’re both gray) —, are named after the horn at the tip of their nose. There are only 5,000 black rhinos left in the world. But there’s still hope: in 1895, there were less than 100 white rhinos on the planet. After an extensive conservation initiative, we now have over 20,000 of these animals.



I think I saw a pussycat

While they’re not as “noble” as their cousins lions, leopards offer great danger: intelligent and fast, they have adapted to several habitats. Their compact body structure and long tail allow them to climb trees carrying prey up to six times their weight — a way to guarantee that hyenas or other predators won’t show up for dinner.