Which are the big five African animals and why are they called such? If you have never had answers for this question then this article is perfect for you because it has all the facts and information about these so called Big 5 animals (also referred to as the big five game). Surprisingly, there are only 11 countries in the world that harbor all these animals and all of them are African with Uganda also slotting up on the list. Among these big 5 safari animals are the African Elephant, Rhinoceros, Lion, Leopard and the Cape Buffalo. These animals were named the big five because they are not only among the most poached animals, most difficult to hunt on foot but are also the most dangerous. The phrase “Big Five” was crafted by hunters to refer to these animals that are difficult to poach on foot and has since then been used regularly in talks regarding African wildlife safaris.
Why these animals are over poached
As per stats, Elephants are actually turning out to be the most poached animals despite the efforts from respective game rangers to fight this act. Unfortunately, so many elephant lives are lost daily to an extent that some of the poachers are even stranded and always on the look out for where to sell ivory. Ivory is on high demand in countries like China (The world’s biggest market) and Japan with so many dirty traders willing to pay a huge amount of money for it. Ivory is used for various purposes and is durable! It has since been used to manufacture various appliances like piano keys, watches, Billiard balls, buttons for clothes, buckles, jewelries and more products.
How much is ivory worth per kg? The current price of ivory keeps fluctuating depending on it’s demand and supply. In 2014, the price rose from $720 per kilogram to approximately $2100 per kilogram as reported by the guardian and could keep rising in case of any present or future scarcity. Notably, each elephant tusk weighs around 23 – 45 kilograms when mature and should cost somewhere around $23000 to $250000 depending on the scarcity on the market.
Kenya tops the list of countries with the most poached elephants losing about 5 elephants each day a midst the big efforts placed on elephant poaching. Last year, Kenyan President – Uhuru Kenyatta set light to about 105 tonnes of ivory that were extracted from close to 8000 elephants and valued to be approximately $150 Million. You can watch the video below;
Just like Ivory, Rhino horns are also on great demand but mainly in Vietnam where a kilogram is estimated to cost somewhere around $80,000 to $100,000. Each Rhino horn weighs between 2.5 – 3 kilograms, implicating a horn should earn you no less than $250,000 in Vietnam. According to a source, Vietnamese believe these horns cure cancer and hangover hence, the high demand and ready market for it in their country.
Leopards are poached for their beautiful skin, Lions are poached for their bones where as Cape Buffaloes are poached for their huge curved horns. Poaching still remains a very big threat to respective wildernesses in Africa! In 2013, TANAPA’s (Tanzania National Park) outreach manager, Mr Mbugi revealed that the population of buffaloes had declined from 70,000 to about 40,000 while the elephant population had declined from 2,500 to 500 and the one of rhinos dropping from 1,000 to less than 20 animals, all in Serengeti National Park.
Where to find the Big 5 Animals
Like said previously, it’s only in Africa where you can find countries that harbors all the big five animals. So which are these African countries with the big 5 animals? These countries include; Rwanda, Uganda, Namibia, Ethiopia, Botswana, South Africa, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Malawi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Tanzania and Zambia. In Uganda, these animals can all be spotted from Murchison Falls National Park where as Botswana turns out to be one of the finest countries for a big five safari, having two national parks (Chobe National Park & Moremi Game Reserve) that harbor all these animals. The other countries are ideal too except for DRC because of it’s instability & insecurity.
Uganda is an awesome place for a big five safari because of it’s diverse nature of tourism. Despite being most known for harboring the biggest population of endangered mountain gorillas, Uganda is rich in wildlife and nature too. The same national park that harbors all the big five animals also harbors one of the finest centerpiece of Uganda’s tourism; “Murchison Falls”, a place where the water of the Nile squeezes itself through a tiny gorge and plunges 45 meters down to a pool. See photo of the Murchison Falls below;
For any further planning of a big five safari to Uganda, please check out my Uganda safaris review or simply inquire with any of these genuine Uganda tour operators for a good quotation of a safari to Murchison Falls National Park (home of the big five game animals).
Notably, Uganda didn’t have all the big five animals before for quite a good number of years until two white rhinos were introduced by Rhinofund at Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary in Masindi District. The same organization plans to maintain the conservation of these species of mammals and probably introduce more Rhinos in the near future. These two rhinos completed the big 5 animals chain in Uganda and partially boosted the tourism industry to some extent.
Despite these animals being among the hardest to hunt on foot, they still lead the list of the most poached animals in Africa especially Elephants. Poaching remains a big threat to various African countries and keeps rising day in day out irrespective the measures that are rolled to cub down this volatile practice. Most game rangers have lost their lives trying to protect these animals before and many are still willing to keep protecting them with their lives at risk. One of the studies confirmed the total number of elephants in the world has dropped significantly from approximately 1,200,000 to about 400,000 elephants over the years. Each year, about 30000 elephants lose their lives to poachers who are willing to take whatever risks to secure their tusks. If this continues, there could be no country with all the big 5 animals in the future which isn’t good for tourism, reason why respective tourism bodies endeavor so hard to hunt these poachers at the risk of their lives.