The phrase Big Five game was coined by big game hunters and refers
to the five large mammals that were originally most sought in Africa.
The term is still used in most tourist and wildlife guides that
discuss African wildlife.
The collection consists of the lion, elephant, buffalo, leopard
and black rhinoceros. The members of the big five were chosen for
the difficulty in hunting them and not their size, which is why
the leopard is on the list and the enormous hippopotamus (noted
for lazing around in pools and rivers all day) is not. The big five
are among the most dangerous animals.
The Lion is a large carnivorous feline mammal (Panthera
leo) of Africa and northwest India, having a short tawny coat, a
tufted tail, and, in the male, a heavy mane around the neck and
The Elephant is one of three very large herbivorous mammals,
Elephas maximus of south-central Asia, or Loxodonta africana and
Loxodonta cyclotis, both of Africa, having thick, almost hairless
skin, a long, flexible, prehensile trunk, upper incisors forming
long curved tusks of ivory, and, in the African species, large fan-shaped
Cape Buffalo are quite intimidating. They are the most dangerous
of the "Big Five" game animals for hunters. They are definitely
bovine characters, but also primal and with slightly mean appearance
at times, despite the bouffant look of their horns.
Leopards are large, ferocious cats (Panthera pardus) of
Africa and southern Asia, having either tawny fur with dark rosette-like
markings or black fur, and are the epitome of elegant cats. They
often eat and store food in trees.
The Rhinoceros is any of several large, thick-skinned, herbivorous
mammals of the family Rhinocerotidae, of Africa and Asia, having
one or two upright horns on the snout.
Above and beyond the Big Five, Africa is home to a diverse array
of unique wildlife, from the industrious little weaver bird to the
reclusive leopard. With such a outstanding assembly of species native
to its shores, it's no wonder that Africa is widely understood to
be the home of so many other worldwide species.
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