Africa is king when it comes to wild animals and safaris. There are more than 1100 species of mammals alone, amounting to millions of animals on the continent. To give you an idea - just as part of the famous big migration each year between the Masai Mara in Kenya and the Serengeti in Tanzania, there are an estimated two million wildebeest!
There are lots of wild animals to see in Africa, but none are as sought after as the legendary "BIG 5". Here they are:
1. The Lion (Panthera Leo). King of the Jungle!
Lions are at the top of the food chain. They eat meat, and lots of it. When you are in their territory, you are part of the food chain - so watch out! A male lion can easily weigh more than 200 kg/ 440 lb and can run up to 80 kmph/ 50 mph. Here's an interesting fact - their heels don't touch the ground when they walk. And did you know the name "Simba" comes from the Swahili language... meaning lion?
2. The African Elephant (Loxodonta Africana). Boom!
Of course the biggest land animal in the world has to be on the list. These magnificent giants can weigh up to 6000 kg/ 13,200 lb. An elephant's trunk alone can weigh up to 180 kg/400 lb and be more than 2m/ 7 ft long. And apart from breaking all the weight records, elephants are the only mammals that can't jump.
3. The African Buffalo or Cape Buffalo (Syncerus Caffer).
Not to be mistaken for your average friendly water buffalo ploughing the fields in other parts of the world, the African buffalo is said to be 4 times stronger than the average ox, and they aren't afraid of anything. Just one look from an African buffalo and you will know you are not welcome in its domain. They are big, strong, aggressive and unpredictable. Weighing in at around 900 kg/ 2000 lb of pure muscle, it's best to view them from a safe distance. They can be cranky, to say the least.
4. The Black Rhino (Diceros Bicornis). Who said unicorns don't exist?
Did you know that black rhinos have 3 toes on each foot? Black rhinos are known for their short temper and they won't think twice before charging you. That charge is lead by a massive, sharp horn up to 4 ft long, backed by 1,400kg/ 3,100lb of muscle, at a speed of more than 50 kmph/ 80 mph. It's easy to see why this African beast earns its spot in list of The Big Five.
5. The Leopard (Panthera Pardus)
The last predator on the list of The Big Five, the leopard is surely one of the most beautiful animals in the world... and one of the deadliest. They are well-camouflaged and super elusive, making them difficult to spot (mind the pun). Whether they're hiding between boulders on the ground or high up in a tree, their prey must be surprised when the last thing they ever see is a beautiful leopard.