What Is The Big Five?

Monday, March 25, 2013

What is the Big Five?

What animals make up the Big Five? Outside of bar trivia night, this classification may not be as important today since travelers going on safari tend to be shooting the animals they see with a camera rather than with a hunting rifle. However, the Big Five is still an important classification for safari-goers interested in checking off “See the Big Five” from their bucket list.

For those wondering, the Big Five refers to these five animals:

1) African elephant
2) Black rhinoceros
3) Cape buffalo
4) Lion
5) Leopard

Though genetically these animals have little in common (except maybe a shared distaste for gawking tourists in faux-safari getups), the Big Five historically referred to a set of animals that were the most difficult to hunt on foot, and thus the most prized. With the decline of hunting in Africa and the rise of wildlife conservationism, you’re more likely to hear references to the Big Five by safari and tour operators than by hunters.

As a side note, if you’re looking to distinguish the black rhinoceros from the white rhinoceros, don’t go by the coloring — their names have nothing to do with the colors black and white. In reality, the white rhinoceros was likely either a reference to the Dutch word wijd (as in wide), which described the white rhinoceros’s mouth, or wide as a reference to their large population numbers (which meant the black rhinoceros was harder to find and ultimately hunt down).

By Matt Stabile



Matt Stabile Bio PictureMatt Stabile is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of The Expeditioner. The Expeditioner began in 2008 and is headquartered in New York City. You can read his writings, watch his travel videos or contact him at any time at TheExpeditioner.com. (@TheExpeditioner)

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