Big Five Animals – Wildlife Watching in Kenya, Tanzania , Uganda & Rwanda.

The Big Five animals are the following African wildlife: African Lion, African Leopard, Cape Buffalo, African Elephant, and the Rhinoceros. The moniker the “Big Five” refers to the five deadliest animals that were popular with big game hunters.

However, it is now more commonly used on safari as the five animals to see. Many game reserves, parks, and safari operators use it as their main marketing term. It’s pretty much unavoidable to go on safari, plan a safari, or even think about a safari without coming across the term “The Big Five.”

It’s also one of the first questions asked on safari and we figured it would be useful to clarify what exactly the big five are and a little about each animal.

The African Lion

The lion is the king of the jungle. Granted, the one habitat lions can not be found in Africa is the jungle. It’s little wonder that they are the most sought after animal on safari and likely the one animal synonymous with Africa. African lions live in a pride and are thought to be some of the most social cats in the world. Tanzania is home to a whopping 40% of Africa’s lion population!  While, a lion on the hunt is marvelous to watch the majority of safari goers see the lions basking in the sun after a meal, just like a house cat.

The African Leopard

The Leopard is the most widespread of the big five in Africa. However, it is the most elusive and the hardest to spot. The leopards are masters at camouflage. They choose to stalk their prey and once caught they use their power to pull the meal into a tree.

Spotting one in the wild feels like a real treat. It took us five months on the continent until we saw one stalking two Red Lechwe in Moremi National Park. By the time we could grab the camera he was already hiding underneath a bridge. It was a fleeting glimpse of a leopard and it illustrates the illusiveness of these majestic animals. Update: We saw a few more leopards in the Masai Mara, the Lower Zambezi, Mana Pools, and Hwange!

The Cape Buffalo

It’s hard to pick which of the big five animals would be the most frightening animal to come across in the bush, but the buffalo might be the easy choice. They’re known for employing the strategy of charge first – ask questions later. So, when we went on a bush walk in search of them we made sure to have the right safari clothes for the environment, and that was green in the rainy season.

They can charge at almost 35mph and are one heck of a formidable force.  There are almost no predators to these guys other than some very brave (and hungry) lions or a massive crocodile. Don’t worry you’re at least safe in a game viewer!

The African Elephant

Despite being one of the most loved African animals Elephants are very deadly. There is no denying the elephant belongs in the “Big Five.” However, one of Africa’s most dangerous animals is also it’s most iconic. They can be found roaming in herds in 37 of the African nations and they’re also the largest land animals on earth.

Elephants are highly intelligent animals displaying emotions, memories, problem-solving skills, and deep social bonds on a daily basis. It only requires a few minutes with these animals to understand the intelligence and what all the fuss is about.

They are easily our favorite animal to watch on safari. The thought that these animals are so frequently abused by humans pains us both. Elephants are not meant to live in cages, give us rides, or provide us ivory, they belong in the African wild.

The Rhino

The Rhino is the most threatened of the Big Five animals. Poachers are ravaging the Rhino population due to the popularity of Rhino horn in Vietnam and China. It is an utterly ridiculous practice of believing it cures impotence. Leave it to some men to come up with the most far-fetched idea that has lead to devastating effects. The population of Rhino is dwindling and it’s likely they will become extinct.

We’ve seen two types of rhinos in Africa, the black rhino, and the white rhino. Despite their names, both animals are similar in color. The two most notable differences between the species are the mouth and size. Black rhinos are nearly extinct, they are smaller in size, and have a pointed lip designed for eating bushes and twigs. While the White Rhino is has a wide lip and is larger in size. The top photo is a Black Rhino and the bottom is a White Rhino.

Ones with their horn like below are protected by 24/7 armed guards and the others are left in the wild after having their horns surgically removed.

Tips for self-drive

If you are looking for the best the destination to par take a self-drive trip, look no further than Rwanda. There are very many car hire companies in Rwanda today that one can book a car for self-drive. Driving in a new destination like Rwanda is really challenging and there is need to be very careful while on the remotest routes of the country. Visitors are strongly advised to review their personal safety and security posture, to remain vigilant and to be cautious by lowering their public profile when frequenting public places and landmarks. Below are some of the tips to help you stay safe while on self-drive tours in Rwanda.

Check the vehicle thoroughly

Before setting off, it is advisable that you check on the vehicle to be used thoroughly. Take a look at the tyres and find out if they are in better conditions and if there is a spare tyre in its better shape. For longer journeys, you will need at least two tyres. As well make sure that you have checked the water level, lights, oil, wiper blades and for any linkages.

Driving after dark

We plan our self-drive safaris in Rwanda so that you try to avoid driving at night because in the cities, the majority of carjacking take place after dark while rural roads are rarely lit by street lights, making people and free-ranging livestock difficult to spot.  It becomes harder to find the hotel as road signs or landmarks are not so clearly visible. Darker areas are too challenging even when it comes to accessing any kind of help.

Use Road maps and Gps

While transferring to the various safari destinations of your choice ensure to carry a GPS to direct you along the different routes in the country as well as travel road atlas and maps or directions and know exactly where you are going but don’t just reply on the GPS in Rwanda.

Follow traffic Laws while on road

Like any destination, traffic laws are worth following if you are to stay out of dangers on the road. Make sure that you can read road signs, do not drink and drive and at all times, put on your seat belts

Have breaks, eat and fuel the vehicle

Refreshing the mind after a long drive is very important factor when you are on self-drive holiday. Have adequate eats and fuel the vehicle. Never leave a big center without filling your gas tank, otherwise you may not find any fuel station in the next area especially the protected areas in Rwanda.

Too much driving

Usually people plan to drive way too far in one day and sometimes they plan a hectic trip which has them driving too far and away too often. If you are feeling tired, it is advisable that you park aside and have a rest or give your colleague to also take up the wheel, provided he or she possess a valid driver’s license.

Close windows and doors

Keep your windows and doors locked when driving through urban areas, and especially when stopped at a traffic light. Never leave valuables in sight when parked, and try to park your car in a well-lit area that’s protected by car guards.

Mind about the rest of other road users

Most of Rwanda’s roads are narrow and there can be some pedestrian walks. You need to be attentive and take note of other road users like, students, cyclists and cattle as most of them can be crossing the road.

Driving license

Make sure that your driving license is valid written in English and if not, you’ll need to apply for an International Drivers License ahead of your trip. To stay safe while on your trip, you need to follow the above listed tips and you will enjoy your tour in Rwanda.