Center Stage: The Big Five
The Big Five
Lions, African elephants, African buffalo, leopards and rhinoceroses can all be found in Kruger. The Big Five, a phrase coined by big game hunters, refers to the five most difficult animals in Africa to hunt on foot.
The lion is the second largest feline, after the tiger. Lions spend much of their time resting and are inactive for about 20 hours each day. Their prey consists mainly of large mammals, with a preference for impalas, buffalo, warthogs and zebras. Adult lions have no natural predators.
The African elephant is the largest land mammal. On average, elephants live for 40 to 60 years, at which age the elephant no longer has teeth and will likely die of starvation, a common cause of death. According to one of our guides, elephants have no fears.
The African buffalo is the most dangerous of the Big Five. Besides humans, the buffalo have few predators and are capable of defending themselves against lions. When chased by predators, a herd will stick close together, making it hard for one member to be picked off.
The leopard is the smallest of the big cats and is an agile, graceful predator. The most elusive and stealthy of the Big Five, they move silently, are agile climbers and swim strongly. Leopards are mainly nocturnal and will stalk their prey silently before pouncing at the last minute.
The rhinoceros is a herbivore eating mostly leafy material. Rhinos are prized for their horns, which are made of keratin, the same protein that makes up hair and fingernails. Rhinos have excellent hearing, but poor eyesight.