The Big Five

In Africa, the big five game animals are the lion, leopard, rhinoceros (both black and white species), elephant, and Cape buffalo. The term “big five game” (usually capitalized or quoted as “Big Five”) was coined by big-game hunters and refers to the five most difficult animals in Africa to hunt on foot. Subsequently the term was adopted by safari tour operators for marketing purposes. The term is used in most tourist and wildlife guides that discuss African wildlife safaris. The members of the Big Five were chosen for the difficulty in hunting them and the degree of danger involved, rather than their size.

I was inspired to write this blog, following the death of Sudan last month, March 19, 2018.

Sudan, the world’s last male northern white rhinoceros, died in Kenya leaving his species one step closer to extinction, even as a group of scientists undertake an unprecedented effort to try to keep this animal from vanishing entirely.

Sudan was 45 years old, and his health had deteriorated in weeks prior to his death after a severe leg infection. In a statement, the Ol Pejeta Conservancy said that his condition worsened and that he was no longer able to stand up, so his veterinary team decided to euthanize him

Sudan was captured in Sudan in 1975, when he was just 2 years old, and was taken to Dvůr Králové Zoo in the Czech Republic. But as that zoo fell into financial troubles and rhinos failed to breed, Sudan was relocated in 2009 to the Ol Pejeta Conservancy, in Laikipia County, Kenya, along with two northern white rhino females named Najin and Fatu.

In July of 2017, a group of my friends and I did a safari at the Masai Mara, via Mara Serena Tours. Naturally, we were all looking forward with great anxiety to see all of the Big Five.

Our first drive was a sunset drive. Giraffes and elephants were easily spotted, up close.

Lions were relatively more difficult to spot, but we managed to see a few, once on the sunset drive on a mound hill and on another occasion we saw two, when we were heading to breakfast at the Hippo Pool.

The key to taking good photos at the Mara is having a camera where you can use long range lenses, as the safari jeeps are not allowed to get too close to the animals. Most of the animals are well camouflaged. It takes a experienced game warden/guide to sense and spot the animals which are few and far between.

This lion came very close to our vehicle

Below is a photo of a buffalo I took on one of the sunset drives.

When we spotted (excuse the pun) the leopard, to view it properly, we needed a pair of binoculars. No photos were taken by us but below is a photo from the Magical Kenya Facebook page

We understand that leopards are a rare sight in the Mara.

We only managed to get a glimpse of the a rhino as it kept itself well camouflaged behind a big tree and sprinted away as humans got close. We were amazed at its speed.

The photo below was taken from the Magical Kenya Facebook page.

We came to see the animals but were wooed by the sunrises and the sunsets over the Mara.

In my next blog I will do a picture book of more animals we saw on Mara but in the meantime you may read about my Masai moments here:

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