According to tourist brochures a modern day African safari is not complete without having spotted each member of the Big Five. Some companies even go so far as to award certificates to those guests who have experienced the big five on their safari.
The big 5 is a collective term used to describe lion, leopard, buffalo, black rhino and elephant Although seemingly patented by the photographic tourism market the big five is a term that originated during the early days of trophy hunting and indicated the five most dangerous animals to hunt and hence the most sought after trophies.
The part that constitutes the trophy differs with each animal. The lion is sought for its mane, the elephant its tusks, the buffalo and rhino the horns and the leopard the general body size and size of the head.
With the advent of luxury photographic safari travel in the 1970’s in South Africa’s private game reserves the big 5 became the largest selling point of a safari and despite attempts by many individuals and organizations at ridiculing the concept aggressive marketing ensures the popularity continues to grow.
The black rhino was the original member of the Big five but with the scarcity of the species today the more common white rhino has taken its place in many areas as many forget the original ideal.
The buffalo is responsible for the most human deaths annually. The leopard is hunted by setting out baits. Despite the ban on ivory trading, elephants are still legally hunted in some countries. Although many countries have banned trophy hunting it is still big business in Africa.