In Africa, the big five game animals are the African lion, African elephant, Cape buffalo, African leopard, and White/Black rhinoceros. The term big five game (sometimes 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. 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.
The big five are among the most dangerous, yet most popular species for big game hunters to hunt.
Countries where all the members of the big five can be found include Botswana, Zambia, Uganda, Namibia, Ethiopia, South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Malawi.
The African elephant is a very large herbivore having thick, almost hairless skin, a long, flexible, prehensile trunk, upper incisors forming long curved tusks of ivory, and large, fan-shaped ears. There are two distinct species of African elephant: African forest elephant and the African bush elephant Elephants are difficult to hunt because despite their large size, they are able to hide in tall grass and are more likely to charge than the other species.
The black rhinoceros is a large, thick-skinned herbivore having one or two upright horns on the nasal bridge. Rhinoceros may refer to either black or white rhinoceros. Among big five game hunters, the black rhinoceros is preferred, although it is now critically endangered.
The African or Cape buffalo is a large horned bovid. Buffalo are sometimes reported to be more dangerous to people in Africa than any other animal, although the same claim is also made of hippos and crocodiles. It is considered the most dangerous of the big five, reportedly causing the most hunter deaths, with wounded animals reported to ambush and attack pursuers.
The lion is a large carnivorous feline of Africa and northwest India, having a short, tawny coat, a tufted tail, and, in the male, a heavy mane around the neck and shoulders. Lions are desirable to hunters because of the very real danger involved. A lion may attack without provocation, and is considered by many to be the best of the big five
The leopard is a large, carnivorous feline having either tawny fur with dark rosette-like markings or black fur. Of the big five, it is most difficult to acquire hunting licenses for leopards. The leopard is considered the most difficult of the big five to hunt because of their nocturnal and secretive nature. They are wary of humans and will take flight in the face of danger. The leopard is solitary by nature, and is most active between sunset and sunrise, although it may hunt during the day in some areas. Leopards can be found in the savanna grasslands, brush land and forested areas in Africa.