These are Africa's big five animals!

What are Africa’s big five animals?

The wildlife in Africa is one of the most sought out to see in real life. These animals bring in a lot of tourists who are eager to see the animals in their natural habitat. 

Did you know that there are five animals in particular that draw in a lot of tourists? Those animals are called Africa’s big five. 

What are the big five in Africa?

The term “big five” was given to what is considered to be the five most difficult animals to hunt in Africa. This term goes back to Africa’s colonial period. 

The big five animals are the African elephants, lions, leopards, African buffalo and rhinoceroses. These animals were hunted down as trophies and are still being hunted today.

In recent years, the big five animals have also brought tourists who are seeking to see these animals on safaris. This shift of attention has raised the importance it is to protect and keep these animals alive. 

Before you search what are the big five in Africa, our African elephant researchers have listed all five for you and why we need to protect them. 

The big five in animals in Africa


You know the lion as the king of the jungle, but did you know that it is also the largest big cat in Africa? The Smithsonian National Zoo has stated that the African lion can grow between 9 to 10 feet long. The weight of one of these cats is between 242 to 418 pounds. 

Although it might be the largest cat, it is currently at risk of being lost forever. The African lion is listed as vulnerable. It is estimated that there are around 23,000 lions living in the wild. Population numbers of this cat are declining due to poaching, habitat loss and illegal body part trade. 

African elephants

Of course, the largest land mammal in the world would be one of the big five animals in Africa. The African elephant stands on average between 8.2 to 13 feet tall. It can weigh between 2.5 to 7 tons! This animal is distinguishable by its size, ears, trunk and tusks. 

An elephant’s tusks are considered to be valuable and have been the cause of why many of these elephants are poached. The mighty African elephant is listed as vulnerable. There are around 400,000 African elephants left in the wild today. The cause of this population decline is due to a mixture of poaching, habitat loss and conflicts with humans. 


The African rhino is another large mammal, although it is not as large as an elephant. There are two species of rhinos: the white rhino and the black rhino. The white rhino is about 5 to 6 feet tall and can weigh as much as 3,080-7,920 pounds. In contrast, the black rhino stands at 5.2 feet and weighs between 1,760-3,080 pounds. 

Although there are two species of rhinos, both populations are decreasing due to poaching. Rhinos are poached for their horns. Today, the black rhino is listed as critically endangered, and the white rhino is listed as near threatened. 

African buffalos

The African buffalo is a massive cow-like animal. It has large horns and eats lots of grass. This herbivore stands at 4 to 5 feet and weighs 600 to 1,840 pounds. Although it gives the appearance of a large cow, African buffalos are dangerous. 

When humans are hunting it, this animal is known to stalk its prey, circle it ,then counter-attack. That is why they are referred to as the black death. It is the only big five that is not currently at risk of being lost forever. 


It might be obvious that the largest big cat is on the list of the big five, but did you ever think that the smallest big cat would be too? The leopard is the smallest big cat. This cat grows to be 3 to 6.2 feet long and can weigh between 80 to 165 pounds

The leopard might be small compared to other cats but is fast. It can reach speeds of 56 to 60 kilometers per hour. However, leopard populations in Africa are declining due to poaching. They are being hunted for their meat, skin and other body parts. As of right now, they are listed as vulnerable. There is an estimate of fewer than 5,000 leopards left in South Africa

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