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Top 5 African Animals to Spot on Safari

Top 5 African Animals to Spot on Safari

  • Author: Meg Jerrard
  • Date Posted: Apr 20, 2014
  • Category:
  • Address: Serengeti National Park

An African Safari is generally quite high on the bucket list of any traveler, and between Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Uganda, Zimbabwe and Zambia, there is no shortage of options or availability!

Each country is a popular safari destination in their own right, and each of the above provides travelers with an absolute classic African Safari setting which pretty much guarantees spotting the “Big Five!” That being said, a Tanzania safari is usually most popular with the majority of travelers, Tanzania being home to the famed Serengeti National Park.

“The big five” animals of Africa are the lion, leopard, buffalo, rhino and elephant.  While African wildlife is definitely not limited to just those above mentioned, the term “big five” was coined by game hunters, referring to the most difficult and dangerous African beasts to catch on foot.

Nowadays African Safaris have turned this into a clever marketing term, as today it is more about choosing which lens to shoot them with!  We managed to ‘shoot’ the following Big 4 – missing out on a shot of a Rhino.  The Rhino is the hardest to spot in the wild, however, as they have been hunted to nearlly the point of extinction.

All animals below “shot” by Mike Jerrard!


The King of the savanna (not the jungle!), lions are the largest, fiercest and most sociable of African cats.  They live in prides of up to 40 lions and the lionesses will do all the hunting, sharing their prey with the males of a pride. Thankfully we remained within the confines of our Safari truck, however If you find yourself on foot within close proximity to a lion, DON’T turn and run! Easier said than done, I know, however a running target will look prey and will therefore probably be seen as such!  Try to make yourself look big instead, while gradually backing away.


King of the Savanna


The largest land mammal in the world, the African Elephant weighs up to 6 tonnes!  You many recognize him by his large trunk, huge ears that cool the body when flapped, and highly sought after tusks.  Keep your distance from wild elephants as the can be dangerous, especially herds of mothers with young elephants.  Remember that if an elephant is flapping it’s ears and kicking up dust there’s a high likelihood it is about to charge – and make sure if in a vehicle you have a way to drive forward – elephants can run faster than a car can reverse!!


Largest mammal in the world.


The African buffalo weighs a little less than a ton, and has a reputation for being bad tempered, aggressive and dangerous.  Single buffaloes can be unpredictable and wild, however they are usually quite tame when in a herd…notwithstanding a tendency to stampede in mass when startled!


Weighing in a little less than a tonne!


They are a cousin of the lion, however slightly smaller.  Leopards are excellent at camouflage which leads to the impression that they are rare, and are active at night which also allows them to stay hidden. They prefer hunting in the dark and use the day to lounge around in trees. Leopards are very independent, and will only rarely be seen together during mating.


Leopard – excellent at camouflage!

Next time we head on African Safari hopefully we can spot a Rhino in order to say that we have truly seen the African Big Five!

Which is your favorite African Animal?

 About Megan Claire

Megan is an Australian Journalist who has been travelling and blogging around the world for the last 7 years to inspire others to embark on their own worldwide adventure!  Her husband Mike is an American travel photographer, and together they have made the world their home.

Follow their journey on FacebookGoogle+ and Twitter.


  1. Truly African, Tanks Megan. Though Gorillas and other primates have become equally competitive in Africa especially East AFrica

    • Glad you enjoyed the post :) Would love to spend some more time in Africa and truly get to experience Gorillas and other primates in their natural habitats :)

  2. Wow, lucky you for seeing a leopard!

    We were told by a private game reserve manager that in his 20+ years of working there he’s only seen a leopard twice… So no chance for us to spot one on our Big 5 safari :(

    We did, however, see rhinos and a bunch of other amazing African animals :)


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