Africa’s Big Five.. or are They?

Africa’s big five refers to supposedly the five biggest killers of mankind… well on this I don’t agree. Maybe in the days of the pioneers and those of the big hunters, but not today…

The first… Elephant…..

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Meeting up with one of these outside of a National Park is highly unlikely, and within the Parks if you are not stupid, your chances of not having your car turned over is up to you… be stupid and think of these gentle giants as pets … and you will quickly discover that they aren’t…  African elephants, especially older bulls and young males, can be aggressive, and death is normally by being trampled…. 6 ton is kind’a heavy…. In places where poaching is rife and/or the elephants’ habitats are threatened, elephants are more aggressive, and rightly so…

The second… Lion..



Lions live throughout sub-Saharan Africa (except for forests and deserts) in protected areas. Lions can be extremely dangerous and the famous man-eating lions of Tsavo were not just a myth. A 2005 study showed that lion attacks on man were on the rise in Tanzania and Mozambique. Sick male lions are mostly responsible for the hundreds of human deaths that occur each year because of these attacks. So when visiting a park, stay in your car… these are not cats that you can cuddle…

Thirdly my favourite, the Buffalo… scared of nothing….

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They have reputedly killed more Big Game Hunters than any other specie… they are thought to kill nearly 200 people each year… standing around like herds of cattle, they can be hugely underestimated… a big bull will seem to be looking right through you… but give him the chance and he’s going to gore you if he feels the least threatened…. 700 kg of strong muscle will make an ugly mess of you when he’s finished tossing you around like a rag doll… Most Lion will not even contemplate taking them on, and their ferocity when protecting their young, has proven the demise of many lion…

Then fourthly the Leopard..

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This cat has had a bad wrap for many years… yes he has killed humans, but not in great numbers.. the chances are he will avoid you, but again don’t treat this cat as a domestic.. he is a ferocious killer and when cornered will not back down.. his bite is far worst than his bark, which is nothing more than a type of cough… So if you decide to go poaching at night and hear a slight cough, say your prayers, he’s seen you, has warned you, and now the silent killer is going to kill you….. luckily this seldom happens….

The fifth, the rhino


You would far rather see the other end of this monster than this end…. but beware he can turn on a whistle, or a dime… and that huge body can go far faster than even Usian Bolt.. He might just point to the sky showing the direction he’s about to travel, after that horn has entered his rear orifice…. The black Rhino is far more aggressive than the white, and will attack rather than run, so find a tree and start to climb long before he decides to come and find you… he will detect you by sound and smell (actually half blind) and when he does he isn’t going to warn you…

But here is where the others come in…

The crocodile, the Nile crocodile..

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Crocodiles kill hundreds of people each year in Africa. It can be found in almost every major river throughout the continent as well as many lakes. Most fatalities occur while people are washing or collecting food near river banks and lake shores. Fisherman are also prone to attack as they slide their boats in and out of the water. Crocodiles attack by dragging their prey under water and drowning them. Some crocodiles will also then roll their bodies repeatedly to weaken their prey, and this happens more times than we would like to think… so be aware when walking around near possible infested water…

The Hippo (hippopotamus)

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The hippo is responsible for more human fatalities in Africa than any other large animal. Male hippos actively defend their territories which run along the banks of rivers and lakes. Females have also been known to get extremely aggressive if they sense anyone coming in between them and their babies, who stay in the water while she feeds on the shore. Hippos can run at speeds of over 20 miles an hour and they have enormous jaws which host up to 20 inch canines. They can basically cut you in half… so beware these are not to be taken lightly… Yet not considered one of the big five…

And now for the biggest killer of all, yet not one that tourists come to Africa to film.. The Mosquito..


The mosquito is responsible for killing more Africans than any other through the spread of malaria and other diseases. Malaria kills over a million Africans every year, most of these are children under the age of five. Malaria is only spread by the female Anopheles mosquito. They are most active around dawn and dusk. There are in fact around 3,500 species of mosquito flying around and their average life-span is about two weeks. So … you can’t shoot them … they’re too small, so take the necessary precautions or suffer the disease like I did…

67 thoughts on “Africa’s Big Five.. or are They?

    • The Buff is by far my favourite… having experienced them chasing lion off a kill, and the lion running for the hills, they just went way up in my book… always seem to shout for the underdog.. but these guys are not the underdogs…

  1. What great pics. I wouldn’t like to come up against any of these amazing creatures,

    I would hate to get malaria and I hope you’re well and truly on the mend (but I hear it’s something you never really recover from). We only have Ross River Fever in these parts which is a mild form of malaria (but still enough to knock you for a six!) I take insect repellent everywhere with me 😉

    • I had the disease nearly 30 years ago but believe it, it does come back, not as bad, but out of nowhere… The joint aches and mild fever are what attacks you… get the pills when it starts and not long and you’re well again….

  2. How magical, just magical, to have these great GREAT animals in your ‘back yard’. I just can’t get past the big cats. I love love the felines.

    I had zero idea that the mosquito causes that many deaths – the most in Africa. It seems impossible to wipe it out. I thought everything is treatable these days… well, no, you still die from cancer – but MOSQUITOS? …

  3. Fabulous photos of these magnificent deadly creatures. That Hippo looks really scary indeed. The mosquito is a horrid pest, but I guess he ahs his purpose in the big scheme of things. 😕

  4. Truly stunning photos – all of them …. Fantastic job here The Leopard is my favorite – and I just love lions – so majestic and beautiful. You and your camera is a fab team. Event the deadly mosquito look amazing. Thanks for all the facts …

  5. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have been working to clear the world of Malaria. That’s a BIG job now that I’ve read the facts you site! Wonderful images as well. You got to close to that crock for my taste!!!

  6. I fully expected that the last photo would have been one of a man – a poacher. The ongoing tragedy of animals in the wild going extinct is one that we should be thoroughly ashamed of. Just read some news about lions in some area of Africa that will definitely be extinct within a few years. What a shame.

  7. wonderful photos of the likely suspects, all lined up, looking so guilty as charged, and the lowly mosquito at the finish, brilliant!

    • Ahhh the leopard my favourite… I’ve written a few short stories on them … just love them to bits… and have heard that bark at night while out camping in the bush… makes the hairs stand on end… lovely adrenaline rush…

  8. What an incredibly informative post with fantastic photos. I didn’t know any of these stats before I read your post. One of the farmers up the road had buffalo for awhile but they scared the hell out of everyone so he’s stopped having them. Regarding mosquitoes, we don’t get so many because we are inland but we get zillions of flies!

  9. Very impressive photos of even more impressive animals. And though they are strong, even ferocious at times, we still need to protect them. Except the last one. The mosquito should find a deserted island and stay there. Though they hold their own place in the ecosystems.

    • Thanks Marion… I’m thinking the big five scenario needs updating… what with the mosquito, crocs, hippo and snakes we need to change the tables a bit… yes it is a shame that we have to protect these animals now, as we continue to steal more and more of their habitat…

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