10 of the Biggest Animals in Africa

The Big Five is a term coined by big game hunters, to describe the five most difficult animals to hunt on foot in Africa. Since the term’s inception, it has evolved to describe animals that pose significant danger to humans who encounter them in the wild and may or may not include the original five animals described. Some safari companies will not guarantee any sighting of these animals due to their elusiveness and ferocity, but there are dozens of other animals you can see on safari in Africa if you’re willing to travel and know where to look!

1) Elephant

The African elephant (Loxodonta africana) is one of three recognised species in Africa. As a general rule, males are larger than females and have larger tusks. They are commonly seen by tourists around Kruger National Park in South Africa, and Botswana’s Okavango Delta; Tanzania’s Ngorongoro Crater and Serengeti National Park also boast healthy populations.

2) Giraffe

Giraffes are tall, tree-dwelling mammals with long necks and legs. The tallest recorded giraffe was a male named Gerald who measured 20 feet (6.1 meters) tall, including his 2-foot (60-centimeter) tongue.

3) African Buffalo

The African buffalo, also known as Cape buffalo, is a very large, even-toed ungulate. It’s arguably one of most dangerous animals found on any continent. Adult males are typically 4 m long and can weigh up to 1200 kg while females usually measure between 3 and 3.5 m and weigh around 600 kg. Both genders are very aggressive so it’s best to leave them alone if you ever cross paths with one.

4) Lion

Lions are regarded as one of the largest animals in Africa. A male lion can reach up to 10 feet long and they are very powerful, boasting a roar that is so loud it can be heard from up to five miles away. While lions don’t typically attack humans, they have been known to kill people for food or out of fear if surprised by people near their cubs.

5) Leopard

The leopard is an ambush predator. It will usually try to hide before attacking its prey, waiting until it has a clear shot at killing it. They are agile, stealthy, and very good at remaining still for long periods of time. These traits allow them to creep up on prey like antelope and giraffes. The leopard is one of only two big cats that can purr.

6) Cape Buffalo

Cape buffalo can weigh up to 1,500 pounds and have impressive horns that can reach upwards of 5 feet long. Because their numbers are increasing, they are becoming a concern for farmers who have their livestock threatened by these giants. By protecting farmers against these animals and building waterholes for them to drink from, conservation efforts are being made to ensure that there is no need for hunting Cape buffalo. To see one in person, make your way over to South Africa’s Kruger National Park.

7) Rhinoceros

The African rhinoceros (or simply rhino) is a group of five extant species of odd-toed ungulates in the family Rhinocerotidae. Two of these species are native to Africa and three to southern Asia. The remaining species, by far the most well-known, has historically been widespread in Southern Asia from Pakistan to Borneo and is today found in India, Nepal, and Indonesia as well as Vietnam and China.

8) Zebra

The common zebra has a white belly and horizontal black stripes on its upper body, which make it easy to differentiate from its close relative, striped horse. It also has black stripes on its legs.

9) Hippopotamus

A common inhabitant of rivers, lakes and swamps throughout sub-Saharan Africa, Hippos are often referred to as river horses. Their aggressive temperament makes them a danger to humans. Hippos kill more people every year than any other wild animal on earth. The can weigh over two tons and be up to 16 feet long. They live for 30 years and reach sexual maturity around age 6. Usually solitary animals, they will become territorial when mating or when females have offspring nearby

10) Nile Crocodile

The Nile crocodile can be found throughout sub-Saharan Africa. In fact, it’s one of three crocodile species that live in Africa. It’s also easily recognizable by its bumpy skin and narrow snout. These characteristics make it easier for prey to see and detect as they move through water, which is how they hunt most often. The largest specimen ever recorded was 4 meters (13 feet) long and weighed more than 1,000 pounds!

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