Big Five game

Big Five game

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The phrase Big Five game was coined by white hunters and refers to the five most difficult animals in Africa
Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

 to hunt on foot. The term is still used in most tourist and wildlife guides that discuss African wildlife safari
Safari
A safari is an overland journey, usually a trip by tourists to Africa. Traditionally, the term is used for a big-game hunt, but today the term often refers to a trip taken not for the purposes of hunting, but to observe and photograph animals and other wildlife.-Etymology:Entering the English...

s. The collection consists of the lion
Lion
The lion is one of the four big cats in the genus Panthera, and a member of the family Felidae. With some males exceeding 250 kg in weight, it is the second-largest living cat after the tiger...

, African elephant, cape buffalo
African Buffalo
The African buffalo, affalo, nyati, Mbogo or Cape buffalo is a large African bovine. It is not closely related to the slightly larger wild Asian water buffalo, but its ancestry remains unclear...

, leopard
Leopard
The leopard , Panthera pardus, is a member of the Felidae family and the smallest of the four "big cats" in the genus Panthera, the other three being the tiger, lion, and jaguar. The leopard was once distributed across eastern and southern Asia and Africa, from Siberia to South Africa, but its...

, and rhinoceros
Rhinoceros
Rhinoceros , also known as 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 members of the Big Five were chosen for the difficulty in hunting them and the degree of danger involved, rather than their size.

Overview


The big five are among the most dangerous, yet most popular species for big game hunters to hunt. Safari Club International
Safari Club International
Safari Club International is an international organization composed of hunters. SCI has more than 50,000 members and 180 local chapters. SCI's website displays the bannertext "Safari Club International is the Leader in Protecting the Freedom to Hunt and Promoting Wildlife Conservation...

, an organization dedicated to trophy hunters, offers a trophy for hunting all five species, called the "African Big Five Grand Slam," along with 14 other Grand Slams for other species, and a total of more than 40 different awards.

The 1990 and later releases of South African rand
South African rand
The rand is the currency of South Africa. It takes its name from the Witwatersrand , the ridge upon which Johannesburg is built and where most of South Africa's gold deposits were found. The rand has the symbol "R" and is subdivided into 100 cents, symbol "c"...

 banknote
Banknote
A banknote is a kind of negotiable instrument, a promissory note made by a bank payable to the bearer on demand, used as money, and in many jurisdictions is legal tender. In addition to coins, banknotes make up the cash or bearer forms of all modern fiat money...

s feature a different Big Five animal on each denomination.

Countries where all the members of the Big Five can be found include Namibia
Namibia
Namibia, officially the Republic of Namibia , is a country in southern Africa whose western border is the Atlantic Ocean. It shares land borders with Angola and Zambia to the north, Botswana to the east and South Africa to the south and east. It gained independence from South Africa on 21 March...

, South Africa
South Africa
The Republic of South Africa is a country in southern Africa. Located at the southern tip of Africa, it is divided into nine provinces, with of coastline on the Atlantic and Indian oceans...

, Kenya
Kenya
Kenya , officially known as the Republic of Kenya, is a country in East Africa that lies on the equator, with the Indian Ocean to its south-east...

, Tanzania
Tanzania
The United Republic of Tanzania is a country in East Africa bordered by Kenya and Uganda to the north, Rwanda, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west, and Zambia, Malawi, and Mozambique to the south. The country's eastern borders lie on the Indian Ocean.Tanzania is a state...

, Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe is a landlocked country located in the southern part of the African continent, between the Zambezi and Limpopo rivers. It is bordered by South Africa to the south, Botswana to the southwest, Zambia and a tip of Namibia to the northwest and Mozambique to the east. Zimbabwe has three...

, Botswana
Botswana
Botswana, officially the Republic of Botswana , is a landlocked country located in Southern Africa. The citizens are referred to as "Batswana" . Formerly the British protectorate of Bechuanaland, Botswana adopted its new name after becoming independent within the Commonwealth on 30 September 1966...

, and Democratic Republic of the Congo
Democratic Republic of the Congo
The Democratic Republic of the Congo is a state located in Central Africa. It is the second largest country in Africa by area and the eleventh largest in the world...

. According to recent studies, it is difficult to spot the rhinoceros in Botswana.

African elephant



The African elephant (Loxodonta africana) is a very large herbivore
Herbivore
Herbivores are organisms that are anatomically and physiologically adapted to eat plant-based foods. Herbivory is a form of consumption in which an organism principally eats autotrophs such as plants, algae and photosynthesizing bacteria. More generally, organisms that feed on autotrophs in...

 having thick, almost hairless skin, a long, flexible, prehensile trunk, upper incisor
Incisor
Incisors are the first kind of tooth in heterodont mammals. They are located in the premaxilla above and mandible below.-Function:...

s forming long curved tusks of ivory
Ivory
Ivory is a term for dentine, which constitutes the bulk of the teeth and tusks of animals, when used as a material for art or manufacturing. Ivory has been important since ancient times for making a range of items, from ivory carvings to false teeth, fans, dominoes, joint tubes, piano keys and...

, and large, fan-shaped ears. There are two distinct species of African elephant: African forest elephant
African Forest Elephant
The African Forest Elephant is a forest dwelling elephant of the Congo Basin. Formerly considered either a synonym or a subspecies of the African Savanna Elephant , a 2010 study established that the two are distinct species...

 (Loxodonta cyclotis) and the African bush elephant
African Bush Elephant
The African Bush Elephant or African Savanna Elephant is the larger of the two species of African elephant. Both it and the African Forest Elephant have usually been classified as a single species, known simply as the African Elephant...

 (Loxodonta africana). The elephants are difficult because despite their large size, they are able to hide in tall grass and are more likely to charge than the other species.

Black rhinoceros



The black rhinoceros
Black Rhinoceros
The Black Rhinoceros or Hook-lipped Rhinoceros , is a species of rhinoceros, native to the eastern and central areas of Africa including Kenya, Tanzania, Cameroon, South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, and Angola...

(Diceros bicornis) is a large, thick-skinned herbivore having one or two upright horns on the nasal bridge. Rhinoceros
Rhinoceros
Rhinoceros , also known as 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....

 may refer to either black or white rhinoceros
White Rhinoceros
The White Rhinoceros or Square-lipped rhinoceros is one of the five species of rhinoceros that still exist. It has a wide mouth used for grazing and is the most social of all rhino species...

. Among Big Five game hunters, the black rhinoceros is preferred.

Cape buffalo



The African
African Buffalo
The African buffalo, affalo, nyati, Mbogo or Cape buffalo is a large African bovine. It is not closely related to the slightly larger wild Asian water buffalo, but its ancestry remains unclear...

or cape buffalo (Syncerus caffer) is a large horned
Horn (anatomy)
A horn is a pointed projection of the skin on the head of various animals, consisting of a covering of horn surrounding a core of living bone. True horns are found mainly among the ruminant artiodactyls, in the families Antilocapridae and Bovidae...

 bovid
Bovid
A bovid is any of almost 140 species of cloven-hoofed ruminant mammal at least the males of which bear characteristic unbranching horns covered in a permanent sheath of keratin....

. Buffalo are sometimes reported to kill more people in Africa than any other animal, although the same claim is also made of hippos
Hippopotamus
The hippopotamus , or hippo, from the ancient Greek for "river horse" , is a large, mostly herbivorous mammal in sub-Saharan Africa, and one of only two extant species in the family Hippopotamidae After the elephant and rhinoceros, the hippopotamus is the third largest land mammal and the heaviest...

 and crocodile
Crocodile
A crocodile is any species belonging to the family Crocodylidae . The term can also be used more loosely to include all extant members of the order Crocodilia: i.e...

s. 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.

Lion



The lion
Lion
The lion is one of the four big cats in the genus Panthera, and a member of the family Felidae. With some males exceeding 250 kg in weight, it is the second-largest living cat after the tiger...

(Panthera leo) is a large carnivorous
Carnivore
A carnivore meaning 'meat eater' is an organism that derives its energy and nutrient requirements from a diet consisting mainly or exclusively of animal tissue, whether through predation or scavenging...

 feline
Felidae
Felidae is the biological family of the cats; a member of this family is called a felid. Felids are the strictest carnivores of the thirteen terrestrial families in the order Carnivora, although the three families of marine mammals comprising the superfamily pinnipedia are as carnivorous as the...

 of Africa and northwest India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

, 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.

Lion hunting is challenging because of the habitat and temperament of the lion. Lions habituate the savanna where tall grasses, shrubs and bushes obscure and provide them cover and camouflage. This thick undergrowth is commonly referred to as jess. As lions are ambush hunters, they use this natural cover to stalk close as possible before making a final charge to catch their prey. Lions do not generally avoid confrontation, but will usually face the challenger. Lions are unpredictable and may charge when sufficiently annoyed or confronted by danger. These factors together make lion hunting a challenge to hunters.

Lions are hunted by three methods: baiting, stalking and hounding. The hunting method is dependent on firstly the law, then the number of lions in a given area, terrain, the professional hunter or concession owner or the hunting outfitter, their expertise and the client.

Baiting involves the hunter lying in wait in a natural or constructed blind. Prior to the lion hunt, a prey species is hunted beforehand for use as bait. The bait is then secured to a tree or secure structure in an area which is known to be frequented by lions; usually this will be close to a watering hole. The bait is checked regularly until there are signs the carcass has been visited by a lion. Then a blind is constructed, usually 30 yard from the bait where the hunting party can remain concealed, usually from early evening until early morning the next day.

Stalking involves driving along trails in areas where lions are known to inhabit. Once fresh faeces
Spoor (animal)
Spoor is any sign of a creature. Spoor includes track, trail and droppings. Spoor is useful for discovering or surveying what types of animals live in an area, or in animal tracking.Generally droppings can be referred to as scat....

 are sighted, the hunting party (which includes trackers) dismounts. The trackers follow tracks and spoor signs while scanning for the lion. When the lion is spotted, the professional hunter and the client will stalk in close until they reach a good shooting position. Hunting lions by stalking is conducted in daylight hours when there is sufficient light to spot the lion, which would usually be resting. Night stalking using electric light sources is banned in most countries. Lions hunted with lights may not be listed as trophies by Safari Club International.

Hounding, the least used method today, uses dogs, and may include a fighting pack and a tracking pack. The hunting party will drive in known lion territory until fresh spoor is spotted, at which time the dogs are released. The pack follows the scent trail of the lion. Once the lion is encountered, the pack attempts to hold the lion at bay until the hunting party arrives to dispatch the lion. Like stalking, hounding is usually conducted during daylight hours. The lion will usually stand and fight rather than flee.

Many concessions in Africa have been known to release captive lions into enclosed areas
Canned hunt
A canned hunt is essentially a trophy hunt in which the animal is kept in a more confined area, such as in a fenced-in area, increasing the likelihood of the hunter obtaining a kill...

 where they may be hunted with or without the client's approval and/or knowledge. Sometimes the lion is drugged to slow it down, making it an easier target. Many hunters and hunting organizations consider this unethical and an affront to fair chase practices of the hunt.

The lion has thin skin and does not require the use of a big bore rifle. Furthermore, lions are evidently susceptible to hydrostatic shock
Hydrostatic shock
Hydrostatic shock or hydraulic shock describes the observation that a penetrating projectile can produce remote wounding and incapacitating effects in living targets through a hydraulic effect in their liquid-filled tissues, in addition to local effects in tissue caused by direct impact...

 when impact velocities are above 3000 ft/s (914.4 m/s). Lion require at a minimum a .300 Winchester Magnum
.300 Winchester Magnum
The .300 Winchester Magnum is a popular, belted, bottlenecked magnum rifle cartridge that was introduced by Winchester Repeating Arms Company in 1963 as a member of the family of Winchester Magnum cartridges. The .300 Winchester Magnum is a magnum cartridge designed to fit in a standard length...

. However, certain jurisdictions require a minimum a .375 H&H Magnum
.375 H&H Magnum
The .375 Holland & Holland Magnum is a powerful rifle round and one of the best-known and most popular medium-bore cartridges in the world. The .375 H&H was only the second cartridge ever to feature a belt, now common among magnum rounds. A popular misconception is that the belt is for headspace,...

 or a 9.3x62mm Mauser as a minimum caliber. A few professional hunters are known to carry 12-gauge semiautomatic shotguns loaded with buckshot as a back-up weapon when hunting lion.

Leopard



The leopard
Leopard
The leopard , Panthera pardus, is a member of the Felidae family and the smallest of the four "big cats" in the genus Panthera, the other three being the tiger, lion, and jaguar. The leopard was once distributed across eastern and southern Asia and Africa, from Siberia to South Africa, but its...

(Panthera pardus) 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 license
License
The verb license or grant licence means to give permission. The noun license or licence refers to that permission as well as to the document recording that permission.A license may be granted by a party to another party as an element of an agreement...

s for leopards.
The leopard is sometimes 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.

Leopard hunting uses the same methods as hunting for lions. Baiting, hounding and stalking are the most common methods used today to hunt the cat.

Baiting is the method most often used to hunt leopard. This requires the finding and then following of spoor in an area known to be frequented by a leopard. Once a suitable area is located, a prey species is hunted and used as bait. Because of the nocturnal nature of the cat, the blind needs to be constructed close to the bait, as shooting will more than likely be during the night. The client and the professional hunter will spend the night in the blind waiting for the leopard to come to the carcass.

Hounding with dogs to hunt leopard requires the hunting party to locate an area where a leopard has been recently active, as in the baiting method. Once such an area is located, the dogs (usually bloodhound
Bloodhound
The Bloodhound is a large breed of dog which, while originally bred to hunt deer and wild boar, was later bred specifically to track human beings. It is a scenthound, tracking by smell, as opposed to a sighthound, which tracks using vision. It is famed for its ability to discern human odors even...

s or ridgebacks
Rhodesian Ridgeback
The Rhodesian Ridgeback is a dog breed developed in Southern Africa, where it was used to hunt Lions. This is most likely why this dog is known for its bravery...

) are released. The dogs attempt to pick up the scent and follow it to the leopard. The leopard will usually flee from the loudly baying dogs and take refuge in a tree or in an area out of their reach. The dogs will hold the leopard at bay in this manner until the hunting part arrives to dispatch the leopard.

Stalking is rarely used to hunt leopard, as it is extremely time-consuming, tedious and has a very low success rate. A month-long hunt using the spot and stalk method may not be successful at even sighting a leopard.

The male leopard is less than half the size of a male lion. The leopard is the smallest of the big cats, and rarely exceeds 200 lb (90.7 kg).

There is a concerted effort to stop the hunting of the leopard due to the rarity of it and any subsequent big cat.

Conservation status


The lion and African bush elephant are classified as vulnerable
Vulnerable species
On 30 January 2010, the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species identified 9694 Vulnerable species, subspecies and varieties, stocks and sub-populations.-References:...

 (This does not include the Indian, Asian or African forest elephant.) The leopard and white rhinoceros are classified as near threatened
Near Threatened
Near Threatened is a conservation status assigned to species or lower taxa that may be considered threatened with extinction in the near future, although it does not currently qualify for the threatened status...

. The black rhinoceros is classified as critically endangered. and so is not available at all. The African buffalo is the most popular Big Five to hunt, as its conservation status is least concern
Least Concern
Least Concern is an IUCN category assigned to extant taxon or lower taxa which have been evaluated but do not qualify for any other category. As such they do not qualify as threatened, Near Threatened, or Conservation Dependent...

.

See also

  • Big game hunting
    Big game hunting
    Big game hunting is the hunting of large game. The term is historically associated with the hunting of Africa's Big Five game , and with tigers and rhinos on the Indian subcontinent. In North America, animals such as bears and bison were hunted...

  • Trophy hunting
    Trophy hunting
    Trophy hunting is the selective hunting of wild game animals. Although parts of the slain animal may be kept as a hunting trophy or memorial , the carcass itself is sometimes used as food....

  • Elephant gun
    Elephant gun
    An elephant gun is a large caliber gun, rifled or otherwise, so named because they were originally developed for use by big-game hunters for elephants and other large dangerous game. They used black powder at first but then started using smokeless powder...

  • Buffalo gun
  • Game reserve
    Game reserve
    A game reserve is an area of land set aside for maintenance of wildlife for tourism or hunting purposes. Many game reserves are located in Africa. Most are open to the public, and tourists commonly take sightseeing safaris or hunt wild game....

  • Lion hunting
    Lion hunting
    Lion hunting is the act of hunting lions.-History:-Ancient Egypt:Ancient Egyptian lion hunts were usually reserved for pharaohs. These hunts nearly resulted in the extermination of regional lion populations by 1100 BC...

  • Hippopotamus
    Hippopotamus
    The hippopotamus , or hippo, from the ancient Greek for "river horse" , is a large, mostly herbivorous mammal in sub-Saharan Africa, and one of only two extant species in the family Hippopotamidae After the elephant and rhinoceros, the hippopotamus is the third largest land mammal and the heaviest...

  • Crocodile
    Crocodile
    A crocodile is any species belonging to the family Crocodylidae . The term can also be used more loosely to include all extant members of the order Crocodilia: i.e...


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