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Posted on: Monday, 9 December 2013

Know where to see the BIG FIVE – we list the top reserves

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The Big Five are not only  the most popular animals in Africa, they’re also among the most dangerous. Yet people fly into South Africa intent on sighting them. Not everyone manages to tick them off the list (the leopard in particular is rather elusive).

We give you the lowdown on exactly where to find the BIG FIVE…

 

Rhino

Rhino

South Africa is regarded as the stronghold of the near threatened southern white rhino, primarily in reserves like the Kruger and Hluhluwe-iMfolozi. D.b. Bicornis , one of three subspecies of the critically endangered black rhino, occurs only in Namibia and South Africa. The second, D.b. Michaeli, has one important free-ranging population in a private game reserve in South Africa. They may not be translocated elsewhere in the country. And South Africa is believed to be the stronghold of the third subspecies, D.b. Minor.

Good places to see rhino include those reserves that have successful breeding programmes. Note: a number of reserves do not advertise the fact that they have rhino because of the high levels of poaching.

In South Africa find black rhino in these reserves and parks:

In South Africa find white rhino in these reserves and parks:

  • Kruger National Park
  • Greater Kruger area (Mala Mala, Sabi, Sabi, Timbavati, Londolozi, Singita, Ngala, Makalali)
  • Hluhluwe-iMfolozi National Park
  • Phinda Reserve
  • Tala Game Reserve
  • Shamwari Private Game Reserve
  • Marakele National Park
  • Augrabies Falls National Park
  • Karoo National Park

 

Buffalo

Buffalo

Regarded as the most dangerous animal in the world (there is no animal more dangerous to man), the African buffalo, or Cape buffalo, is fond of woodland savannas, or bushveld. They live close to water and prefer tall coarse grasses and bush. Large herds of buffalo are found in the Kruger, but smaller groups are also accessible in Zululand and the Eastern Cape (East London’s nickname is Buffalo City, named after the herds of buffalo that once roamed there).

In South Africa find buffalo in these reserves and parks:

  • Kruger National Park – where large herds of buffalo roam
  • Timbavati, Klaserie and Balule nature reserves in the greater Kruger area
  • Hluhluwe-iMfolozi National Park
  • Pilanesberg National Park
  • Addo Elephant Park
  • Bontebok National Park
  • Shamwari Private Game Reserve
  • Tembe Elephant Park

 

Elephant

Elephant

The African elephant is listed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List. Found in 37 countries across sub-Saharan Africa they are extinct in Burundi, The Gambia, and Mauritania. Their numbers are becoming more and more fragmented across the continent more recently due to loss of habitat and human-elephant conflict, but also due to poaching for ivory –  the major cause, historically, for their decrease in numbers.

In South Africa, find elephants in these reserves and parks:

  • Addo Elephant National Park
  • Kruger National Park
  • the greater Kruger area – Sabi Sabi, Timbavati, Londolozi, Singita, Makalali
  • Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Game Reserve
  • Phinda Private Game Reserve
  • Shamwari Private Game Reserve
  • Marakele National Park
  • Tembe Elephant Park

 

Leopard

Leopard

Regarded as near threatened by the IUCN Red List, the leopard is found across sub-Saharan Africa and is native in many countries of the world. In Africa they have disappeared from at least 37 per cent of their historical range, particularly in an area known as the Sahel belt, Nigeria and South Africa.

Their greatest threat is intense hunting, and poisoning of carcasses for perceived threat to livestock, andchange in habitat due to development. However, they are particularly adaptable and can continue living close to humans provided they have access to prey and can find shelter.

In South Africa, find the leopard in these reserves and parks:

  • Kruger National Park
  • the greater Kruger area – Sabi Sand (Mala Mala), Timbavati, Londolozi
  • Pilanesburg National Park
  • Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Game Reserve
  • Phinda Private Game Reserve
  • Shamwari Private Game Reserve
  • Ngala Private Game Reserve
  • Kalahari Gemsbok National Park
  • Tsitsikamma National Park
  • Karoo National Park

 

Lion

Lion

The lion is listed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List. You will find them in many countries in sub-Saharan Africa but most of them are found in eastern and southern Africa (77 per cent). They live, however, in only 22 per cent of their historical range and are extinct in Gabon and many other countries where they originally occurred, like Algeria, Egypt, Iran, Israel, Lesotho and Tunisia.

The main threats to lion are a decrease in the numbers of their prey, and indiscriminate killing by man (to protect livestock or themselves). However there are many lions in those areas that are protected and well-managed. And because they are so sought after by visitors, their presence in a reserve or park generates revenue – an incentive for conservation.

In South Africa, find lion in these reserves and parks:

  • Kruger National Park  (over 2 000 by current estimations)
  • the greater Kruger area (Mala Mala, Sabi Sabi, Timbavati, Londolozi, Singita, Ngala, Makalali)
  • Pilanesberg National Park
  • Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Game Reserve
  • Phinda Private Game Reserve
  • Shamwari Private Game Reserve
  • Kalahari Gemsbok National Park
  • Tsitsikamma National Park
  • Karoo National Park

Planning to see the Big Five?

Wanda Coustas

About 

Wanda Coustas has written in one form or another for 10 years, seven of them as a copyblogger. She has travelled the Western Cape extensively and the rest of the country in protracted road trips that have given her both joy and an ongoing relish for experiencing what she writes about first-hand. She is a trained opera singer, poet, eurythmy dancer, philosopher, and bee whisperer.

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1 comment about Know where to see the BIG FIVE – we list the top reserves
  1. December 11th, 2013 at 21:35
    Divergent Travelers says:

    This is a really great article. It is overwhelming trying to search through all the reserves to visit and decide which ones are the best for your trip.