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I bumped into a kid born in the mid first decade of this new millennium and asked her to name me Kenya’s Big Five. Her answers were just amazing and hilarious.  One was a Jumbo Jet, second was Mt.Kenya, Third Thika road… *head scratch* oops! Could not even complete her own big five list. I’d not blame her because; I also came to quote the big five confidently after I joined campus.
 Here are the ‘Big Five’:
  • Lion – Simba
  • Leopard – Chui
  • Elephant – Ndovu/Tembo
  • Buffalo – Mbogo
  • Rhino – Kifaru
The most famous predator in this category is the lion. The largest of the great cats in Africa, they spend a lot resting in the shade. When the pride goes off to look for food at dusk or dawn, it is mostly the female who does all the hunting. Sometimes, males drive the prey towards the concealed females who then do the actual killing. They live on the savannahs in prides of one to three males and up to 15 females. Young cubs enjoy a lot bugging their moms.
                                                            Lions basking

The leopard lives a solitary life except during the mating season. The beauty of the dark spots against the rich gold background belie the power these cats can muster if necessary, and it is indeed very hard to find them. Generally considered nocturnal, the best place to find them is in rocky hills, high in tree branches or in the thick woodland brushes. They drag their kill to the top of a tree where they can be assured that no scavenger will find. 

An elephant can live up to between 60 to 70 years and eats vast amounts of green material to survive daily. Elephants roam in close knit herds with the matriarch in charge. Younger and older bulls live alone, away from the herd. These large beasts flap their ears to cool themselves. When ear flapping is combined with snorting however, it’s usually a sign of agitation and a good time to put some distance between you and them. Elephants communicate with each other with a number of sounds and over long distances. They can quickly adapt from open plains to thick forests and are constantly on the move for food and shelter.

                                                          Elephants at a water point

The African buffalo has a bad temper reputation if disturbed. The huge ox-like creatures have some very heavy, dangerous horns and have no shame in using them to get rid of any kind of pest, humans included. They can easily be spotted near water and also in Savannah areas, like the Masai Mara. Large herds gather on open grasslands and smaller groups tend to congregate in thick forest. They are also known to chase Lions seeking to prey on their young ones and it is an incredible event to witness.

                                                                Buffalo grazing

There are two rhino species, the black and the white. Both species are extremely rare. Their habitats vary from dense forest to open scrub where they feed on the leaves of bushes and trees. They lack good eyesight but have excellent sense of smell and hearing. Their lifespan is 35 to 40 years and weigh up to 2 tons. Both the black and white rhino have two horns, of which, the longer sits at the front of the nose. The closest rhino relationship is between a female and her calf, lasting from 2 to 4 years.

For more pics and info on the ‘BIG FIVE’ and other ‘small many’ visit AWF
About Mwaniki Mutugi (367 Articles)
Noel Mutugi is a graduate of tourism management from Moi University, a tourism, travel & conservation enthusiast and a tour consultant at Kiboko Kenya Safaris (