About Big Five hunting
The “Big Five” is an old African term from the “golden years” of the safari. It stands for five African animals that were considered the most desirable trophies, and at the same time the most dangerous animals to hunt: Elephant, Rhino, Buffalo, Lion and Leopard. Each of these species presents a unique challenge for a hunter. Elephant and buffalo hunts are usually conducted by tracking, and as often as not involve days and days of following the spoor until an opportunity to harvest a “tusker” or “dagga boy” presents itself. The most popular method of hunting free-ranging lions and leopards is over bait, where days after days may draw blank as the predators prefer other food sources, and once they visit the bait, the trophy estimation and the shot typically must be made under less than perfect lighting conditions. And you know well that you can’t afford crippling any of the Big Five. The elephant and the buffalo are hard to stop simply because of their mass. An additional challenge is that these are herd animals, and other herd members may join in the charge. The big cats are solitary (lion hunting regulations are drawn so as to prevent killing pride lions), but also highly skilled at killing things. The bottom line here is that a Big Five hunt is a complicated affair, that requires a highly competent PH and team, and usually takes a lot of time. These days, old-fashioned grand safaris where all the Big Five were taken during just one hunt are history. Hunting is strictly limited by a system of quotas and international agreements for trophy importation, in order to protect populations of these iconic species. The Rhino now exists only in a few protected areas, and hunting opportunities are limited to game farms in South Africa and Namibia (which made an invaluable contribution to the preservation of the species). Hunting for other members of the Big Five typically takes place in the wildest corners of Africa, with rules, prices and challenges varying greatly from country to country.
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