The Big Cat, Big Five and Iconic African Animals
Tanzania is a wildlife enthusiast’s paradise, with the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem alone boasting a diverse range of habitats, covering around 30,000 km² of Kenya and Tanzania. With such a vast area to explore, it’s no wonder that the region is home to a staggering array of wildlife. Visitors have the opportunity to spot some of the world’s most iconic wildlife species in their natural habitats, including the Big 5 and the African big cats.
The African big cats – cheetah, leopard, and lion – are remarkable predators, each with unique characteristics and behaviours that are worth experiencing first-hand. It is common to have coveted sightings of big cats while on Safari in East Africa. The Serengeti, Ngorongoro, Masai Mara, and Ruaha have some of the highest lion densities in the world, with Ruaha home to an incredible 10 percent of the world’s lion population. Most of East Africa offers a high likelihood of seeing lion, while Ruaha National Park and Tarangire National Park are great for the rarer leopard.
The term ‘Big 5’ was originally coined to refer to the five most dangerous species to hunt on foot: rhinoceros, elephant, buffalo, lion, and leopard. Though they are not hunted for sport anymore, the term still refers to these five species, which can be observed in various parks throughout East and Southern Africa. However, spotting all five species is a rare achievement, and East Africa is one of the few places in the world where safari-goers have a good chance of doing so. Lion, leopard, buffalo, and elephant are abundant and can be found in most areas where safari companies operate. Rhino are a bit harder to find, especially in Tanzania, where their numbers suffered due to poaching in the 1960s and ’70s.
Good areas to see the Big 5 include Ngorongoro, the Serengeti (north or around Moru Kopjes near Dunia), and the Masai Mara. If you’re particularly interested in spotting elephants, Tarangire National Park in Tanzania is the place to be. Kenya’s Ol Pejeta Conservancy, which is a rhino sanctuary, is perhaps your best option for spotting these rare animals. Regardless of where you go, the opportunity to witness these magnificent animals in their natural habitats is an experience that will stay with you forever
Apart from the big cats and Big 5, East Africa is also home to a wide variety of other fascinating animals that are worth seeing while on safari. Among these are giraffes and hippos, two of Africa’s most iconic animals. Giraffes are one of the most distinctive and recognizable animals in Africa. They are known for their long necks, which allow them to reach tall trees and leaves that other animals cannot. There are three species of giraffe found in East Africa: the Masai giraffe, the reticulated giraffe, and the Rothschild’s giraffe. Giraffes are gentle giants, and watching them gracefully move across the savannah is a truly unforgettable experience.
Hippos are another iconic animal of Africa, often associated with the country’s waterways. Hippos are semi-aquatic and spend most of their day submerged in rivers or lakes to keep cool. They are incredibly large and strong animals and are considered one of the most dangerous animals in Africa. Despite their reputation, hippos are fascinating to watch and often provide plenty of entertainment for safari-goers.
Smaller African cats are also found in Tanzania, such as the serval, caracal, and African wildcat. The serval is a medium-sized wild cat that is known for its long, slender legs and large ears. The caracal, also known as the desert lynx, is a medium-sized wild cat with distinctive tufted ears. The African wildcat is a small, shy cat that looks similar to a domestic cat. All three of these cats are fascinating to see in the wild, as they are elusive and usually difficult to spot. Finally, the African wild dog is a rare but fascinating animal that can be spotted in The Selous. Also known as the painted wolf or the African hunting dog, the African wild dog is a highly social and intelligent animal that lives in packs. They are known for their striking coats, which are covered in patches of black, brown, and white. Spotting African wild dogs in the wild is a real privilege, as they are endangered due to habitat loss and persecutionShare this tour