No African Safari is complete without paying a visit to five impressive beasts the continent (Tracking the big five in Rwanda) is famous for: Buffalo, Elephant, Leopard, Lion and Rhinoceros. Known as the Big Five, these animals are sure to get your adrenaline rushing with their raw power and imposing presence.

In Rwanda, the Big Five game can all be seen at the Akagera National Park, the country’s “last remaining refuge for Savannah-adapted species”, making it a must-see destination for tourists. Our Rwanda Wildlife Tours are the perfect introduction to this amazing park.

A major draw on these tours are the Big Five- few animals hold as great a fascination for game lovers. Here are a few interesting facts about them; I bet you will find at least one thing that’s new.

African Buffalo

The African Buffalo is one of the most formidable bovines on earth. Their immense strength, aggression, tough constitution and ability to work in groups render them uniquely difficult to hunt, even for bigger predators like the lion.  They are also known to be sometimes aggressive towards humans.

Buffalos are social animals that love to live in herds ranging from 20 to 1000 individuals each, and organised according to complicated dominance hierarchies. At the head of each herd are the older females (called Cows), although there is rarely a single “leader”.

Akagera National Park in Rwanda currently has a buffalo population of more than 3000, and you are guaranteed to catch a glimpse of these imposing beasts during your tour.

Fun Fact: Buffalos ‘vote’ on when and where to move after a period of rest. However, only adult females take part in this ‘democratic’ activity.

Black Rhino

With only 5000 individuals left in the wild, Black Rhinos are one of the most endangered species in the world. These gigantic animals are a must-see on your Game tour to Rwanda.

Following a 10-year absence, rhinos made a return to Rwanda in 2017 after 18 Eastern black rhinoceros were resettled into the Akagera National Park. Once a thriving home for the species, the park had slowly lost all its rhino inhabitants to relentless poaching until by 2007 not a single one was left.

Over the years, conservation efforts have seen the park, which is a protected savannah habitat in Rwanda, undergo a remarkable transformation which has virtually stemmed poaching and allowed Akagera National Park to flourish.

In June 2019, the country’s Rhino population was further boosted by the relocation to Akagera NP of five black rhinos from the Czech Republic.

Fun Fact: Black Rhinos are not really black. The species probably derives its name as a distinction from the white rhino (which is not white at all either) or from the dark-coloured local soil that often covers its skin after wallowing in mud. (Source: https://www.iucn.org/content/rhinos)

Elephant

Elephants are the largest known land mammal. These fascinating giants live in matriarchal herds and are prolific herbivores; one elephant in the wild typically consumes 250-300 pounds of food per day. A male elephant can grow to four metres in height and weigh up to seven tonnes.

Rwanda’s Akagera National Park has an estimated elephant population of 100, making it ideal for tracking elephants in the wild. Gorilla Adventure tours has several options you can choose from if you want to see this remarkable creature. Check out our Rwanda Wildlife tours for the perfect package.

Fun Fact: Elephants are the world’s most intelligent mammals, aside from the great apes (humans, gorillas, chimpanzees, bonobos and orangutans).

Leopards

Belonging to the genus Panthera, the leopard is the most adaptable of the big cat family. The lithe, graceful yet deadly cat is as comfortably at home in the grassland savannah as in a desert or rainforest.

It is also the smallest of the Big Five; but don’t let its size fool you. Endowed with powerful shoulder muscles and an especially strong jaw, leopards can hunt and kill larger, heavier prey. They then often drag them up trees which are their preferred resting place.

Several leopards are to be seen in Akagera National Park, although, being elusive creatures they tend to go hunting at night.

Fun Fact: The spots on leopards are known as rosettes because they look so much like black roses. (Source: http://www.lions.org)

Lion

No Big Five African tour is complete without seeing the lion, a.k.a.  ‘The King of the Jungle’. A fierce predator with a terrifying roar, the lion often preys on small herbivores like zebras, but will sometimes have a go at the larger ones like buffalo. They very rarely attack humans, unless disturbed.

In 2015 seven lions were re-introduced into Akagera National Park several years after the majestic beasts had been wiped out. The seven were chosen, among other factors, “on future reproductive potential”. Today the country boasts a population of more than 22 lions… clearly they’ve been busy J

Fun Fact: Female lions are about 30% faster than the males and do most of the hunting within the pride.

There you have it: a sneak-peek into the fascinating Big Five. What other animals would you be interested in seeing on your Rwanda Wildlife Tour?