The Big 5: Lion

When you start researching your African Safari, the term “Big 5” often comes up. The term Big 5 was coined by big-game hunters and quickly became known as the most dangerous animals to hunt on foot, and the name stuck – although now ‘shooting’ is done through a camera lens. So the Big 5 are not called the Big 5 because of their size! The Big 5 are five of Africa’s greatest wild animals – lion, leopard, elephant, Cape buffalo and rhino.


As during the bygone hunting era the term “Big Five” still conjures up the romance and excitement of Africa’s exotic destinations and experiences. Images will begin playing in your mind: lions roaring; elephants trumpeting; buffaloes lurking in long grass; rhinos standing stately under a thorn tree; leopards prowling in the gathering darkness.

Many travellers regard a visit to Africa as incomplete without having spotted, and perhaps photographed, the Big Five – legends of the wilderness which have become synonymous with Africa. According to Wikipedia, Countries where all the members of the big five can be found include Botswana, Zambia, Uganda, Namibia, Ethiopia, South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Malawi.

Richard has compiled a list of facts about each of the Big 5 that he personally found fascinating whilst on safari in Africa.   In this post Richard shares his favorite fast facts about the lion, which is arguably the most sought-after of the Big Five because it is synonymous with an African safari. Charismatic, powerful and beautiful, everybody wants to see the appropriately named ‘King of the Beasts’.

  • African lions are the most social of all cats. They live in family units called prides while most other cats in the wild are solitary unless the female is raising her cubs.
  •  A lion’s roar can be heard as far away as 5 miles.
  • A male lion weighs up to 500 pounds, can reach a speed of 50 mph and can leap up to 35 feet.
  • A lion’s heels do not touch the ground when walking.
  • The darker a male lion’s mane the older it is.
  • Females do in fact do about 90% of the hunting and the male eats first.
  • Male lions will leave the pride as adolescents and may travel with a few other males before making an attempt to take over a pride.
  • Lionesses are caring mothers and will take over raising an orphaned cub. 2 lionesses in a pride will often give birth at the same time and raise all the cubs together.
  • Lions can see 6x better than humans at night.
  • Wild male lions will live up to 12 years and females up to 15 years.

Richard has more than 12 years of personal travel in Africa, in addition to guiding and planning trips and itineraries for his clients. He has seen and experienced most of Southern and East Africa and is continuously staying up to date and researching the latest news, lodges, accommodation and travel logistics. If you need advice or a chat….. just ASK RICHARD!

Look at this awesome video clip of  the tense moment when a father king lion meets his baby cubs for the first time and the mother lioness prepares to strike.
Africa… In Your Wildest Dreams!

Southern Sky Adventures
Specializing in guided and self-drive trips through Southern and East Africa & the Indian Ocean Islands
721 Woodward Way, NW, Atlanta, GA 30327 USA
404.300.9630 office – 770.324.0068 cell
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All images ©Richard Pace -taken personally in Africa on safari