About the Author

Dan Hirschowitz


Dan developed his love for the African bush whilst growing up on a family run farm in the Kwa-Zulu Natal midlands. Growing up in the bushveld he was surrounded by wildlife and finds his passion in what nature has to offer. After completing ...

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on Safari Icons: The Big Five

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Senior Digital Ranger

Is the tsalala female still ok, I hope she is

Dan, thanks for sharing the story of the big 5 and the origin of the name. The 5 animals named are truly the ambassadors of Africa.

Thank you for a wonderful write up! First, I will never be able to come to Africa, but it’s one of my desires. Yes, I like the big 5 but I would want to see that dung beetle and all the birds! I want to hear those birds, not through the computer but up close and personal. You brought tears to my eyes, just feeling your words. Thank you!

I am fortunate enough to have been very close to each of the Big Five, but the closest I got was with elephants and rhinos. The elephants were just an amazing experience going into the bush with 30 of the orphaned elephants of the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust to photograph them for the foster parents in The Netherlands. The encounter with the rhinos was not very relaxed. I was photographing them at a waterhole close to my cottage. The people at the lodge had told us we could take a walk because there were no predators on the property (later during a walk we did see tracks of a leopard and of a hyena though) I was sitting on the bank of the waterhole when suddenly the rhinos (three of them) approached me and I had nowhere to go. So I just tried to keep calm and not move. They came very close to me: one of the rhinos touched my leg with its horn and appeared to be nervous. They stayed that close to me for about 20 minutes, which seemed like hours. After that they went away. I stayed until they were out of sight. When I tried to get up, my knees collapsed. At the time I was quite scared, not knowing if I would survive, but when I look back at it through the photographs somebody on the other side of the waterhole took, the experience was frightning, but also amazing. I wouldn’t recommend copying the experience though.

I had never heard the phrase big five until the first time we visited Londolozi. We did see the.big five , but also a baby zebra just born and the young rhino who frolicked with his mother. Best of all we began to identify the wonderful birds there! There is so much we have yet to see and learn. We have visited 6 times and each visit we see old favorites and meet new ones! The African bush is full of wonderful discoveries! Victoria

Nice tribute to “the big five” along with some beautiful photographs!

A wonderful article on the Big 5 and how they create the background to more knowledge about the wild animals of Africa. There are so many beautiful and wonderful animals on the African continent, but to view the big 5 is still a most wondrous thing. Only on my third safari did I first see a leopard and only later a really wild rhino (I saw some on farms in Namibia first). The whole world should try to protect these wonderful animals

Master Tracker

I never thought of buffalo as anything other than cows with horns until one day….
We met Mr Grumpy
Super article

Very true Dan! The Big Five, plus Giraffes are the most well known African elephants, forgetting about a snake or two. For me, it really is when you land in the bush and hear its sounds, that it really hits you. Which is why the Sunday video is so precious to me, the sounds of the bush…………
But, also the little 5, the sweet 5, the funny 5 etc. are worth looking at and talking about!! It would be great if you could talk about those as well…..

elephants should be animals, sorry…………..

I love the way you have put the Big Five into perspective Dan. Lovely post and photos.

Hi Dan, thanks for your story on the big five. All five animals are magnificent in their own right. Leopard’s are my favorite cat and actually I love all animals. Not forgetting the fish eagle’s call that just is incredible to hear. I agree with James Tyrrell that Africa is more than the big five. How we miss you James Tyrrell.

I have been following you for a long time and certainly enjoy the daily blogs and photos. I’m a big fan of the Tsalala female. How is she doing and is she still alone?

Hi Dan, I actually feel the utmost respect for buffalo. I can’t believe they are not seldom described as stupid animals! The way they “mock” hunters and manage to attack and kill them, as well as their own enemies , show a calculated intelligence that impresses me more than iconic African animals. As an example there is the Joubert’s documentary “The Last Lions”. Incredible animals indeed. I love all big five though, leopards deserve to be Londolozi ‘s symbol and the Tsalala is a last lion in herself. Great memories of the Majingilane, if I don’t get wrong they were five in the beginning, one killed by Mapogo. Yes, elephants and rhinos are very relaxing and rhino calves are so funny!

Well done Dan … your last two paragraphs say it all. The Big Five are simply the “tip of the iceberg “!

Good job, Dan. Incredibly, we were fortunate to witness the Big 5 on our very first day on safari–our poor guide–what other experiences could he produce? Fortunately, that early experience opened our eyes to other opportunities to witness, helping us understand the wonder of nature and making us recognize the insignificance of our own existence.

Well I believe that James Tyrrell has expressed my thoughts perfectly. Whilst seeing the Big Five is really exciting during a trip to the African bush/plains, it is “being in the moment “ that gives one the true safari experience.

Excellent Piece…


Dan what a super blog and most certainly a reminder to us all as to how far we have come from hunting with a gun to now hunting with a camera. There is certainly no place like Africa and yes the Big 5 are always on everyone’s list to see but I have to say from my point of view, it encompasses far more. The light, the smell and every wild creature, big or small that enjoy this unique space on our earth. That is my Africa and one I miss dreadfully. Till I am truely there I will continue to enjoy the Londolozi virtual drives and blogs 🙏🏻💗

Great but if history regarding the big 5, and so grateful for the blogs and virtual safaris that bring them close each week!

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