Beyond the Big Five

More wildlife checklists

More wildlife checklists

Everyone knows Africa’s Big Five – lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and Cape buffalo – but did you know there are some other cool wildlife checklists for you to, um, check? Meet the Big Seven, Little Five, Ugly Five, Shy Five and Impossible Five!

It always strikes us as a bit narrow-minded when people go to Africa with just five animals on their wildlife checklist.

We get it, the Big Five is iconic, but there are so many other incredible animals, both big and small, that will take your breath away on a game drive (not to mention all the extraordinary birds), so why stop at just five?

Without any further ado, here are some of the other “Fives” (and one Seven!) to keep a lookout for the next time you’re on safari in Africa:

The Little Five

1. Elephant shrew

2. Buffalo weaver

3. Leopard tortoise

4. Antlion

5. Rhino beetle

This list is testament to the fact that good things can definitely come in small packages. The creatures on this list aren’t necessarily rare, they’re just… small! (FYI the antlion is an insect, the elephant shrew is a mammal with a long nose and the buffalo weaver is a bird that often builds its nest in acacia trees).

The Big Seven

1. Lion

2. Leopard

3. Rhino

4. Elephant

5. Cape buffalo

6. Southern right whale

7. Great white shark

This list simply adds two more huge creatures to the “Big Five” list – the great white shark and the southern right whale. You could see both of these marine creatures in Namibia, but to see all seven, your best bet is definitely South Africa.

The Big Seven (on land)

1. Lion

2. Leopard

3. Rhino

4. Elephant

5. Cape buffalo

6. Cheetah

7. Wild dog

This list adds two of Africa’s top predators to the “Big Five” list – cheetah and Wild dog.  To see both of these spectacular animals, we recommend Tswalu in South Africa. Cheetah can also be spotted on the open plains of the Serengeti in Tanzania and Kenya’s Masai Mara plus a number of other reserves. Wild dog can be seen in Botswana and Zambia plus a few others. 

The Ugly Five

1. Warthog

2. Vulture

3. Wildebeest

4. Marabou stork

5. Hyena

While we object to the word “ugly” being applied to all of these amazing animals – especially the beloved warthog (Pumbaa!) – it’s cool that they have their own list. For too long have these entertaining and vitally important animals been ignored for more “attractive” species.

The Shy Five

1. Meerkat

2. Aardvark

3. Porcupine

4. Aardwolf

5. Bat-eared fox

Apart from the meerkat, all of the Shy Five are nocturnal animals, so seeing all of these elusive and lesser-known species will definitely be a challenge – getting a photo of them even more so!

The Impossible Five

1. Aardvark

2. Cape mountain leopard

3. Pangolin

4. Riverine rabbit

5. White lion

You’ll notice that the aardvark has made it onto this list as well as the Shy Five – so you can tick two boxes if you see one of these elusive animals. All five of these amazing creatures are incredibly rare and difficult to spot (hence the “Impossible” tag), so if you can tick off even one you’ll be doing brilliantly. And P.S, white lions in captivity don’t count!

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