Why Are They Called the Big 5?

If you are visiting Nambiti Hills you might be lucky enough to see all of the Big 5.
Lion, leopard, buffalo, elephant and rhino.


There are only 11 countries in the world that have the Big 5, and all of them are in Africa.

But have you ever wondered why these specific animals are called the big five?

These animals were named the “Big 5” because they are not only among the most poached animals, but also the most difficult and dangerous to hunt on foot.

These five large African mammal species were known to be treacherous and it was considered a feat by trophy hunters to bring them home.

Today, however, the expression takes on a gentler form, referring to seeing the Big 5, as opposed to hunting them, during safaris on the African continent.

The word then spread about the Big 5, this name sticking in people’s minds and later becoming a great tourist attraction for foreigners.

Elephant and Game Viewer
A lot of people ask why these animals were chosen, as mentioned above they were extremely dangerous to pursue on foot and many hunters lost their lives while trying to get that prestigious trophy – primarily because they hunt back!

Let us know if you manage to see all of them on your next Open Vehicle Safari – and send us your pictures, if you wish to have them featured to marketing@nambitihills.com

The Nambiti Elephant Herd


On the Nambiti Hills Reserve, we have an incredibly special elephant herd – this herd consists of roughly 27 members, growing all the time.

The matriarch, Stumpie, is named after her short tail, while the dominant bull BFE (Big Friendly Elephant) is named after his size. Many Guests on the Reserve recognise him because of this, as well as his one slightly smaller tusk.

Although they have been growing over the past few years, nobody quite knows the story behind the broken tusk. If you understand elephant behaviour, this was most likely due to a serious fight with another bull elephant or dominance display of pushing over a tree in order to break such strong ivory.


In the wild, the life expectancy of an African elephant is roughly 60 years old. BFE is roughly that age now. As he has aged, we have noticed a difference in the way he interacts with the breeding herd.

Bull elephants will usually trail away for 2 to 3 weeks at a time, wandering wherever they please, returning to a breeding herd to mate or establish dominance.
In his old age, BFE has been spending most of his time with the females and calves.

This could be because he feels the need to protect them from the two younger bulls on the Reserve, or because he is too tired to trail away.

Either way, this new behaviour of his means that Game Drives are that much more special, with the unusual opportunity of Guests to see not only a breeding herd, filled with calves, but also the epitome of a dominant bull elephant in his ripe old age.

Nambiti Hills-520-IMG_9887

If you have any photos you’d like to share with us of BFE, Stumpie and the rest of the elephants on the Reserve, send them to us at marketing@nambitihills.com

Our male cubs: grown up

In March 2015, there was much excitement when two male lion cubs were born on the reserve. Born to a lioness relocated from Phinda Private Game Reserve, and one of the dominant Black Mane Lions from the Kalahari – we knew from their conception, that they would be ones to watch. From the day they were born, they have held a special place in the hearts of everyone on the Nambiti Reserve.

These lion cubs have made regular appearances throughout the years, always ensuring that our Game Drives are that much more exciting. It’s always such a pleasure to watch the dynamics of the lioness, while she interacts with her cubs – even showing annoyance with their boisterous antics, the same way human mothers can.

Although only three years and five months old, we can hardly call these lions “cubs” anymore. In fact, they are looking more like the dominant male brothers on the Reserve each day – ready to challenge them for dominance and territory any day now.

Here’s a look back on how they have grown.

Female Lioness reaction to cubs
[Pictured above] Born to their Phinda Lioness mother, she gives them a warning about their boisterous behaviour.

Black Mane Lions
[Pictured above] The Black Mane Lions that fathered our youngsters.

[Pictured above] Our young male lions as cubs.

[Pictured above] Growing up and causing mischief.

[Pictured above] Learning to play.

Baby Lion
[Pictured above] Manes are growing and they are looking more like their father each day.

Baby Lion 04
[Pictured above] Truly becoming young adults.

Young Male Lion
[Pictured above] Magnificent.


Celebrating our Wildlife: on World Animal Day and always!

Annually every 4th of October World Animal Day is celebrated. The message to everyone, on this day is simple, yet vital: to help make this world a sustainable and fertile place for all animals. Each and every one of us can make a difference! We at Nambiti Hills, urge you all to get involved and show your care and concern for the future of all animals.

At Nambiti Hills, we think every day should be about animal awareness. It’s no secret that the lives of animals, both domestic and wild, are hugely affected by our simple, and sometimes selfish human actions. Whether it be the development of towns and cities, agriculture and farming or even hunting; we need to be conscious of the fact that what we do can affect the helpless lives of others. Hence the reason for a day dedicated solely to the well-being of animals.

There are other days linked to animals, such as World Wildlife Day on the 3rd of March – but World Animal Day gives us an opportunity to embrace ALL animals and their unique concerns, in every corner of the world. So whether you’re hosting a rally or a fundraiser to create awareness or raise money, or simply paying extra attention to your pets; the 4th of October is the day to do it on. But then again, we should be doing that every day!

With 20 Elephants, over 300 Zebra, more than 1000 Wildebeest, 7 Leopard, over 800 Kudu and Eland and numerous birds and smaller animals… our wildlife are our daily priority, our pride and glory. Everything we do is with them in mind. Their health, their well-being, their peaceful existence on this beautiful landscape. It’s what makes our “jobs” so rewarding. And that we get to share it with like-minded guests on a daily basis… well, that’s first prize!

So in honour of World Animal Day, we will continue to do as we do every day; love, appreciate and respect not only the beautiful wildlife that graces our reserve but all the animals out there that have a special place in the world. We hope that you will do the same.

Here’s to all the animals, big and small!
Ranger Iris.







Photographer: Iris Thiriaux

Meet Ranger Iris – Our most passionate tourist yet!

Ranger Iris - Nambiti Hills

The young, foreign and passionate Iris Thiriaux talks to us about her love for the African bush, her strong family ties and what it is exactly that she loves about being a Ranger at Nambiti Hills.

What is one of your earliest bush memories?
It was a special time, back in 2011, one that I will always remember as the start of a lifelong love and passion for the outdoors. I was on the Zambezi River with my family, chugging along in one of those tiny boats, watching two elephant bulls fighting on the river bank. They were oblivious to our presence and we got to witness the wildness of Africa first hand.

What is one of your favourite things about working at Nambiti Hills Private Game Reserve?
All of us who work there are all so different; in our traits, our personalities, our work ethic… but that seems to work. I love being able to call myself a part of the Nambiti Hills family. But aside from that, I love everything about this place. I love getting to show guests wild animals for the first time and seeing the joy and wonder on their faces. I’ve even had guests shedding tears after seeing elephants for the first time! I love making people happy, and it’s easy to do that here. It’s moments like those, which remind me how special my life really is.

Tell us in detail what a typical day entails.
I’m an early bird. In every sense of the word. Regardless of summer or winter, I’m up at 4:30 every morning. Coffee, as you can imagine, is a must! The rest of the day is filled with adventures of wild life, meeting new and interesting guests, discovering new routes and making great memories. Sometimes, there is half an hour to catch up on my studies, nibble on a snack or get some rest before continuing with my day. But keeping myself busy with the things I love is what makes it all such a pleasure. The last game drive of the day lasts until about 7:00 at night, when the guests come back for dinner and we entertain with stories and wildlife tales around the campfire.

Which is your favourite wild animal?
Everyone who knows me, knows this answer; the Cheetah! I can’t control myself when I see it and most times people can’t understand a word I’m saying on the radio when I do spot one. Since as long as I can remember, I have felt inspired by this beautiful animal. Fragile, yet capable. Fast, yet graceful. Beautiful, yet dangerous. What’s not to love!

What makes gong on a game drive with you better than with anyone else?
I don’t believe that any of the Nambiti Hills Rangers are better than each other. We all bring something unique to the lodge and offer our guests a personal experience, the best way we know how. The thing that is unique about me, is that I have been on the other side; I’m a tourist at heart. Even the smallest of details don’t go unnoticed and appreciated.

Tell us more about your private life:
I have three siblings; 2 sisters and 1 brother. We are all very different but obviously love each other unconditionally. And our pet, Babou is very fat and old but he’s part of the family too. Family time is priceless and I’m so grateful for having such a supportive family structure. Coming from Belgium, home is very far away so I only get to go back about twice a year. And of course, my family much prefers coming over to South Africa to see me – it’s a great excuse for them to come to this beautiful country.

What do you do to relax, for fun or as a hobby?
I love to read and write, while listening to music. And there’s something really calming about just watching wildlife through my binoculars. It puts my mind at peace. I also love studying. I know it sounds odd, but I enjoy searching in old dusty books and researching new things. I just can’t seem to stop trying to upgrade my qualifications, and I won’t be satisfied until I do. Apart from wildlife, horse riding is my other passion. I first sat on a horse when I was 2 years old, and have never stopped since then. The thought of taking guests on wildlife safaris on horseback really excites me. Watch this space.