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

the reason buffalo are in the big 5

Buffalo Herd - Hippo Dam - Nambiti
Is the African buffalo a dangerous animal? The reason early trophy hunters included the African buffalo as one of the Big 5 is that they were considered to be one of the most dangerous species to hunt.

In general, Buffalo in herds are placid, although some of the old bulls in the herds tend to be easily angered and prone to charge when disturbed. Large herds are usually very relaxed and unlikely to attack.

If you’ve ever been on a Game Drive with Ranger Joe, you will know this all too well…

Tracker Joe

Joe joined us as a Tracker, and his roots in tracking are deep.

His Game Drives are usually filled with action and he likes to get as close as possible to these big beasts.
Joe’s incredible ability to read animal behaviour becomes apparent in situations like this.

You’ll often find yourself right in the middle of a Buffalo herd with Joe – this is when he will ask all those seated to remain still as the Dominant bull approaches, knowing that this bull in particular has a temper.

Buffalo Safari

Occasionally a full-scale fight occurs, where combatants will charge each other with their heads up, and at the last moment, lower their heads for a bone-crunching crash.

The weaker bull will be pushed sideways and immediately breaks and runs to avoid a horn in the flank.

Did you know that when two 800kg African buffalo bulls charge towards each other head-on, the impact is equivalent to a car hitting a wall at 50km/h?

Watch out for these incredible beasts on your next Game Drive.

If you have any buffalo images or stories you’d like to share, send them to marketing@nambitihills.com


At Nambiti Hills, we have had an eventful year. We have seen many new faces, who’ve arrived as Guests, and have left as family.

We have had tremendous rains, seeing our river banks burst; as well as a fire, which saw the entire community on the Reserve come together in an effort to protect it.

There was snow on the Drakensberg Mountains in November, which made for unusually icy Game Drives in the summertime.

Baby Lion

Our two male lion cubs have grown into adolescents, their manes coming into fruition – the battle for supremacy against their dominant black mane fathers, approaching any day now. We lost a lioness close to our hearts, Tswalu, and felt a deep sense of grief especially because she had birthed new lion cubs.

Houdini, the only remaining cheetah of 12 on the Reserve, has survived another year. This calculated cat evading attack by larger lions and leopards.

Cheetah South Africa

BFE the elephant has maintained his dominant bull status, despite his age of 61 years.
At the lodge, our new pool deck has seen many a cocktail shared, in the warm glow of African afternoons, while our Restaurant has been a place of indulgence, with the addition of incredibly enthusiastic new Chefs.

We have seen many heart-warming proposals, romantic escapes, and breath-taking weddings which all of our staff have had great pleasure being a part of.

Nambiti Hills Celebration

We’ve seen birthdays, anniversaries and countless celebrations – but what we would really like to celebrate, as our year comes to a close … is you.

Thank you for being a part of our journey this year.


Young Impala
It’s a special time on the Reserve that all the Guides look forward to.

Those who have become accustomed to the slight seasonal changes in our ecosystem know that November 15th is a significant date.

If you’re on Safari at Nambiti Hills, you’ll notice that the rains have brought with them, new lush greenery. With the abundance of food readily available, now is the time that you will see hundreds of nurseries with young, suckling herbivores.

Rainy Season

As they are preyed upon by many predators on the Reserve, herbivores tend to give birth at the same time, to ensure a higher survival rate for individual babies.

Wildebeest, warthog, impala and the like, are clouding up the air with the smell of new-borns.
This is no coincidence. In fact, this is just one of many ways impala ensure their survival.

With an estimated number of over 2 million impala in Africa, they are one of the most successfully bred animals in the African wild.

The rut (breeding season) begins in May, over 3 to 4 weeks, usually taking place between two full moons.

In the Southern Hemisphere, this is toward the end of autumn, and most importantly, the end of the rainy season which provides lots of nutrition for expectant mothers.
After a gestation period of 6 to 7 months, the majority of females in the herd will begin to give birth within quick succession of one another.

baby impala

Birthing usually happens at midday, in broad daylight, to protect the female from predators at night.

Once labour pains begin, a female will isolate herself from the herd in a shaded thicket, as she is vulnerable, and does not wish to threaten the safety of the other antelope.

The timing of the birth also takes place during predator’s least active time of hunting.
Straight after, the female impala will lick her calf, cleaning off the “birthed” smell to make sure it will not draw the attention of lion or other nearby threats.

The birthing of such high volumes of calves within such a short period of time, ensures that at least half of the calves born will survive.

Being a highly favoured prey, the mother and calf bond is not strong within impala – parting happens all too often – and after a suckling season of about 6 months, female calves remain behind in the nurseries, while males will move on to join bachelor herds, and the process starts again.

Impala at Nambiti Hills