The Big Five!

Mundia Mubita,

Well Zambia's wild life refers to its vegetation and wildlife, it is these elements that make Zambia, the real Africa. In the real Africa "Zambia", if you have not come across the big five then definitely you went to the wrong Zambia. The big five are the Lion, the Elephant, the Rhino, the Buffalo and of course the Leopard.


Lion are plentiful in the bigger National Parks but will often tend to stay in the remote parts for long periods at a time. They are the only cats moving in family groups and normally occupy a well defined territory.

In the southern part of South Luangwa the territories are quite small and the numbers in the groups quite large, some over twenty. Typically, two or more dominant males protect the territory against intruders. Several lionesses may produce cubs at one time and share the feeding.


The most secretive and elusive of the large carnivores, the leopard is also the shrewdest and is the strongest climber of the large cats and is capable of killing prey larger than itself. Dense bush in rocky surroundings and riverine forest are their favorite habitats, but leopards adapt to many places in both warm and cold climates. Their adaptability, in fact, has helped them survive the loss of habitat to increasing human settlement.


Black rhino are the rarer of the two rhino sub-species found in Africa, and particularly at risk of continent-wide extinction in the face of ever-growing demand for rhino horn and incidences of poaching across Southern Africa. North Luangwa Conservation Program (NLCP) has managed to reintroduce a population of 34 black rhino into the park, thanks to incredible dedication on the part of the staff and the strict vigilance of the anti-poaching unit deployed there.

For now though, Zambia’s rhino population remains constrained to North Luangwa, where there are no permanent tourism camps, no roads and no real tourism infrastructure to speak of in general.


An elephant’s social life is organized around a family unit, which consists of an adult female and her offspring, and two or more closely related females and their offspring. Bulls leave the family unit at puberty when they are about 16 years old and join bachelor groups or move about alone. Elephants are unfortunately very destructive feeders and often large trees are pushed over and only a few leaves eaten from the top. If too many are confined to a small area, massive damage and deforestation can and does indeed occur, especially in the Luangwa Valley.


These cattle-like ungulates have massive, low sweeping horns and move in small to very large herds, often over 400 strong, especially in the Kafue and South Luangwa National Parks. There are also smaller bachelor herds of four to five. Occasionally solitary ones known as ‘kakuli’ live completely alone and do not associate with the breeding herds.

The best game viewing time coincides with the dry season when water is scarce and animals congregate to waterholes and rivers.