The Big Five Games in Uganda


Uganda to be called the Pearl of Africa, was an appreciation of the naturally gifted country. Among the great splendours of Uganda are the Big Five Games (Lion, Leopard, Buffalo, Elephant and Rhino). Uganda has 10 National Parks, major tourist destinations and homes to the Big Five Mammals.

Some of these memorable encounters are from the five unique savannah parks. Though the Big Five count was less, the introduction of Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary made it complete with the re-introduction of the White rhinos. Uganda safaris are mainly about finding the Big Five Games. This is the most common safari trend in Uganda. The region’s best adventure spots are the beautiful nature, majestic landscape, and vegetation that accommodates various wildlife species.

Why are they called the Big Five animals?

Big Five Games was started earlier by the ancient wealthy European hunters (trophy hunters). The hunters would travel to Africa for wild hunting activities but needed help hunting these animals. The animals included the elephants, leopards, lions, buffalos and rhinos.

Interestingly, the Big Five are not called so because of their size. They used to attack the armed trophy hunters because of their aggressiveness. Also, these mammals’ ability to camouflage made it difficult to hunt them down.

Today, the big five mammals’ hunting continues, this time not by trophy hunters but with lenses, shoots and views.  This mainly happens in the comfort of a 4×4 safari vehicle. Today, the Big Five is on the travel list for travellers opting for a safari to Uganda. Also, the big five mammals are appreciated for their significant impact on the ecosystem.

Where to find the Big Five Games in Uganda?

On a safari to any of the savannah parks of Uganda, expect to encounter some of the Big Five Games. Is there a National Park in Uganda with a complete Big Five list? Well, some parks have a maximum of 4 mammals out of five. However, on your way to Murchison Falls National Park, you may stop by the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary for rhino tracking.

Besides Murchison Falls National Park, other parks offer a Big Five experience. These include; Queen Elizabeth National Park, Kidepo Valley National Park, Lake Mburo National Park and Semuliki National Park.

A complete Big Five safari in Uganda should include Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary. This is the only destination to find rhinos in their natural environment. Rhinos had become extinct due to encroachments and poaching. In 2005, however, the story about rhinos in Uganda was rewritten.

The Big Five Game

African Lions (Panthera Leo)

The African Lion
The African Lion

The lion is also known as the King of the Jungle, the bravest among the wild mammals and considered the most dangerous. Lions live in a group called pride. They are very social animals that live in groups of about 30. Lions live in savannahs, grasslands, scrub, and open woodlands, mainly in sub-Saharan Africa. The availability of food and water determines the number of lions in the pride. In Uganda, one can see lions in the savannah parks of Kidepo Valley National Park, Murchison Falls National Park, Lake Mburo and Queen Elizabeth National Park.

Additionally, you can get the best lion experience in Uganda at Queen Elizabeth National Park. This is where you find lions lying on tree branches (tree-climbing lions). Adventures like tree climbing, lion tracking and experiential lion/leopard tracking are customised for only Queen Elizabeth National Park. Lions are one of the exciting encounters on an adventure in Uganda, especially on a game drive in any of the savannah parks. However, finding the lions is only sometimes a guarantee.

African Elephants (Loxodonta Africana)

African Elephant
African Elephant

These largest wild mammals live in both tropics and savannahs. The elephants in Uganda are mainly called the African/ Savannah elephants, which inhabit the savannahs. Elephants have a life span of 50 to 70 years, but some can grow to up to 80 years. In Uganda, there are two types of elephants. These include wild forest elephants and savannah elephants. About 5,000 elephants are living in Uganda’s wild today. The forest elephants are very aggressive. We usually find them in tropical forests like Bwindi, Mgahinga, Kibale, and Budongo. The landscape savannahs of Queen Elizabeth National Park, Murchison Falls National Park, Kidepo Valley National Park and Semuliki National Park accommodate Uganda’s highest concentration of elephants.

Leopard (Panthera Pardus)


The secretive, solitary, elusive leopards are Uganda’s second-largest carnivore species. Leopards are among the most challenging animals, among the big five, to track on a drive into the savannahs. Leopards spend most of their daytime in caves, scrubs and tree branches. They are only active during night hours with a clear vision for hunting at night. Leopards are the second largest carnivores in the wild. Lake Mburo National Park is one of the best areas to spot leopards. Particularly best leopard spots are during the night game drives at L. Mburo, Queen Elizabeth, Murchison Falls, and Kidepo Valley National Parks.


Also known as Rhinoceros, these large mammals have massive bodies, stumpy legs, poor sight, short-horned snouts and sharp sense of smell and hearing. There was a period when rhinos became extinct in Uganda due to poaching. After about 20 years, in 2005, rhinos were re-introduced into the country. Rhino Fund Uganda implemented a rhino initiative where five rhinos were taken to the private ranch of Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary. Today, there are over 25 rhinos that are under monitoring at the sanctuary. There are plans by UWA to reintroduce rhinos back to national parks, first Murchison Falls National Park and Kidepo Valley National Park.

The African Cape Buffalos

African Buffalo
African Buffalo

Buffalos are widespread species contributing the highest number of animals in Uganda’s National Parks. The African buffalos are famous for being fierce or dangerous, especially wounded or solitary. These mammals are giant, even-toed ungulates characterised by their stocky build and heavy horns. Tourists can see buffaloes in almost all national parks and game reserves.


Book your Big Five safari adventure with Early Trails Expedition today and get a pure feel of Uganda’s beauty and splendor. For any information or requests, kindly contact us. Our team can attend to you and fulfil your safari dreams!


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