Of all of the game animals in Africa, none seem to capture the attention of the big game hunter like the “Big Five”. Africa's Big Five, the elephant, rhinoceros, Cape buffalo, lion, and leopard, account for some of the most exciting and interesting big game hunting in all of Southern Africa.
John Taylor, author of “Big Game and Big Game Rifles” and an Ivory Hunter in his own right, states clearly that when speaking of big game hunting on the African continent, we are speaking of hunting dangerous game. While many of the antelope species like kudu, wildebeest and eland can be quite large, none can turn the tables on the hunter so quickly and so completely as the members of the Big Five. The resulting rush of adrenalin is the very essence of that which brings so many hunters to Africa.
Except for the open plains of the Free State and much of East Africa, Africa's Big Five is hunted in semi-open scrub country. With the help of a competent Professional Hunter and a good stalk, most shots can be taken within 100 to 200 yards. The heavy, thick-skinned members of the Big Five are often taken at much closer ranges.
Most countries of Southern Africa specify the use of a rifle of at least .375 caliber or greater when hunting the Big Five. Except for the big cats, quality, controlled expansion bullets or solids are a must. For the soft-skinned cats, rapid expanding bullets are a better choice. In this regard, always trust the advice of your Professional Hunter. When deciding on the battery for your particular safari, consider the largest species you intend to take and plan accordingly. Make sure you are thoroughly familiar and comfortable with your weapon of choice. Keep in mind that in all cases, it is much more important where your shot is placed than with what you have made the shot. So while large caliber rifles with heavy for caliber bullets are the order of the day; don't overdo it!