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Stalking the Big Five

By Liz Clarke

Three days into our World Cup sojourn, and the score is nil-nil in my battle with Steve Goff to become first to spot all of South Africa's Big Five, in person.

The Big Five, of course, are the nation's most powerful animals--trickier to name than you might guess, though the country's currency (the rand) pays homage to each.

They are: The Rhinoceros (pictured on the 10-rand note), Elephant (20 rand), Lion (50), Buffalo (100) and Leopard (200, though so widely counterfeited it's rarely circulated).

Goff and I had planned to contest our Big-Five match at Kruger National Park, the famed nature preserve that's a five-hour drive from our home-base in Johannesburg. But with the U.S. soccer team our principal reason for being here, it's clear we have no shot at visiting the park.

So I've proposed a new game, with the spoils awarded to the first to spot all of the World Cup's Big Five, in person. They are: Lionel Messi (Argentina), Didier Drogba (Ivory Coast), Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal), Wayne Rooney (England) and Kaka (Brazil).

And the tiebreak: Bono.

Any quibbles with my list?

By Liz Clarke  |  June 4, 2010; 3:25 AM ET
Categories:  2010 World Cup , Africa , South Africa  | Tags: Cristiano Ronaldo, Didier Drogba, Kak, Kruger National Park, Lionel Messi, Wayne Rooney, World Cup  
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I think you're right on, Liz.

Love the Soccer Insider "inside" coverage of the World Cup!!! Keep it up!!!!!

Posted by: Smitty68 | June 3, 2010 4:45 PM | Report abuse

You're not suposed to spot them Liz, you're supposed to shoot them. However, Ronaldo falls down as if he's been shot.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | June 3, 2010 4:45 PM | Report abuse

go visit Zambia. You'll see the big 5 before lunch at South Luangwa park. By the way, the big 5 usually includes leopard instead of cheetah, but it isn't like there is some international commission to rule on such things.

Posted by: troy6 | June 3, 2010 4:45 PM | Report abuse

Forget the "big five" players - I say try to get exclusive, private interviews with the North Korean players. Should be easy, right? :-)

Posted by: Miles_Standish_Proud | June 3, 2010 4:46 PM | Report abuse

tie breaker could be a smiling Michael Bradley

Posted by: teo_68 | June 3, 2010 4:50 PM | Report abuse

No spaniards on the list? Xavi? Or how bout French, Ribbery?

I think this year it's easier to make a list of the big 3: Messi, Roony, Ronaldo. If you open it up to five, it starts getting dicey.

Posted by: Matte | June 3, 2010 4:55 PM | Report abuse

Mandela, Tutu, Piennar, and bonus points for Charlize Theron

Posted by: delantero | June 3, 2010 5:06 PM | Report abuse

I'd knock Rooney off your list and add a Spaniard...not sure which one to pick though.

Posted by: fedssocr | June 3, 2010 5:15 PM | Report abuse

Are you sure Goff is not looking for a Five Guys?

Posted by: OWNTF | June 3, 2010 5:16 PM | Report abuse

Are you sure Goff is not looking for a Five Guys?

Posted by: OWNTF | June 3, 2010 5:16 PM

+1 (LOL)

Posted by: Gooner | June 3, 2010 5:33 PM | Report abuse

How bout Homer Simpson? Has he been banned from South Africa?

Posted by: 9Nine9 | June 3, 2010 5:37 PM | Report abuse

How do you prove you saw them? Did your WaPo overlords issue you Flip video cameras?

Posted by: Juan-John1 | June 3, 2010 5:50 PM | Report abuse

Steve and Liz will ear tag Los Cinco.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | June 3, 2010 5:56 PM | Report abuse

OT: If the White House hires Romanoff, will it be for a Czar position?

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | June 3, 2010 5:59 PM | Report abuse

Bono ought to make for a tricky tiebreaker. Didn't he just have back surgery?

Posted by: Kenobi | June 3, 2010 6:00 PM | Report abuse

Ya, nix Bono, sub in Drew Carey. He may not be "Big" but he's large.

Posted by: OWNTF | June 3, 2010 6:09 PM | Report abuse

Is it a quibble to posit that the leopard rather than the cheetah is one of the Big 5?

Posted by: BillUrban | June 3, 2010 6:49 PM | Report abuse

what about the first to eat the big five: springbok, gemsbok, kudu, boerwors and pap.

or drink the big five:
windhoek, castle, lion, chibuku and amarula.

Posted by: PindarPushkin | June 3, 2010 7:18 PM | Report abuse

A little off topic, but I'd be willing to bet the Celtics are the biggest team in terms of eastern European popularity. They play such a hack and chop ugly form of the game.

Posted by: JacobfromAtlanta-ish | June 3, 2010 9:42 PM | Report abuse

Hmmm. And the Lakers popular in Spain and Portugal since they flop and whine all over the place? With fans who feel they are anointed?

Go Celts.

Posted by: OWNTF | June 3, 2010 9:51 PM | Report abuse

Liz, I like your list. And when you win, make Goff buy you a very expensive glass of wine. Or a diamond. I hear they're popular over there.

Oh, sorry Wife of Insider. Got carried away there.

Posted by: Rand-al-Thor | June 3, 2010 10:08 PM | Report abuse

Isn't Sonny Bono dead?
Good luck with that one.

Posted by: marksman37 | June 3, 2010 10:12 PM | Report abuse

You can visit Pilanesberg National Park in a day trip from Jo'berg (or do a single overnight if you can still get reservations there). Indeed, the folks with whom we are staying in Pretoria tell me that there is a park within walking distance of their home where some of the big five -- the four-legged kind -- can be found

Posted by: DCUSince96 | June 3, 2010 10:24 PM | Report abuse

Nobody flops and whines worse than Paul Pierce.

An Englishman is a person who does things because they have been done before. An American is a person who does things because they haven't been done before.
- Mark Twain

Posted by: JacobfromAtlanta-ish | June 3, 2010 10:42 PM | Report abuse

I just spotted the RHYMEnocerous:

Posted by: stancollins | June 3, 2010 10:43 PM | Report abuse

He was in New Zealand, of all places.

Posted by: stancollins | June 3, 2010 10:43 PM | Report abuse

You can visit Pilanesberg National Park in a day trip from Jo'berg Posted by: DCUSince96

Yeah, and I for one am going to be pissed at anyone who goes and just watches soccer. I mean, it's Safariville. There's enough close to Jo'burg!

In fact, take a weekend trip to Zanzibarhttp: // . Order the meal on the beach in the am, play/lounge all day, watch the fisherman go get your dinner, eat!

Posted by: delantero | June 3, 2010 10:57 PM | Report abuse

Mandela, Tutu, Zuma, Theron, Mugabe

Posted by: diego_r | June 4, 2010 12:37 AM | Report abuse

Hey Liz, what is the over/under on how many days will elapse before FIFA bans the vuvuzelas? Those are so annoying! I predict three days into the World Cup FIFA is going to cave into pressure and ban them.

Posted by: DaveBrett | June 4, 2010 1:50 AM | Report abuse

Bonus points for finding the Hiphopoppatamus.

Posted by: JacobfromAtlanta-ish | June 4, 2010 7:20 AM | Report abuse

A hiphopoPOTomous is somebody who sells weed usually tossing the bags, with great accuracy, like those hip peanut salesmen at baseball games.

Ummmm peanuts and pot!!!

Posted by: 9Nine9 | June 4, 2010 7:57 AM | Report abuse

i think the vuvuzellas need to stay. course ... i'm watching from my couch, stateside. if i had a horn section behind me for 90 minutes i might change me tune.

Posted by: Matte | June 4, 2010 9:43 AM | Report abuse

They don't call it weed in Joburg or the rest of SA, they call it "dagga" (pronounced dakka). Don't ask how I know that.

Posted by: bourassa1 | June 4, 2010 2:41 PM | Report abuse

Wesley Sniejder and Fernando Torres are bigger stars than Drogba and Kaka.

Posted by: vjohn72 | June 5, 2010 11:01 AM | Report abuse

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