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The iconic BIG FIVE

The iconic BIG FIVE – lion, elephant, buffalo, rhino and leopard – have long dominated the list of must-sees on an African safari.

It is, however, also important to acknowledge the smaller creatures, and in particular, five small animals called the ‘LITTLE FIVE.’ Certainly nowhere near as popular as the Big Five, or other terrestrial and marine mammals, they nonetheless have an important role to play in nature and an effort is being made to draw attention these ‘Little Five.’

The list comprises:

ant lionThe ant lion 

The ant lion is an odd member of the bushveld, but one you’re quite likely to recognise. These creatures dig conical depressions in dry, soft sand and use these as a trap to catch ants.

Ant lions sometimes develop wings and resemble dragonflies, although they are not particularly well-adapted for flight.

 Buffalo weaverThe buffalo weaver 

Red-billed buffalo weavers are known to be social birds that build their nests in the forked branches of tall trees. They nest in open, noisy colonies and their nests are easily recognised by their messy construction.

rhino beetleThe rhinoceros beetle 

One of the largest beetles in Africa, the rhino beetle has horns on its head that resemble a rhino’s. Both males and females are horned, but only the males are known to use their horns when fighting rivals. Other uses for the horns include digging, climbing and mating.

leopard totoiseThe leopard tortoise 

Getting its name from the colour of its shell, the leopard tortoise is one of the largest breeds of tortoise in southern Africa. A mature leopard tortoise can weigh over 23 kilograms, with a shell circumference of up to one metre. Leopard tortoises live in savannah and grassland areas and like to be close to water.

elephant shrewThe elephant shrew 

This tiny insectivore is named because of its long, trunk-like snout. These shrews are found in grasslands and rocky outcrops and only grow to a length of about 250mm, with an average weight of 60 grams. Due to their speed and size, the chance of spotting one of these in the wild is slim, so seeing one before you see an actual elephant is something to be proud of!






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