Many people come to Africa to witness the infamous “Big 5” but what about the “Little 5”? We all know that the “Big5” are the Buffalo, Elephant, Rhino, Lion and Leopard. But then what are the “Little 5”?
The Elephant Shrew:
This is a small, mouse-like creature with a long nose resembling the trunk of an elephant. Just as elephants use their trunks to sniff out food, elephant shrews use their noses to sniff out insects. Again, similar to elephants, the shrews use their ‘trunk’ to put their food in their mouths.
The Buffalo Weaver:
We often see big, messy nests in trees or high up in the power lines and often get asked if they are eagle nests. On the contrary, they are buffalo weaver nests – even though they are small birds, they form these big communal nests with numerous entrances. They are very social and will bring food such as insects, fruits or seeds to the nests.
The Rhino Beetle:
This beetle is quite a big beetle with rhino-like armour on its body. Unlike rhinos, where both male and female have horns, the rhino beetle males are the only ones with the rhino-like horn. They will use their horns to fight and to dig out food. Rhino beetles are believed to be the strongest animal in the world in relation to their size.
The Leopard Tortoise:
The appearance of their shell is similar to the coat of a leopard; golden with black rosette-like spots. The leopard tortoise can live up to about 100 years, whereas the leopard (the longest living big cat) lives up to about 20 years. Tortoises are land living animals but the leopard tortoise is the only tortoise that can swim. However, in the dry winter months, it is important not to pick them up as they have a water sack in which they store water. If picked up, they release this sack as a defence mechanism; therefore, they could dehydrate very quickly.
This is the smallest of the “Little 5”, however, they are probably one of the most vicious of all of them. They dig pits/traps that, if an ant falls into it, it will not be able to get out. The antlion will then grab its prey and shake it around until it cannot move and then suck them dry and leave the rest of the carcass. The name ‘antlion’ probably comes from their predatory nature.
Be sure to ask about the “Little 5” on your next visit. They are quite interesting creatures.
KC – Kapama River Lodge