What are the little five in Africa? The Big Five animals—the Lion, Black Rhinoceros, Leopard, African Buffalo, and African Bush Elephant—are typically seen during a safari in Africa. The phrase, which was created during colonial times, refers to the top five dangers on a Kenya safari.
Every wildlife enthusiast’s bucket list includes seeing the Big Five, but there is another group of animals that is equally deserving of spotlight and attention. A group of animal species known as the Small Five or Little Five of Africa are far more elusive. A physical similarity or shared behaviour led to their naming after the Big Five.
Even though the Little Five are diminutive and less well-known, seeing them in their natural environment is just as thrilling as seeing a lion or a leopard.
There are three different species of the bird known as the buffalo weaver. These three buffalo weaver species are white-headed, red-billed, and white-billed. Due of their propensity to follow water buffaloes to feast on the insects their hooves stir up, these birds got their names from the water buffaloes.
The buffalo weaver with a red bill is large and hefty. The male has enormous vermilion tail, chocolate brown fur, and red legs. The female, on the other hand, has a whiter bill and is streakier and paler below. Bulky and sporting a longer tail, the white-billed buffalo weaver is larger. The female has a black bill, as opposed to the male’s white bill.
As they are known to breed in large, shoddy nests made of sticks in trees or power poles, buffalo weaver nests are simple to identify. Along with starlings and other birds, they also forage on the ground in small and big groups. Buffalo weavers consume fruits, seeds, and insects. A buffalo weaver can be identified by its sounds, which are a strange electronic vocalisation that masks a boisterous gathering.
Buffalo weavers are a common species in East Africa, mainly in Kenya and Tanzania. They prefer arid climates. Additionally, it frequently inhabits Botswana, Mozambique, and parts of Zimbabwe’s western region.
The Antlion is the smallest member of the Little Five group. It is well renowned for its predatory, violent behaviour that resembles that of a lion. An Antlion is a flying insect larva recognised for being a skilled hunter and for constructing lethal traps.
It has a spherical, hairy body and pointed mandibles. Adult antlions have a lengthy body, pincer-like fangs that protrude from their mouths, wings that are speckled with black and brown, and curled or clubbed antennae. The Antlion uses a unique technique to capture ants and other insects. It excavates a funnel-shaped pit by using its grey abdomen as a plough. It carefully piles the loosening debris on its big head and expels it from the hole.
The antlion buries itself as the pit is finished, barely sticking out its jaw. Small insects that wander over the edge of the pitfall into the bottom and are caught by the antlion’s powerful jaws. The empty skin is spat out of the funnel-shaped pit by the antlion after it has finished sucking the contents of its prey.
The antlion larvae finally spin a sand and silk cocoon in which they undergo a dragonfly-like transformation. Antlions are typically found in sandy environments including deserts, dry forests, and sandy bank roads.
The world’s fourth-largest tortoise is it. Its shell is adorned with beautiful red and gold markings that resemble the leopard, a sizable spotted animal. An emblematic creature of the African savannah is this large and magnificent tortoise.
A leopard tortoise can weigh approximately 118 pounds and reach lengths of up to 12 to 18 inches. They have a lifespan of 80 to 100 years. Their spots and markings becoming paler as they get older or mature. They can completely retract their tails, legs, and heads under their shell. They have brownish or yellow heads, legs, and tails. Leopard tortoises are herbivores that mostly consume grass and weeds as well as the occasional fruit or fungus.
The only species of swimming tortoise known in Southern Africa, the leopard tortoise lives alone. They cannot stand cold or wet weather because they are well adapted to the semi-arid environments of the African savannah. They can be easily found when on a safari and are found throughout East and Southern Africa. They are one of the Little Five members who are most frequently seen as a result.
The family of scarab beetles includes the rhinoceros beetle. The male rhino beetles can be easily identified by their horn-like projections on their heads, which resemble those of a black rhino. They are so powerful and one of the rare species that can lift up to 850 times their own weight that they are also known as Hercules beetles.
A rhinoceros beetle is 7 cm long and typically black, green, or grey in colour. While most beetles have a polished appearance, some even have soft hairs covering them. Male beetles have horns, which they mostly employ to burrow into the ground and leaf litter to flee from danger. Additionally, they attract the attention of female rhinoceros beetles by using their horns to combat other males.
Except for Antarctica, the rhinoceros beetle is widespread throughout the world. They are frequently seen all over Southern Africa on the African continent. These beetles can be difficult to notice, however, they are most frequently observed at night time in close proximity to lights.
The smaller, less well-known, but captivating species that inhabit the African savannahs have been acknowledged by conservationists. Don’t forget to keep an eye on the Little Five in addition to crossing off the big game from your list! You may never know when a rhino beetle will sleep overnight close to your tent or when a buffalo weaver will soar above your head.
The Elephant Shrew is a tiny, insect-eating mammal that looks like an elephant because of its flexible nose. It is also regarded as the Small Five animals’ most lovable member. Although they are unrelated to shrews, they have a superficial resemblance to them. In actuality, sea cows, aardvarks, and elephants are all closely related to elephant shrews. Africa is home to 19 different species of elongated shrews.
This creature has a large, pointed head and a long, movable nose that resembles a trunk. Including their tail, which extends another 9 to 12 inches, they reach lengths of 22 to 30 centimetres. This little creature can fit in the palm of your hand. Furthermore, they move like a rabbit since they have long legs and hop. As a result, they are also known as jumping shrews.
Elephant shrews have extremely sensitive noses, which aids in the detection of both prey and predators. Their tail’s underside contains a gland that releases a potent scent that serves as a territorial marking. Carnivores are deterred by the smell of musk. Elephant shrews frequently form monogamous pairs, however, they are rarely seen together since they only come together briefly during the mating season.
With the exception of western Africa and the Sahara region, elephant shrews are broadly dispersed across the continent.