Looking Away From The Spotlight: The SMALL 5 of Africa

It’s always Fernweh for Savannah!

While the “Big Five” steals the attention almost every time, we suggest you go big on the “Little Five” and have endless fun moments with the little ones. Whether it is a safari in Kenya or a safari in Tanzania, take that camera, adjust those lenses, zoom in, click and capture the small five. Beware about belittling the little five, as they are quite elusive and capturing them on a frame is no child’s play.All these animals, Leopard Tortoise, Rhinoceros Beetle, Ant Lion, Elephant Shrew, Buffalo Weaver derive a part of their names from their fellow counterparts (read as the big 5).

Take the cue, time to go “Waah in the Savannah” to feel the gentle breeze touch your face and live as your adrenaline spike up as you spot one of these animals in the pristine wilderness of Africa. Hop on to the jeep and get set to be captivated by the most scenic sunsets, live the most stunning moments and rave in the lap of nature as you witness Earth in its rawest form.

Wander in wonder as you read on!


Leopard Tortoise

Spot these spotted tortoises unwinding in the backyard of Africa and learn how to slow down. Gaze at them as they graze on dry grass and find their home in other animals’ abandoned burrows. One animal’s loss is another animal’s gain! Their shells catches one’s attention because of their one of a kind gold and black markings typically reminding one of the rosette spots of a leopard. These tortoises usually live alone and can be found on quiet stretches of road throughout sub-Saharan Africa and in semi-arid areas of scrubland and Savannah. Besides the constant praise they garner, their eggs are stolen away by several birds are eaten by indigenous people living in that area. With their extremely resilient and sturdy shells, they can climb, swim and live for as long as 100 years. Say hey to them while you are in a safari in South Africa in Kruger National Park.


Rhinoceros Beetle

South Africa houses 1/5th of the species found in the Rhinoceros Beetle that can be found in the world. Thanks to their interesting body armour and a hooked horn that graces the heads of both male and female, that they derive their name. These horns are used by male Rhinoceros Beetle either to fight over territory or to find food inside rotting tree trunks. The species that you encounter in Africa are smaller in size (2 inches/5cm in length) than their counterparts found in the rest of the world(6 inches/15cm in length). Spotting these ferocious appearing beetles in full glory is a challenge as they bask and spring to life only in the night. Now, who said a vegetarian diet can’t make you strong? Take a cue from these beetles whose diet comprises of fruit, bark, sap and vegetable and still manage to  find a place in the list the strongest creatures in the world in proportion to their body weight. Chances of you finding a spotting different species of them is the highest in a South African safari, however even a Tanzanian safari or a Kenyan safari will not let you down.



Make way to the smallest member of the small five club. The most chilling part of these antlions is their innate ability to dig funnel-shaped holes in soft, dry sand to trap unsuspecting ants and pounce on them unabashedly. It’s the larvae’s savage temperament which mirrors that of their lion counterpart. With their hollow jaws, they literally suck their prey dry and toss aside the carcass like nobody’s business and set their eyes on the next victim. The antlion larvae are hairy fear-inducing beasts, obese bodies and sickle-shaped jaws, once fully grown, antlions are winged insects with close resemblances to dragonflies or damselflies.    Learn a lesson or two on resilience from these tiny creatures as they withstand the tests of time, go without food and survive like no other.

So, whether it’s a safari in Kenya or a safari in Tanzania, it’s assured to spot them as they reside everywhere in Africa!


Elephant Shrew

The Elephant Shrew is easily the most pleasant animal on the eyes amongst the little five. It feeds on insects with their tiny trunks. With their tiny flexible trunks, they sniff out insects and flick into their mouths through their tongues. These cute mammals brave a multitude of weather conditions and can be found in a diverse range of habitats including desert and dense woodland, distributed throughout Southern Africa. Although they are large in number, this is definitely the most difficult one to sight amongst the little five.

Elephant Shrews are shy animals who prefer to live peacefully in monogamous pairs and mark their territory with the help of a gland under their tail to produce an extremely strong scent. These leggy lasses are swift and can grow up to 12 inches/30cm.


Buffalo Weaver Bird

Whether it is the white-headed buffalo weaver or the white- billed buffalo weaver or red-billed buffalo weaver, find one of the three species of buffalo weavers and check it off your list in the small five. You can spot them in East African countries like Kenya, Tanzania. Although a safari in Uganda or a safari in Rwanda will do too. Take the South African safari to spot the red-billed buffalo weaver exclusively. These birds are to true to its name, as they weave intricate nests from things ranging from dry grass to small sticks and live with fellow birds yapping away happily (humans read it as noisy) . If you are a photographer interested in bird photography, capture those classic shots of them feeding on seeds, fruits and small insects or stand a chance to get truly lucky and find the red-billed buffalo weaver prey on scorpions.

Well, revel at the sheer brilliance of these little animals, marvel at how the little five fits in the big picture (more like the landscapes of Savannah) and surrender to the hospitality of Africa. Remember, Good things come in small Packages!

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