The Little Five: Who they are and why you should try spot them

Posted on 18 September 2023 By Jordyn Johnson

Finding the Big Five while driving around a game reserve is always exciting, but have you ever set out to spot the awesome Little Five?

The Little Five is a group of small animals that play an essential role in our ecosystems. They are best encountered during a walking safari, as they are easier to find on foot.

Ant lion

Picture: Flickr – Scott McMillan

Antlion larvae are known for digging cone-shaped traps in sandy soil to trap termites, ants, and other small prey. Most of its life is spent underground, and after a period of feeding, it prepares a cocoon of spun silk and sand, where it metamorphs into a dragonfly-looking insect. They are found worldwide but mainly in sandy, dry areas.

Leopard Tortoise

Picture: Flickr – Amanda

Leopard Tortoises are the largest of the Little Five, can grow up to 45 cm, and weigh over 18 kg. Their striking and distinctive shell patterns resemble a leopard’s markings, which is where they get their name from.

Rhino Beetle

Picture: Flickr – Shek Graham

The Rhino Beetle can lift 850 times its body weight and is considered one of the world’s strongest creatures. They get their name due to the horn found on male beetles, much like a rhino horn, which they use when fighting for mating rights.

Elephant Shrew

Picture: Flickr – Zoofanatic

The little Elephant Shrews spend most of their time hiding from their predators, namely birds of prey and snakes. Its elongated snout resembles an elephant’s nose, which they use for hunting insects. Their long hind legs let them jump almost a metre into the air.

Buffalo Weaver

Little Five

Picture: Flickr – Greg Tee

Buffalo weavers are a bird species that belong to the weaver family. They are dark in colour with a red beak. They often nest in the acacia trees frequented by buffalo, and their nests are usually ‘a mishmash of grasses and twigs.’ Buffalo Weavers are very sociable and noisy.

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