Have you been to Africa for a safari? If yes, then you are probably aware of the Big five animals. But did you know that you can actually encounter the little five animals during African safaris?
You will be surprised that the little five animals share a name with their Big five counterparts-Lions, Leopards, Rhinoceros, Buffaloes and Elephants. Therefore the little five animals include the Antlion, Leopard tortoise, Rhinoceros beetles, Buffalo weaver and Elephant shrew.
- The Antlion
As interesting as it is, the Antlion is the smallest member of the little five family and literally known as doodlebug among the Americans because of the remarkable patterns it draws in the sand, mainly within the semi-arid/arid areas throughout the African continent.
It is characterized by the wide body as well as big jaws and the larvae stage of this insect-referred as Antlion lacewing always resembles the dragonfly. These interesting insects usually dig small tunnel-shaped sand traps measuring around two inches deep within the dry and sunny areas. The Antlion normally preys on the ants thus their name.
2. Leopard tortoise
These animals derive their name from the remarkable leopard-like pattern on their shells and live across South and Eastern Africa within the savannah rangelands. The young ones are identified by the dark-brown or black pattern, which get smaller on the hard-bumpy shell as they mature. It is undeniable that the leopard tortoises are the largest of the little five animals are normally draw their heads, legs and tails into their shells for protection.
Leopard tortoises live solitary lives and are herbivores that feed on mainly succulents and grasses.
3. Rhino beetle
Rhino beetles inhabit areas of Southern Africa and are said to be the largest insects of the beetle family, with exceptional body armors. Their larvae normally take over 5 years to reach the adult stage. A mature male Rhino beetle grows up to 2.5 inches long, with large Rhino-like horns that are often used for fighting enemies thus the name Rhino beetle.
Besides that, the horns are used for digging underground tunnels while searching for food or from rotting wood. Their diet usually comprises of rotting tree barks, fruits, vegetable matter and sap. When you compare their size with their strength, you will indeed agree that they are the strongest animals on Earth.
4. Buffalo weaver
There are three main species of Buffalo weavers that include the red-billed buffalo weaver, white-headed buffalo weaver and the white-billed buffalo weavers and are commonly found within the East African countries especially Tanzania and Kenya much as can also be sighted in South Africa (especially the red-billed buffalo weavers). All these three species of buffalo weavers totally different in appearance with the white-billed and red-billed buffalo weavers being dark in color whereas the white-headed buffalo weavers are brown and white in color.
One common characteristic about these three buffalo weaver species is that they are very vocal, grow up to 24 centimeters (9.5 inches) long and live together within very noisy colonies while making intricate nests from dry grass and small sticks. All in all, the buffalo weavers inhabit dry savannah and scrubland areas. Their diet comprises of mainly fruits, seeds and small insects.
5. Elephant shrew
Interestingly, the elephant shrews are the most beautiful small insectivorous rodents. They derive their name from their elongated nose that is said to resemble that of the elephant trunk thus their elephant name. They are widely distributed across several African countries including South Africa within different home ranges ranging from thick woodlands to deserts. Even with their large numbers and the fact that they are very active during day, these mammals are rarely spotted. They are fast, running for up to 28 kilometers per hour but are generally shy in nature.