Presenting The ‘Little 5’ – The Charm Of The African Veld

Much has been written about the fabulous ‘Big 5’ of the African veld. They are the five sightings that must be made in order for one to say that you have really experienced a great African Safari. We believe however that their tiny counterparts (and they do exist) are just as charming and if truth be told probably far harder to spot!

It is only when one takes a personalised African safari, that knowledgeable game rangers will take you off the beaten track for a walk in the African bush to teach you about the plant life and look for and find these unsung heroes, just as significant to the ecology of the bush as their big cousins. 

Ladies and Gentlemen without further ado – Presenting the ‘Little 5’ – the charm of the African veld:

The Rhino Beetle 

You all know his namesake, the now sadly endangered Rhino, but what about this little guy, so named for the horn on his snout? Dynastinae or Rhinoceros beetles are also known as Hercules, Unicorn or Horn beetles. Over 300 species of Rhino beetles are known. They are dung beetles and assist in cleaning up after the larger animals in the veld. 

The Ant-Lion 

You all know him, the king of the jungle, but did you know his insect counterpart in the air? These winged creatures (actually Antlion – one word) sometimes mistaken as Dragonflies, are are a group of about 2,000 species of insect in the family ‘Myrmeleontidae.’ They are something of a local delicacy when cooked and usually herald rain.

The Leopard Tortoise

 The Leopard is the most difficult of all the Big 5 to spot – and this guy? Well if you’re not looking for him, you’re unlikely to be able to name him amongst your trophies. This is an attractively marked (like that of the Leopard) Tortoise found in the savannas of Eastern and Southern Africa, from Sudan to the Southern Cape. The leopard tortoise eats plant matter, but also old hyena scat (coprophagia). They also gnaw on bones (osteophagia). The high calcium content in both provide essential minerals to keep the tortoise’s shell in good condition, and to aid eggshell production.

Elephant Shrew 

Now here’s an extreme comparison! From the world’s largest land mammal to this small insect eating mammal named from a fancied resemblance between their long noses and the trunk of an Elephant and their superficial similarity with Shrews.

Buffalo Weaver 

Buffalo are those huge strong bovine creatures that hang around in rivers and even Lions fear them. The buffalo weaver however, simply put, is a weaver bird that just likes to hang around with them and they can be seen ‘Buffalo riding’ all the time! Buffalo weavers live in dry regions, where they forage omnivorously on the ground in small noisy flocks, often in the wake of buffalo herds. The nest, a heap of thorny twigs, contains compartments for two or more pairs; several nests may occupy the same tree. The whole nest is usually found in a thorny tree or in a windmill near areas inhabited by humans. It is interesting to note that when humans depart from particular areas, so do the red-billed buffalo weavers living in the same area.

When you compile that photo album of your luxury safari experience why not stand out from the crowd and include some photos of the ‘Little 5’ and some of the myriad of other creatures you will encounter on a bush walk? Things like the dung beetle, maybe a millipede, a termite hill and many other cool things can add some colour and perspective to your great safari experience. Then you can say you have really had a bush experience with a difference!

Rest assured that when you entrust Jewel of Africa Safaris with your next luxury African Safari, you can experience both the Big 5 and all the wonders that can be found on a great guided bush walk. Their 4 Day Fly in Kruger Safari & 5 Day Private Lodge Kruger packages include this experience, but as always they pride themselves on their flexibility and make up tailor made vacation packages to suit your specific preferences. Now we have presented the ‘Little 5’ – the charm of the African veld…. contact us to find out what more we can offer to make your African safari truly unique and unforgettable!


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