The Big Five series continues. This time I thought it would be good to bring on board some rather interesting characters before we are done with the Big Five. Now meet the Small Five;


An Antlion is actually a larval stage of insects in the family Myrmeleontidae (The insect have closer resemblance to dragonfly). They are found around the world and live in sandy areas where they are able trap their prey – mainly ants. Their mode of eating is sucking; whereby they suck dry their prey. In North Africa, they are known as ‘Doodlebugs’ because of the spiraling trails they leave on sand looking for a good location to build a trap. They are referred to as ‘lion’ because of their lethal way of killing prey. 

Antlion, image: AWF

Elephant Shrew

The elephant shrew is an insect eating mammal with a long nose. They have a long nose useful in sniffing out insects, hence the name Elephant. They grow up to 30 cm. They have long legs that enable them hop about looking for food. They are found in in South Africa though rarely seen. Elephants shrews are not very social and often live in monogamous pairs. They mark their territory with a strong scent produced by a gland under the tail.

elephant shrew
Elephant Shrew, image: AWF

Rhino Beetle

This is a large insect with what appears to be body armor in both females and males. They grow up to 2.5 inches long. They are found all over Africa. They use their horns to dig for food in rotting tree trunks, fruits, under-growths as well as rotting vegetable matter. The most interesting facts about them is that, they are among the strongest living creatures in the world and the larvae of a Rhino beetle can take up to five years to mature into an adult.

Rhinoceros Beetle, image: National Wildlife Federation

Leopard Tortoise

Found in dry grassland of Sub-Saharan Africa, they have beautiful markings on their shells thus the name leopard. They feed on grass and live up to 100 years. They only burrow when nesting for their eggs. They like living in isolation weigh up to 40 lbs and grow up to 18 inches long.

Leopard Tortoise
Leopard Tortoise, image: AWF

Buffalo Weaver Bird

There are two types; the White-headed Buffalo weaver and the Black Buffalo Weaver. Both of them are found closer home in East Africa, especially in the dry areas. Of all the weaver birds they are the largest measuring up to 24 cm. They are loud and very social. They build large communal nest with a common characteristic being many entry places on different sides. Their nests are mainly made of sticks and thorns. They feed on insects, small fruits and grass seeds.

Red-Billed Buffalo Weaver
Red-Billed Buffalo Weaver, image: AWF

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Consultant in Tourism | Conservation Enthusiast | Budding Travel Writer - banter and everything travel.

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