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You’ll need both hands to count Africa’s Big 5 (… and the Little 5)

Big 5

You know the Big 5 – now let’s introduce you to the Little 5…
Image from http://bit.ly/1ShaMOM

Africa’s Big 5 are famous: buffalo, rhino, elephant, leopard and lion. And the best way to see them for yourself is to take a self-drive safari through South Africa’s Kruger National Park.

The Big 5 share the gigantic reserve with more than 150 other species of mammals, as many as 517 species of birds, 114 species of reptiles (of which 54 are snakes), a staggering number of insects and 1 982 species of plants. In and among these you’ll find Kruger’s Little 5…

We all know that two wrongs don’t make a right, but do Big 5 and Little 5 make a medium 10? Enough with the mathematics, what is clear is that the Big and the Little 5 all deserve 10 out of 10!

red-billed buffalo weaver

The Red-billed Buffalo Weaver is the biggest of all the weavers.

First up is the Red-billed Buffalo Weaver. Sharing its name with the Big 5’s Cape Buffalo, this is the biggest of the weavers, but still grows to only 24cm in body length. Living in family groups or large flocks, these polygamous polies weave nests from strips of reed and grasses.

rhino, rhino beetle

The Rhino Beetle may seem quite frightening, but is harmless to humans.

More than 8 000 species of insects can be classified as beetles! The Rhinoceros Beetle is a subfamily of the scarab beetle family, yet there are over 300 known species of rhinoceros beetles. These beetles are named for the horns carried by the males: each has one on its head and another pointing forward from its thorax. But they do share more than their horns with their namesakes. The white- and black rhinos are amongst the biggest of the mammals, and the Rhinoceros Beetles are amongst the largest of the beetles. Although they can grow up to 15cm in length, they are harmless to humans as they cannot bite or sting.

elephant shrew

This little shrew is named for it’s trunk-like nose.

When it comes to size, the next member of the Little 5 does not have much in common with its Big 5 counterpart. The Eastern Rock Elephant Shrew is a mere 26cm from the tip of its tail to the tip of its elephantine nose – and, being longer than its body, the tail makes up most of this length. It lives amongst the cracks and crevices of loose and/or broken rocks and boulders where it can hide from predators and feed on small insects.

leopard tortoise

It’s easy to see how the Leopard Tortoise got its name!

The 4th largest tortoise species in the world is named for the spots on its shell. The Leopard Tortoise can live up to 100 years and weigh over 23kg. Distinctive markings are, however, where similarities between the tortoise and the big cat end – the Leopard Tortoise is a strict vegetarian (herbivore) and would rather retract into its shell in defence than attack with claws and teeth…

And speaking of big cats, the final member of the Little 5 is the Antlion. According to Wikipedia, Antlions are “…known for the fiercely predatory habits of their larvae, which in many species dig pits to trap passing ants or other prey.” The adult insect is often mistaken for dragonflies or damselflies and mostly fly at dusk or after dark. Check out the hunt in this video.

The Kruger National Park is full of surprises – and the best way to experience them is on your epic road trip. And yes, your road trip will be epic, because we will make sure it is. We’ll work with you to plan everything: which rental car to choose, what route to take, where to stay en route, what else to see outside and within the park, and what to do afterwards. All you’ll have to do is stay on the lookout for the Little – and Big – 5!

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