LITTLE 5

You’ve heard of the Big 5, right? This is the ultimate sighting on any safari and provides the gold standard of wildlife in South Africa. But it doesn’t stop there. They may be small but they play an integral part in nature’s symbiotic pyramid of life. Welgevonden Game Reserve is also home to Africa’s Little 5: rhino beetle, elephant shrew, ant lion, leopard tortoise and buffalo weaver.

The Rhino Beetle: There are over 300 species of rhino beetles, and like the rhino, each has a horn on its head that it uses to dig for food.

The Elephant Shrew: Its small body and long nose easily make the elephant shrew the cutest of all the Little 5 animals.

The Ant Lion: The ant lion might be the smallest member of the Little 5 family, but it is king among the ants. The young ant lion larva lives most of its life underground, digging traps with its jaws to catch as many ants and termites it can possibly eat. The ant lion larva eventually grows into a winged insect that eats pollen and nectar.

The Leopard Tortoise: The leopard tortoise is the biggest among the Little 5 animals. Made unique by the beautiful patterns on its shell, it can easily be found in most parts of South Africa. These creatures are herbivores and have been known to live up to 100 years.

The Buffalo Weaver: Red-billed buffalo weavers (Bubarlornis niger) are social birds that build their nests in the forked branches of tall trees. They nest in open colonies and are a rather noisy and busy lot. The weavers’ nests can be recognized by their rather bedraggled state, made from coarse grasses and with untidy twig structures.