Who Are The Little 5? | Blog | Madikwe Hills Menu

Who Are The Little 5?

By Madikwe Hills on June 28, 2020



We imagine you’ve heard of the Big 5 and maybe even the Shy 5, but have you ever heard of the Little 5? If not, allow us to make the necessary introductions and by the end of this blog, we hope you add them to your next safari wildlife checklist. Let’s get started!

honeymoon safari south africa

Red-billed Buffalo Weaver

This is arguably the easiest of the Little 5 to spot on a game drive given its striking dark body and red beak. Despite their small stature, these birds can make a real racket, especially when in groups. True to their name, the weaver’s tend to be found around buffalo as they forage omnivorously at the disturbed earth left in the herds’ wake.

Typically found: eastern and southern Africa in dry savanna habitats.


Don’t be fooled by its name, this member of the Little 5 is nothing like the 4-legged king of the bush you know! Nonetheless, their size makes them no less mighty and are very impressive ambush predators – as larvae, these little insects dig pits that form traps for passing prey. As they reach maturity, Antlions undergo a metamorphosis and sprout wings after which they could easily be mistaken as a dragonfly.

Typically found: dry, sandy habitats where the earth is easily manoeuvrable for their traps – making Sabi Sand the perfect place to call home.

Leopard Tortoise

Although the Leopard Tortoise forms part of the Little 5, the species are actually classified as the fourth largest in the world measuring up to 40 centimetres and weighing around 13 kilograms. As youngsters, their shells have distinct spots, dashes and stripes on a yellow background, however, as they get older this fades to a grey or brown.

Typically found: southern and eastern Africa in savanna-like environs – including Sabi Sand.

Rhinoceros Beetle

Introducing the smallest member of the Little 5, Rhinoceros Beetles. This little insect is a sub-species of the scarab beetle family and completely harmless. Named after a member of the Big 5, the Rhinoceros Beetle gets its name from the horns found on the thorax and head of male beetles.

These beetles may be difficult to spot given their nocturnal tendencies but keep an eye out, you never know!

Elephant Shrew

Another member of the Little 5 sharing a name with one of the iconic Big 5; in this case, the resemblance stems from the shrew’s long nose and an elephant’s trunk.

These small mammals are surprisingly fast, reaching speeds of up to 28.8 kilometres per hour.

Typically found: southern Africa.

Now that you know who we’re talking about, we hope you’ll keep an eye out for the Little 5 on your next safari adventure!

To learn more about Madikwe Hills and Madikwe Game Reserve, visit our website or feel free to email us at reception@madikwehills.co.za.

For any and all COVID-19 health & safety guidelines, please follow this link.

Image Credits: Cal Butler, National Museum Publications, Edible Gold, National Geographic, Kalman Kovat

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *