The Big Five and friends: Farside Africa’s guide to the best and least known safari animals.

The Big 5 – When people talk about safaris they often talk about the ‘Big 5’ but what animals are they and why are they considered the most highly prized viewing out of the great many wonderful animals that you can see on safari?

The Big 5 are the Lion, Leopard, Elephant, Rhino and Cape buffalo.

So why (you may ask) is the hippo, giraffe or even zebra not included? The Big 5 has nothing to do with size, rarity or opportunity to see. The term actually dates back to the days of the ‘big-game’ hunters and the list was created based on how ferocious the animals could be. Fortunately that is in the past and the term is now used by tour operators and guides to introduce visitors these wonderful animals living in their natural habitat in the safety of the wildlife reserves and national parks.  Seeing the Big 5 is always a highlight for visitors to Africa on safari, however your guide will introduce you to a wealth of other amazing animals, insects and birds that are just as exciting and awe inspiring.

The Little 5

The Little 5 was created by guides and conservationists who wanted to showcase the smaller and more elusive species in the African wilderness.

The Antlion is found in sandy areas and as a larve, it burrows in the sand lying in wait for a passing ant to fall into its sandy pit. It’s then seized by the sickle-like jaws of the antlion and the contents sucked from its victim.

Once it has fed enough to sustain it, the antlion forms a cocoon and transforms in to what is commonly known as a doodlebug which in turn lays its eggs in the sand and the circle starts again.

The Leopard tortoise is only tortoise not to have a nuchal shield (the protective scute above the neck). This means the leopard tortoise is the only tortoise that can raise its head, and as a result, is able to swim.

The leopard tortoise stores water during the dry winter months in a “bursa sac”. This reserve is used for hydration and also to moisten the baked ground, to make it easier for the female to dig a nest for her eggs.

The elephant shrew is an insect eating mammal with a long nose (hence the name).

Found in Africa, they’re known as sengis and aren’t in fact related to shrews at all, but are a species on their own. Often found in rocky areas quite shy and not often seen as they’re well camouflaged and very fast!

Rhino beetles are part of the largest species of beetles in the world reaching 6cm in length. They are part of the scarab family and aptly named because it has horns on its head much like a rhino.

The buffalo weaver is a common bird which is often seen in acacia trees and dry savannahs of eastern and southern Africa.



To see these amazing animals in their natural habitat contact us on 0131 315 2464.


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