Buffalo Weaver

Let's Get Small - A Look at Africa's Little Five

Zegrahm Contributor|July 20, 2016|Blog Post

While much attention is rightly paid to Africa’s Big Five, we believe the continent’s smaller wildlife deserve their due, as well. Enter Africa’s Little Five. These tiny fellas often get overlooked—and not simply because of their minuscule size. Yet they play a vital role in maintaining the diverse and delicate African eco-system. So, let’s take a closer look these half pints.

African Elephant Shrew

Elephant Shrew 

This cute little guy looks like a rat crossed with an elephant. Native to at least six African countries, the elephant shrew averages around 5.5 inches in length; some reach almost twice that size. Look for them hopping about on their long legs, using their large snouts to sniff out insects across Southern Africa’s dry forests and savannas.

Buffalo Weaver

Buffalo Weaver

The three species of buffalo weavers—black, red-billed, and white-billed—are among the largest weaver birds, measuring between 8 and 10 inches. They also are the messiest, building large, communal nests with multiple entrances and often more than one to a tree. Quite social in nature, they can be found in small flocks, loudly cackling as they scour Africa’s dry regions for insects, seeds, and fruits.

African Ant Lion

Ant Lion

This peewee may be the smallest of the Little Five, but he rules other ant species. Also known as pill bugs or doodlebugs, ant lions are found in sandy, arid areas, digging underground traps to catch even smaller brethren for food. Eventually the larva transforms into a winged insect, more diplomatically dining on nectar and pollen.

African Rhino Beetle

Rhino Beetle

Heavy body armor and a wicked horn make this insect one fierce-looking dude. The male actually sports a dual-tipped horn that can be used as pinchers to dig for food or do battle with rivals. (Don’t worry, they are harmless to humans.) Rhino beetles, which can reach up to 6 inches in length, are among some of the strongest creatures on the planet when compared to their body weight.

African Leopard Tortoise

Leopard Tortoise

The biggest of the Little Five is also one of the largest tortoises on land, measuring around two feet in length and weighing upwards of 70 pounds. Named for the distinctive markings on their shells, these handsome herbivores are found throughout southern and eastern African and can live up to 75 years in captivity.


Keep an eye out for these pint-size creatures on a number of upcoming expeditions across the African continent:

Signature Botswana | May 16, 2017 | May 15, 2018
Ultimate Namibia | July 24, 2017
Gorillas & the Great Migration: Rwanda & Tanzania | August 24, 2017 
Remote Tanzania
| August 9, 2017 | August 8, 2018
Wildlife Along the Zambezi: Zambia & Zimbabwe | September 18, 2017
Southern Africa's Diversity: Namibia, Botswana & Zambia | February 14, 2018
Kenya & Tanzania Under the Canvas | June 18, 2018
Plains to Primates: Zambia & Rwanda | September 6, 2018


Related Blog Posts

  • Atlas Mountains, Morocco
    Blog Post

    Experience Berber Culture in Morocco

    June 19, 2017 | Blog Post

    Morocco is often lumped into the Middle East (rather than North Africa) and classified as an Arabic country. But the indigenous people of Morocco—the Berbers—are the area’s original inhabitants. The majority of the country’s population of around 34 million is Berber, not Arab.

    Read More

    Great Barrier Reef

    2018: 26 Countries, 52 UNESCO World Heritage Sites [Infographic]

    May 4, 2017 | Infographics

    In 2018, Zegrahm will be visiting 52 amazing UNESCO World Heritage Sites in over 25 countries! The United Nations Educational Scientific & Cultural Organization is a specialized agency of the UN that maintains a list of important natural or histroical sites, whose preservation and safe-keeping are deemed important for the world community.

    Read More

    Cape Verde

    You're Invited: Sea to Sahara with Cape Verde, Canary Islands & Morocco

    May 1, 2017 | Video

    Zegrahm Cofounder and Expedition Leader, Mike Messick, is thrilled to be joining our upcoming Sea to Sahara: Cape Verde, Canary Islands & Morocco expedition.

    Read More

  • Cape Verde
    Blog Post

    Cruising to Macaronesia: From Western Sahara to Unspoiled Islands

    April 17, 2017 | Blog Post

    In ancient times, the world was believed to end at the Strait of Gibraltar. The Atlantic was a wild, threatening expanse of waves, monsters, and mysteries; few seafarers dared sail its waters. But by the late Middle Ages, European ships began crossing regularly, eventually encountering the largely uninhabited islands of Macaronesia.

    Read More

    Island Sky
    Sahara Desert
    Blog Post

    When the Sands Were Green

    March 9, 2017 | Blog Post

    Staring out across the vast sand dunes that lie beyond Dakhla, it seems inconceivable that the Sahara Desert was once lush with vegetation.

    Read More

  • Lanzarote, Canary Islands
    Blog Post

    2018 Travel Bucket List

    March 6, 2017 | Blog Post

    Where will your travel dreams take you in 2018? Here are just a few once-in-a-lifetime experiences Zegrahm can help you check off your bucket list next year.


    Read More

    Kyoto, Japan

    2017: 34 Countries, 90 UNESCO World Heritage Sites [Infographic]

    February 14, 2017 | Infographics

    In 2017, Zegrahm will be visiting 90 amazing UNESCO World Heritage Sites in over 30 countries! The United Nations Educational Scientific & Cultural Organization is a specialized agency of the UN that maintains a list of important natural or histroical sites, whose preservation and safe-keeping are deemed important for the world community.

    Read More

    Mountain Gorilla, Rwanda
    Blog Post

    Going Ape in Rwanda

    January 10, 2017 | Blog Post

    It seems just about everyone is getting their genetic makeup tested these days. Yet in the search to find our DNA ancestry, we often overlook our closest living relatives—the Great Apes.

    Read More

  • Jaguar, Pantanal, Brazil | Mark Brazil
    Blog Post

    What Was Your Favorite Wildlife Experience of 2016?

    December 28, 2016 | Blog Post

    We recently reached out to our field staff, to find out what their favorite wildlife experiences of 2016 were. From South America to Australia’s Kimberley, our staff have traveled the world this year. Below, enjoy their stories.  


    Read More

    Bay Islands, Honduras
    Blog Post

    Happy Thanksgiving from Zegrahm Expeditions

    November 22, 2016 | Blog Post

    At this time of year, as we join our family and friends and reflect on what we're thankful for, a common thread that unites the staff here at Zegrahm is, of course, travel. Here are just a few of the moments—across all seven continents—we're most grateful for experiencing over the past year: 

    Read More

    Sapporo, Japan
    Blog Post

    Voting for 2018 is Underway!

    November 3, 2016 | Blog Post

    This election season, we at Zegrahm vote for a straight ticket to adventure with this informal ballot of top expeditions for 2018. It’s a competitive race, stretching across three continents with a referendum on nature and new cultural experiences.

    Here’s a look at our 2018 candidates:

    Read More