Big Five and Unique Small Five
Many people come to
Africa to experience the wilderness and come to our parks to
have a close encounter with the BIG 5, but we also have our
unique small 5 which should not be taken for granted by our
visitors, they are also part of our African Adventure together
with the Landscapes, Flora and all the other magnificent
Animals that our wildlife has to offer.
Rhynchoycon and Petrodromus are largely confined to lowland
and montane forests and dense woodlands, while Elephantulus and
Macroscelides are found in more arid lowlands, such as savannahs,
scrublands, rocky outcrops, and deserts. In nearly all cases, sengis
are found in low densities compared to many other small mammals
(FitzGibbon 1995, Perrin 1995b).
At low latitudes reproduction is
continuous, but at higher latitudes it is seasonal (Neal 1995). All sengis prey on invertebrates, although most soft-furred species
supplement this diet with small fruits, seeds, and green plant
matter (Rathbun 1979, Kerley 1995). Snakes, raptors, and carnivores
are known predators of sengis. A wide variety of parasites are
hosted by macroscelids (Fourie et al. 1995).
probably the most successful of the ground-dwelling mammals known as
insectivores. There are around 275 shrew species in all. Even though
shrews and other small mammals such as moles and hedgehogs are
placed together in the order Insectivora, they are not actually
related. Their size ranges from mouse to rabbit size.
antlion larva digs its pits in dry, sunny spots sheltered from wind
and rain, particularly on south-facing slopes. The soil must be
light and easy to shift. Pushing itself backward, the larva first
draws a circle on the ground. Then, digging deeper and deeper, it
spirals in toward the centre.
The dirt that is dug out is thrown
out energetically with the head. After only about 15 minutes, the antlion has made a funnel-shaped crater in the earth. The antlion
larvae prepare the sides of their pits with fine sand or soil
particles so ants that fall in can't climb out, and land in the jaws
of the "doodlebug" waiting at the bottom. It buries itself at the
bottom so that only the head, with opened jaws, can be seen, and
there it waits for its prey.
Antlion larvae eventually
pupate in the soil, becoming adult insects that look somewhat like
dragonflies, except that they are more fragile and are weak fliers..
Antlions are beneficial to man because of their ant diet and they
cause no problems.
Locally, they are a common bird found in East Africa.
Buffalo weavers nest in open, loose colonies. The nest is built high
in a tree in a fork of branches. It is a large, rather untidy
structure of twigs and coarse grasses.
(Philetairus socius) build huge nests, the most complex of all avian
structures. The birds are sparrow-like in size and appearance. The
individual birds join forces and weave a grass roof in the branches
of a tree. They then weave vertical tunnels upward that widen into
chambers just under the roof.
Wherever you go in the parks
and reserves with dry bush or savanna, there will be trees festooned
with the nests. There are many species of weavers in Africa, some
common and others are rarer. Among these, the best nest-builders are
those which build flask-shaped nests. The males have black and
yellow plumage while the females may share their mates colors or
have dull yellow plumage. Some species in this genus (Ploceus) are
difficult to distinguish.
Buffalo weavers are the least
accomplished nest makers of the African species. As weavers go, they
are large, up to nine inches (23 cm) long. Usually in small groups,
they reside in arid areas. their nests are thorn structures with
side entrances facing different directions. Dinemelli's Buffalo
Weaver (Dinemellia dinemelli) is common in dry bush and easily
recognized from its black, white and red coloration. The Common
Buffalo Weaver (Bubalornis albirodstris) male is black.
The Rhino Beetle is among the largest beetles. It is the
largest beetle in its habitat, but not in the world. In all horned
beetles, the huge spikes are used by males in combat rather than for
defence against predators.
Rhinoceros beetles grow to be
between 1 and 2 1/2 inches long. Both sexes have horns, making it
difficult to distinguish between them. Male beetles use these horns
for fighting rival males over feeding sites or females. Rhinoceros
beetles also use their horns for digging, climbing and mating.
The leopard tortoise
is approximately 2 feet long which is the biggest turtle in Africa.
It weighs 50 to 100 lbs. Its name comes from the color of its shell
which has black and yellow spots, look like a leopard. The young
have dark brown or black leopard patterns on their shells while
adults have smaller spots. Their head, legs, and tail are brownish,
yellow. The shell is shaped like an upside-down bowl. It is hard,
and bumpy. There is a v shaped notch in the front of the shell.
Leopard tortoises have thick
club-like back legs that have scales with claws on their toes. They
don't have webbed feet. The head, legs, and tail can be almost
completely drawn under the shell.
Leopard tortoises live from Eastern Africa to Rest of Africa. Their habitat is a Savannah,which is a grassland, with
In the wild, leopard tortoises usually do not mate
until they are between 12 to 15 years old. In captivity, the animals
often grow faster and can be ready to mate between six and eight
years. Male leopard tortoises can be recognized from females by
their longer tails. When the female is ready to lay her egss, she
digs a hole 12 inches deep with her hind feet and lays 5 to 30 white
eggs at three week intervals for twenty weeks. They hatch one year
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