Beyond the Big Five: Discovering the Little Five at Morukuru Family Madikwe

While most safaris are about the iconic Big Five, there’s so much more diversity to Africa’s wildlife – including the lesser-known, but no less memorable, Little Five. Discover both the Big and Little Five on safari in the Madikwe Game Reserve, North West Province, when you stay at our exclusive-use properties at Morukuru Family Madikwe. But what is the Little Five? It’s a group of African creatures that, while small in stature, are unique and rewarding to observe. Meet the Little Five: Elephant shrew (or sengi): An insectivorous mammal with a long, pointed nose similar to an elephant’s trunk. Despite their name, elephant shrews aren’t actually shrews – they’re more closely related to elephants, manatees, and anteaters. Leopard tortoise: Named for its spotted shell that resembles the leopard’s coat, the leopard tortoise is one of the largest tortoise species found in Africa and can live up to 100 years. Antlion: Kings of the insect world, antlions are known for their predatory behaviour when in their larvae life stage (which can extend up to three years). They dig pits in sandy soil and lie in wait for ants and other insects to fall in. Antlions resemble dragonflies when they eventually reach their adult stage, and they’re primarily nocturnal, making them a rare find. Rhino beetle: The large rhino beetle is so-named because of the horn-like projections on the males’ heads, reminiscent of a rhino’s horns. Rhino beetles are extremely strong and can lift objects up to 850 times their weight. Buffalo weaver: The buffalo weaver is a bird that gets its name from being seen around buffalo, pecking off insects from their skin or the ground where these animals have disturbed the soil. They build massive, messy communal nests of twigs – look out for them in trees and on utility poles. How to spot the Little Five Since they’re small, your observation skills should be on point. Here are some guidelines for successfully scoping them out in the Madikwe Game Reserve:
  • Begin by learning about the creatures’ habitats. For instance, the elephant shrew tends to forage in dry, sandy areas and under bushes, and the rhino beetle feeds on flowering plants at night.
  • Timing is key. Early morning or late afternoon are the best times for spotting animals, including the Little Five. Elephant shrews, buffalo weavers, and leopard tortoises are more active during cooler times of the day, while antlions and rhino beetles are more likely to be spotted at dusk or at night, so a nocturnal walk or drive can increase your chances.
  • Safari guides and trackers have a wealth of knowledge and “bush eyes” – sharp eyesight and the ability to spot tracks and even the most elusive wildlife. They can lead you to places where the Little Five live or are known to frequent.
  • While game viewing focuses on looking ahead and around, spotting the Little Five often means looking down at the ground or closely examining the environment.
Remember, the thrill of spotting the Little Five lies in appreciating the smaller details and ecosystems of the African wilderness. Take time to enjoy these moments and the special experience. Discover the Little Five with Morukuru Family Madikwe At Morukuru Family Madikwe, we offer you luxurious, solar-powered, exclusive-use accommodation ideally situated in the Madikwe Game Reserve. Our two-bedroom Morukuru Owner’s House is perfect for couples and families of four. Our three-bedroomed Morukuru River House is right next door, accommodating up to six adults and four children. And, finally, there’s Morukuru Farm House, welcoming up to 10 guests in five spacious bedrooms for an idyllic farm-style retreat.           All our properties promise ample opportunity to see both the Big and Little Five in all their wild glory. Get in touch with us or contact your travel agent for more information and to make a reservation.