LET’S HEAR IT FOR THE LITTLE GUYS
South Africa has an amazing abundance of what I term “the little guys” which are a range of pint-sized predators, antelope, rodents – you name it – which do not get the attention they deserve in our national parks and game reserves.
One attempt made to rectify the situation was the creation of the “little five” – ant lion, leopard tortoise, elephant shrew, rhino beetle and buffalo weaver – as competition to the traditional “big five” – elephant, rhino, lion, buffalo and leopard.
But that simply does not do justice to the many species which are routinely ignored by the average tourist in our national parks intent solely on seeing the “big and hairy” species.
I am astounded time and again at how tourists will sit in their vehicles cooking in 35 degree heat for hours watching a pride of lion do precisely …..nothing ….because the lions have sensibly opted to pass out in the shade during the heat of the day.
Compare that to the constantly moving whiplash of focussed intensity that is a slender mongoose in the bush. It never stops moving and it is constantly on the alert “watching its six.”
The mongoose is hunting for prey which range from large insects through to big venomous snakes like black mamba and cobra but, at the same time, it is ideal prey for a range of large eagles plus other predators such as leopard. So it has to watch its back carefully.
Many of these little guys are only active at night but that is still no excuse for not seeing them because they are often to be found inside the rest camps at night. Genets are common at Witsand in the Northern Cape while Greater Galago are a feature of Mkhuze in Kwa-Zulu Natal and name me one rest camp in the Kruger which does not have a resident “camp” duiker or impala or bushbuck.
The numbers can be astonishing. Well-known biologist, author and ornithologist Warwick Tarboton lives in a 100 hectare enclosed retirement village near Modimolle (the former Nylstroom). A study he carried out revealed there were 43 grey duiker living within the property.
So I present a series of images to help promote our deeply under-appreciated “little guys” who deserve far more attention than the “tatty” lions which rule the tourism roost in the Kruger National Park.