Most visitors to Southern Africa have heard all about the Big Five but there are a few rarer, and often more interesting, yet lesser known creatures to discover on the continent. We take a closer look at the Forgotten Five (plus 1) and reveal where you can learn more about them in Namibia.
The Forgotten Five, which has recently been upgraded with the addition of the spotted rubber frog, consists of some of the most endangered creatures on earth. Your chances of spotting them in the wild are slim to none. Even with the help of an experienced game guide. So where do you go if you’d like to see these incredible creatures?
The Rare and Endangered Species Trust (REST) has just moved to a new location outside Outjo, about an hour’s drive from Etosha National Park. REST is well-known for their sterling work in protecting the Cape Griffon vultures of Namibia, but their efforts extend far beyond the Griffon vultures. Here’s what you need to know about the other members of the Forgotten Five.
This extremely rare reptile occurs only in North-western Namibia and South-western Angola. These beautiful miniature versions of the African Rock python are highly sought-after as pets. As a result, their numbers have dwindled due to a disturbingly high demand from the exotic pet trade. Little is known about these creatures in the wild and REST is appealing for help with research about them.
African Wild Dog
The African Wild Dog, or Painted Dog, is the best-known of the Forgotten Five. In modern times the numbers of these animals in the wild has dwindled to less than 5 000 animals worldwide. They are severely threatened by habitat loss, poisoning and hunting.
REST is working with local communities to educate them on the hunting capabilities of wild dogs and limit livestock losses due to predation. They also believe that a satellite tracking system for wild dogs will help to monitor and study the wild dog in Namibia.
These reclusive creatures are hot property in Asia where their scales are believed to have magical properties. Pangolins are extremely shy and prone to stress, making it impossible to keep them in the rehabilitation center. Tracking devices are needed for REST to continue their research into these fragile animals.
Damara Dik Dik
Small in stature and small in numbers, the Damara Dik Dik is highly sought-after by trophy hunters. Being monogamous, every time one Damara Dik Dik is killed, a breeding pair is lost. REST hopes to continue their study of Namibia’s smallest antelope with radio collar tracking and observation.
Spotted Rubber Frog
Almost nothing is known about this extremely rare and attractive frog with its red markings on a brown body. REST needs your help to find out more about its behavior before it disappears totally.
The volunteers and staff of REST are trying their utmost to preserve and protect the future existence of species by working closely with communities to limit hunting and poaching. They also undertake educational programs in local schools to educate the youth on the importance of conservation, teaching them how everything in nature has its place.
On your next visit to Etosha National Park, stop off at REST and learn more about their good work. A trip to their rehabilitation center makes for a great day trip and the tours are interesting and informative. REST needs all the help they can get, find out what you can do to assist them here.