Years ago, I cut myself badly skinning a whitetail on a hunt near Moosomin, Saskatchewan and had to have stitches done after I severed an artery near my thumb (another skinning lesson learned . . . ). The doctor who did the surgery happened to be from South Africa (it turned out all the doctors in the hospital at that time were from South Africa!); he told me that as I was a hunter, I should plan on an African safari to go after ‘The Big Five’.
He didn’t say anything about ‘The Tiny Ten’.
The Big Five, as many hunters know, are the elephant, lion, leopard, cape buffalo and rhino. For big game hunters, taking all of the Big Five is considered to be one of highest achievements a hunter can accomplish. The reason for this is the inherent danger in trying to hunt any of these animals; the term ‘The Big Five’ was coined years ago to say here are the five most dangerous game species a hunter can pursue. There were bragging rights to any hunter who could say he (or she) had taken The Big Five. Even today, cape buffalo are believed to gore and kill about 200 people a year (mostly hunters).
While there’s still a mystique in today’s hunting world around The Big Five, it isn’t what it used to be.
There are a number of reasons for this attitudinal change. First, whether this assemblage of African big game animals is indeed a list of the 5 most dangerous animals a hunter can pursue has always been debatable, but never more than today. In addition, hunting ‘dangerous animals’ isn’t a top of the list want for many of the hunters of today. Finally, there are a lot fewer opportunities to hunt these animals than there used to be.
At any rate, hunting The Big Five has never been something I aspired to do, although it was certainly of interest to me, even those many years ago in Moosomin.
Back to ‘The Tiny Ten’. . .
Around the campfire in Namibia on our first night, talk of The Big Five naturally came up.
And that’s when I first heard about The Tiny Ten.
The Tiny Ten is a list of the following species of small antelope found in southern Africa:
- Damara Dik-Dik
- Blue Duiker
- Common Duiker (also called Gray Duiker or Bush Duiker)
- Red Forest Duiker (also called Red Duiker, Natal Duiker or Natal Red Duiker)
- Cape Grysbok (also called Southern Grysbok)
- Sharp’s Grysbok (also called Northern Grysbok)
- Steenbok (also known as Steinbuck or Steinbok)
These antelope are really small; often they are referred to as pygmy antelope. For example, a mature Damara dik-dik is only about 30–40 centimetres at the shoulder and weighs only 3–6 kilograms. Tiny.
Yet all these pygmy antelope have horns.
They are also said to be a challenge to hunt.
During my hunt in Namibia, I saw Damara dik-diks, steenboks and duiker (I don’t know which species I saw). A couple of my hunting partners saw a klipspringer one day. One dik-dik – the one in the photo – was supposedly a real trophy, as was one of the steenboks I saw and photographed.
They are certainly interesting and it was great to see them.
But like The Big Five, hunting The Tiny Ten isn’t a goal for me.
I am glad I saw a number of them, and would certainly like to see all of them. Maybe that’s my quest.