Many people go on safari to see the “Big 5” made up of elephant, black rhino, buffalo, lion and leopard. The collective term harks back to the days of big game hunting when the Big 5 were acknowledged as the most dangerous animals to hunt. The term has survived into the modern era and still makes an interesting viewing target for visitors. At Willetts we believe safaris should be much more than a quest for these animals and hope to inspire our clients with the desire to learn more about the whole country and appreciate the interactions between many of the smaller animals and their habitat that combine to form the complete ecosystem.

When sitting round a camp fire at night we often have debates about an alternative to the Big 5 and talk about what would make up a Little 5. These discussions have led us to come up with a “Secret 7” safari to try and see a relatively arbitrary selection of large mammal species that provides a focus for some of our clients. The list is made up of animals that are hard to find and, unlike the Big 5, live in a wide variety of habitats, so they can’t all be found in one place.  (We excluded some species that are almost impossible see.) Our Secret 7 can only be applied to Kenya since some of them are more common elsewhere in Africa. In all cases their Kenyan populations are very small and most are only found in a small number of relict habitats such as the Kenyan Highland Forests or the small areas of Coastal Forest that still remain.

Their scarcity means most now only occur in areas where the habitat is protected by the Kenya Wildlife Service, who have gazetted many of these areas with the sole purpose of maintaining  these vestigial populations of rare species. The side benefit is that many of these habitats also support a wide range of rare plant, insect, bird and other animal species so these reserves and parks are always interesting places to visit even if we don’t manage to find the member of the Secret 7 we are looking for.

Sable Antelope   Kenyan population of around 100 individuals found in Shimba Hills 
Gerenuk Small populations scattered across drier regions of northern Kenya towards the Ethiopian and Somali borders
Giant Forest Hog    Only discovered by modern science in 1904
Greater Kudu   Small and isolated populations scattered across parts of northern Kenya   
Sitatunga   About 40 found at Saiwa Swamp and an unknown population in the other swamps of western Kenya 
de Brazza's Monkey  A monkey of the Central African Rain Forests there are a few small populations scattered around Kenya
Roan Antelope   Kenya’s population of about 50 found in Ruma National Park 

The search for the Secret 7 does go against our philosophy which advocates that less is more, since the safari has to take in seven different destinations that are spread right across Kenya and is therefore probably not ideal for people with limited time available. One of the joys of this safari is that it does take people into rarely visited areas and means they will see parts of the country that are well off the normal tourist routes.

The search for the Secret 7 takes people right across Kenya, from the Indian Ocean Coast to the western coast along the shores of Lake Victoria on a journey of great variety and interest. As well as seeing a lot of unusual bird and animal species people will also see most of the animals seen on a more conventional "Big 5" safari.