It’s easy to get the impression that the animals that dominate African landscapes are mostly large grazers and predators. But a closer look reveals that the savannas and forests of Gorongosa are filled with thousands of species of smaller animals – insects, spiders, lizards and frogs – whose role in these ecosystems may be even more important than that of their larger cousins. These tiny animals often go unnoticed, or are sometimes perceived as a nuisance. But without them, life on the plains of Gorongosa would be very difficult, if not impossible.
It’s thanks to insects and other small creatures that plants get pollinated, soils are made more fertile, water in rivers is filtered, disease-carrying pests are kept in check, and baby birds get fed. These small animals also provide similar, invaluable services to farms surrounding Gorongosa. With the exception of the malaria-carrying mosquito, virtually none of Gorongosa's smaller organisms pose any risk to humans. Rather, we should appreciate them for their beauty and value to the natural world.
The true diversity of Gorongosa's micro world is still a mystery, and the exact numbers of species of insects, spiders, or frogs living in the Park are unknown. But each day brings new discoveries: recently, scientists have confirmed that at least 200 species of ants live in Gorongosa, and some of these can be found nowhere else in the world. The diversity of grasshoppers, praying mantids, beetles, and frogs are similarly rich. It’s possible that the diverse ecosystems of Gorongosa National Park are home to at least 50,000 species of insects and other small animals.