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The celebrities of the African bush must be the Big 5, and they are what everybody wants and expects to see when they plan and book a safari, we get that. However, aside from these five animals, the African continent has over 1,100 species of mammals and over 2,600 species of birds.
Now, of all these different species, which animals would you be luckiest to see? We asked some of our friends in the guiding business and have received a list of these rare and thrilling animals. You will have to be incredibly lucky to see one of these beautiful creatures in the many African game reserves.
So, let’s begin…
1. The Pangolin
What’s a Pangolin? Well, this is a scaly, ant-eating mammal and is the most hunted animal in the world. They are private, nocturnal, and highly secretive, which has resulted in the many mysteries that still remain about their behaviour and habits. Quite strangely, pangolins do not have teeth and therefore cannot chew. Instead, they have long, sticky tongues, keratin spikes in their stomach and they swallow rocks to help with the grinding down of their food. Many game rangers say that seeing one of these on a game drive is their dream sighting! The best place to see them is in the Tswalu Game Reserve in the Kalahari.
2. The Aardvark
Aardvarks are definitely one of the strangest looking animals out there. They look a little like pigs with rabbit-like ears and a kangaroo’s tail. They can be found anywhere in Africa that is south of the Sahara and are solitary and nocturnal animals, only coming together to mate. They dig in ant and termite mounds in search of their food. Much like the pangolin, aardvarks don’t chew their food, and rather swallow it whole. They can eat up to 50,000 insects a night. If you want to see one of these bizarre creatures, Kwandwe Game Reserve is the place you want to be.
3. The Black Rhino
The black rhino is one of the most majestic and beautiful animals to come across on safari. However, they are critically endangered, with only 5,000 individuals remaining in the wild. Did you know that they are the fastest rhino species, reaching top speeds of 55km/h? Didn’t think so. Their eyesight is poor but they make up for it with excellent smell and hearing. Social advertising is important to black rhinos as they make use of dung piles or middens by spraying them with urine to mark their range.
4. The Honey Badger
Known as the world’s most fearless creature, honey badgers have a reputation for taking on cobras, lions and other animals that are much larger than themselves. The skunk-like honey badger is not at all threatened in the wild, but is still an extremely rare sighting for a safari. These creatures have been known to ‘dig like crazy’ as they use their long claws to dig burrows to rest in. The surface of their skin is so thick that there have been reports of arrows and spears glancing off of it! They are incredibly nifty and fierce, and seeing one of them would be something you will never forget, especially if in action! Most game rangers would recommend dry places like the Timbavati or the Kalahari to see such a sight.
5. The Wild Dog
Wild dogs are notoriously social and live in packs with distinct hierarchies. These packs once consisted of over 200 dogs, but today a large pack is closer to around 40 dogs. They are known as Africa’s most effective hunters due to their smart hunting tactics, constant communication and size of packs they hunt in. These animals are nomadic and known to traverse up to 50km in one day, resulting in territories that are anywhere between 400 and 1,500 square kilometres.
6. The Serval
The serval, also known as the “bush cat”, is one of the lesser known cats of Africa and is often mistaken for a leopard or a cheetah. It’s an agile, spotted animal that has long legs allowing them to jump up to three metres to catch birds and large flying insects. Incredible, right? These cats also have the largest ears of any cat, enabling them to use echo location to pick up the vibrations of their prey. Servals can occupy a variety of habitats across Sub-Saharan Africa as long as they are close to water sources.
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Sports Fanatic and everything is made better with a beer with friends while watching my favourite team play. I play cricket as a hobby and I am just as passionate about the wildlife and bush as I consider it a second home.
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Stunning read, you are so right. But have to say as a family with two kids working in the bush we appreciate every animal and so love the birds to. Look forward to more interesting articles from u,well done.
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