April 18

6 Rare Animals You Will Be Lucky To See On Safari


April 18, 2017

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 

The rare pangolin is a treat to see
Photo credit: David Brossard

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 Kalahari Game Reserve in the Namibia.

2. The Aardvark

The rare aardvark is delightful to watch

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 rarest animals to see
Photo credit: Hans Stieglitz

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. The Wildlife ACT is working tirelessly to save these species so that you may get to see them in the wild. In South Africa you can be lucky to see Black Rhino at the Kruger National Park and surrounding private reserves and stay at luxurious lodges, such as Silvan Safari Lodge.

4. The Honey Badger

A rare honey badger hisses
Photo credit: Matěj Baťha

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 within the Kalahari region to see such a sight.

5. The Wild Dog

Wild dogs hunt in packs

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. In Botswana, King’s Pool Camp is a great place to see wild dogs hunting within the Linyanti Wildlife Reserve.

6. The Serval

A rare serval camouflages well into its natural habitat
Photo credit: Hans Hillewaert

The serval, also known as the “bush cat”, is one of the lesser-known wild 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. You can see these cats at Lion Sands Private Game Reserve in South Africa.

Have you ever seen these rare animals of safari?


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About the author 

Matthew McGregor

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.

  • 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.

  • I am in love with the honey badger and the wild dog. Would love to come across one of these amazing creatures in a safari.

  • Excellent read. Just going through our list of what wildlife we saw in South Africa (Kruger&Hluhluwe) in October. I was trying to find out which ones were the most difficult to find/spot. From this list, we have the African Wild Dog only, but we did spend 30 minutes in Hluhluwe alone (no other vehicles) with a pack of 12 (3 adults). Amazing. In Kruger we were lucky enough to spot civets, genets, porcupine and African Wild Cat on a night drive. Also a dusk spotting of a side striped jackal.

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