by Jessica Bothma on February 20, 2018
3 min read

Africa is teeming with iconic wildlife and we couldn’t be more proud of showing off to everyone – EVEN the animals given the endearing moniker of  ‘Ugly Five‘. Despite their quirky looks, these guys are full of personality! We have rounded up our best pictures to show you a glimpse of the Ugly Five in their natural habitat.

1.  The Ugly Five: Wildebeest

Well known for their stampedes in Disney movies, these herd creatures look curious up close with their skinny legs and long faces that might as well be the butt of dad jokes. Their sheer numbers are truly impressive to witness, though, especially on the annual Great Migration, which takes place across Kenya‘s Maasai Mara and Tanzania‘s Serengeti National Park.

group of wildebeest walking towards the camera

Curious wildebeests approaching

Wildebeest at the shore of Mara River

Herds of wildebeest prepare to cross the Mara River

Herds of wildebeest close up emerging from Mara River

Wildebeests emerging from the Mara River

2. The Ugly Five: Vulture

Bald and armed with sharp talons and beaks, vultures are the good guys misjudged as villains. Their lifestyle is ironic – they deal with carcasses and unpleasant sights to keep Africa’s savannahs hygienic. To watch them descend upon unfortunate limbs and compete with hyenas can be strangely entertaining and gripping.

The vultures, center vulture with wings spread, claiming for a piece of carcass

Trio of vultures claim stakes on a piece of carcass

Two vultures in long grass, facing opposite directions

Two vultures keep a sharp eye out

3. The Ugly Five: Hyena

Spotted and roughed up, these carnivores are famous for their ghoulish “laughter” and savage stalking. Interestingly, their “laughter” actually shows social ranking. Beyoncé would be very proud to know that female hyenas rule their world with such dedication and organisation.

hyena running towards two vultures in flight

A spotted hyena chases vultures away

Spotted hyena cub lying down in shade

Spotted hyena cub keeping cool in the shade

spotted hyena adult napping in shade

Rugged and resting; a spotted hyena naps while a cub peers out

4. The Ugly Five: Warthog 

Pumba’s little piggies are full of personality and can be spotted zig-zagging through the grass. They are actually sneaky, too, because they steal dens dug by aardvarks and other small mammals to provide shelter for their piglets. When they eat, they usually “kneel” on their front wrists (ouch?) to reveal the best and juiciest grasses.

warthog piglet kneeling on front writst

A small piglet “kneels” on its front wrists

four warthogs with tails raised running through grass

A “sounding” of warthogs with tails up

5. The Ugly Five: Marabou Stork

Surprisingly tall for its stooped posture, these storks are actually majestic in flight with an impressive wingspan of about 2.6 metres. To add to their list of deceiving looks, their long, white legs are, in fact, covered with their excrement to regulate temperatures.  They can look intimidating and sound scary too with their croaking and snapping beaks.

One Marabou Stork open beak, flock of vultures around

Marabou Stork gives vultures a lecture

These are Africa’s Ugly Five – remarkable in their own way and sometimes sweet too. What do you think?

Do you have any favourite pictures of the Ugly Five to share with us? We would love to see!