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The Big 5 Africa: The Ugly 5, The Shy 5, and The Small 5 Animals of Africa


While the Big 5 – the African Elephant, Cape Buffalo, Lion, Black Rhino, and Leopard – are a must-see for anybody going on safari in Africa, there are many more magnificent safari animals in Africa as well.

Just in the renowned Greater Kruger National Park in South Africa, there are over 500 species of birds, about 150 species of mammals, and under 120 species of reptiles.

Therefore, it’s not surprising that some creative individuals have created numerous other top-5 lists of African animals.

These include the “Ugly 5 Animals,” who can only be adored by their moms, the “Shy 5 Animals,” whose introverted personalities make it difficult to notice them, and the “Small 5 Animals,” whose names are similar to the Big 5 of Africa but whose sizes are very different.

We love all the animals of Africa, therefore we’ve listed (and shown) you some of the amazing tiny, unattractive, and timid ones below.

When going on safari, they are definitely worth adding to your list of “African Animals to Spot.”

The Big 5 Africa: The Ugly 5, The Shy 5, and The Small 5 Animals of Africa

The 5 Ugly African Animals

Although these animal species are hardly the supermodels of the African wilderness, they make up for it by being fascinating.

  1. Warthog
  2. Wildebeest
  3. Vulture
  4. Marsh stork
  5. Hyena

1. Warthogs

In Southern Africa, you may find warthogs, with bodies covered in coarse hair, two sets of tusks, and bags under their eyes. They frequently root about near camps.

They are entertaining to watch as they snuffle around for food while squatting on their front legs or trotting around with their tails high up in the air. Don’t be fooled by their cuteness, though; they have a charming, symbiotic connection with some of their African counterparts and can be violent if pushed.

2. Wildebeest

The largest and most distinguishing characteristic of wildebeest is their enormous spiral horns, which begin between their ears, and grow backward before turning outward and forward, giving them the appearance of having a halo. If they looked like angels, that might work, but they don’t.

We can not, however, dispute that they are magnificent creatures, and if you are fortunate enough to witness a migratory herd, which can number in the thousands, it is a fairly amazing sight.

Also Read: The Wildebeest Migration’ the Great Migration of Africa: What, When and Where

The Wildebeest Migration’ the Great Migration of Africa: What, When and Where – Africa Facts Zone

3. Vulture

Vultures have a poor reputation, most likely as a result of their violent scavenging tendencies. You may be certain that there has been a kill below if you see a swarm of vultures circling high over the African jungle.

Although there are many different kinds of vultures, humans entering their ecosystem with poison in hand puts these birds at genuine risk of going extinct.

Wonderful initiatives have been launched by birdlife to rescue these unique creatures:

4. Marsh Stork

These guys have enormous wingspans, up to 2.6 meters. It’s hardly shocking that they are on the Ugly 5 list because they have, um, not-so-pretty faces.

They have a large conical beak, a hairless head, and red spots on it.

Interestingly, marabou storks have hollow leg and toe bones, which is a cunning strategy to ensure that they are light enough to fly despite their size.

5. Hyena

Hyenas have characteristic laugh-like sounds, sloping backs, and a generally untidy appearance. Contrary to popular belief, hyenas are excellent nocturnal hunters in addition to being pure scavengers.

Unbelievably courageous and unattractive as they are, hyenas sometimes risk their lives while attempting to steal meals from large predators like lions.

Also Read: Tippi Degre – the girl who grew up with wildlife in Namibia

Tippi Degre: The Young White Girl Who Grew up with Wildlife in Namibia

The 5 Shy African Animals

If you spot any of these African creatures, you’re in for a treat because they are famously shy and will go out of their way to avoid you.

  1. Porcupine
  2. Bat-eared fox
  3. Aardvark
  4. Meerkat
  5. Aardwolf

1. Porcupine

Though attractive, porcupines are spiky. And we really do mean that. Sharp quills that may be up to 50 cm long and are black and white cover the whole back of a porcupine.

The porcupine will turn away from danger if provoked and raise its quills. Despite being a leopard:

Because they spend much of their time at night, porcupines can occasionally be seen snooping around on night drives.

2. Bat-eared fox

These adorable little critters, who are primarily nocturnal and have large erect ears and tiny snouts, secure their solitude.

They are experts at disguising themselves, and when they sense danger, they lie down in tall grass or dense brush, where their coloring makes them totally invisible.

Another reason they’re difficult to detect is their little size; they often stand just 30 cm tall and weigh between 3 and 5 kg.

3. Aardvark

With their long noses and adorable erect ears, these critters surely be among the Shy 5’s prettiest creatures. Aardvarks have a kangaroo-like appearance.

They have an arched back and a long, tapering tail, and their coarse, grey-brown fur shields them from bug bites.

Aardvarks spend the day sleeping in their burrows, curled up tightly. At night, they emerge to search for termites and other insects.

4. Meerkat

Although there are battalions of habituated meerkats that are interesting and fascinating to watch, they have very well-honed senses and, in their native environment, will leave well before a person can come anywhere near them.

Despite this, this species is sometimes questioned as being a “shy” one.

They are recognized for their standing position, typically in groups, to assess their environment (and you, if you’re fortunate enough to be in their vicinity). They are slender-tailed and frequently striped.

5. Aardwolf

Aardwolves are also typically nocturnal and tiny, with heights of only 45 cm. They are a kind of hyena, however unlike their rather less attractive cousins, they eat termites. In one night, they may consume up to 300,000 termites!

They are lonely animals that only associate with other aardwolves to breed and raise offspring because they must consume enormous quantities of termites.

Also Read: Top Wild Animals in Africa

Top Wild Animals in Africa – Africa Facts Africa

The Small 5 Animals of Africa

These five creatures are not inherently shy, but because they tend to be little, they can nonetheless be difficult to spot. Each of them is named after one of the prestigious Big 5.

  1. Elephant shrew

2. Leopard tortoise

3. Ant lion

4. Rhino beetle

5. Buffalo weaver

1. Elephant shrew

The elephant shrew, which resembles a little mouse but has a very large snout and trunk, is arguably the prettiest of the five tiny creatures.

You’re really fortunate to observe one of them in the wild considering that it measures little over 25 cm, not including its tail, which is longer than its head and body.

They inhabit locations with rocky outcrops that offer niches where they may take cover and are as swift as lightning.

2. Leopard tortoise

The word “leopard tortoise” conjures up visions of a cat stalking. Despite this, these sluggish reptiles don’t accomplish anything of the type.

The “leopard” component of its name refers to their shells’ distinctive black markings on a yellow background

They are kind critters who consume plants for snacks. They will occasionally gnaw on a bone to obtain the vital calcium.

Also Read: Fun Facts on Leopards: Habits, Diet and Other Facts

Fun Facts on Leopards: Habits, Diet and Other Facts

3. Ant Lion

With a name like “ant lion,” one may assume that these insects are big and aggressive, similar to the leopard tortoise.

Although they are quite little, they may be aggressive when they are larvae. However, only if you’re an ant because the larvae create distinctive small conical traps that the ants fall into.

Due to their transparent wings and slender bodies, adult ant lions that have undergone metamorphosis are sometimes mistaken for dragonflies. Typically, they fly during the night.

4. Rhino beetle

The rhino beetle is a hardy little insect that has a good chance of making the list of the ugly five.

Despite their intimidating appearance, they are entirely harmless to people as they neither bite nor sting. In fact, because of their size, they aren’t even particularly effective fliers.

The only time rhino beetles fight is when the females are vying for their attention. Sounds recognizable.

Also Read: Black Footed Cat Africa – The World’s Smallest and Deadliest Wild Cat Species

Black Footed Cat Africa – The World’s Smallest and Deadliest Wild Cat Species

5. Buffalo weaver

The primary distinction between the red-billed and white-billed buffalo weavers is, surprise!, the color of their bills. They are social beings and build colony-style nests that contain many birds in distinct “compartments.”

Derek Keats recording of a Red-Billed Buffalo Weaver chirping

Buffalo weavers pursue their food on the ground because they eat insects like grasshoppers and ants.


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