Last time we took a look at the more famous groups of animals that can be found throughout the Kruger National Park, such as the Magnificent Seven, the Small Five and the biggest and baddest of them all, the Big 5. Today, we will look at a few more wildlife groups that roam our National reserves, not just the Kruger National Park but other parts of South Africa:
#4 The ugly 5
Though these five aren’t exactly cute or attractive to the eye, they make up for it as you learn how interesting and unique each of these animals are:
#1 Warthog: Known as Pumba from the movie The Lion King, they are often seen on the African plains and open sandy areas. These animals often fall prey to Leopards and Lions. With bags under their eyes, coarse-haired bodies and tusks on either side of its snout, they can be rather vicious and dangerous. They are very interesting to observe as they kneel on their front legs snuffing about looking for food or trotting around with their tails in the air. They can be found all throughout the Kruger National Park and other reserves.
#2 Wildebeest: Often migrating in large herds, their most distinctive feature is their curled horns that look similar to a buffalo at a distance but smaller. They are a very common sight in the African wild so I’m sure you will certainly come across a few groups of them.
#3 Vulture: One of the main scavengers of the wild with their featherless necks and heads. Their blood thirsty scavenging has earned them a bad reputation since there’s a good chance of a fresh kill nearby once you see them circling above or gathering together on a tree. A common sight in the park is vultures circling above in the distance, alerting nearby predators and rangers.
#4 Hyena: Though considered scavengers by many, these animals are actually very good, nocturnal, hunters. With their sloped backs and distinct laugh-like chuckles, they are known to take big risks, especially with a fresh lion kill. There seems to be a rivalry often seen between Lions and Hyenas as they steal each other’s kills and even battle it out. We often find them resting during the day, especially the mornings and on the move once night falls.
#5 Marabou Stork: Probably one of the most not-so-pretty birds that can be found in South Africa, they are one of the largest with a wingspan reaching 2.6m. They have a large conical bill with a bald, red-spotted, head. Despite their size, they can fly and are often seen around areas with a body of water.
#5 The Shy 5:
A group that is notoriously shy and bashful, you’ll be considered very lucky to see any of these animals in the wild. The best chance to see some of them in the wild, would be when night falls and their eyes reflect in the light.
#1 Porcupine: An animal whose entire back is covered in large, black and white, quills that can reach up to 50cm but often considered to be cute. They are mostly nocturnal, so the best chance to see them is on a night drive. Once challenged, the porcupine will turn its rear, pointing it at the attacker as it raises it’s quills, ready to pierce whatever tries to take a bite out of it. Leopards are known to try their luck and though sometimes successful, are often seen with quills piecing their skin.
#2 Aardvark: These creatures have a long, tapered tail, arched back and a coarse grey-brown coat that protects them from insects. They are certainly one of the cutest members of the group. Almost never seen during the day, Aardvarks sleep curled up into a tight ball in their burrows and only come out at night when they’re on the prowl for insects.
#3 Bat-eared Fox: Another nocturnal cutey. A very sweet little animal with their huge upright ears, narrow snouts and bushy fur. They are masters of camouflage and disguise due to their size and colouring as they lie down in tall grass or thick bush when in danger, perfectly disguising themselves.
#4 Meerkat: Having slender tails and often seen standing upright on their hind legs, we have Pumbaa’s dear friend, Timon. Seen as being curious a lot of the time, they tend to disappear way before any human can get anywhere near. They have amazingly well-honed senses and take turns to stand sentry on vantage points where they can watch for predators, such as eagles. Sadly, there are very few national parks where you can see them. The only places where you get to see these entertaining creatures in South Africa , is Tswalu Kalahari Reserve, found in the Northern Cape, and Addo Elephant National Park, found in the Eastern Cape.
#5 Aardwolf: Both solitary and nocturnal, they are smaller in size compared to their infamous cousins, the Hyena. Their diet consists of Termites and they can lap up as many as 250 000 in one night with their long, sticky tongues, which is why they scour the night alone.
#5 The Big 7
Lastly we have the Big 7 which is a relatively new concept. This group not only consist of the biggest names in South Africa, the Big 5, but also two giants found around South Africa’s bustling coastline. Our two new entries are:
#1 Great White Shark: The most famous underwater predator in the world, king of the ocean and a permanent resident of South Africa’s coastline. They can be found in the Eastern Cape and are at the top of the food chain though sometimes fall prey to larger Great White Sharks and Orcas.
#2 Southern Right Whale: Distinguished by the broad back and lack of a dorsal fin, these slow and massive creatures and playful in nature and sometimes curious. They are often spotted from land, breaching the water surface and if you manage to enjoy a boat tour, you’ll have a closer look at how these animals interact with one another. Whale season runs from June to October where mothers spend many hours teaching the calves the skills they need before heading to the Antarctic.
Thank you very much for taking the time to read my work. I hope that I have given fellow wildlife lovers some new fascinating and captivating groups of wildlife to look out for during your adventure in South Africa. We at Nhongo Safaris look forward to sharing with you our absolute passion and knowledge for our beautiful wildlife.