Most individuals heading out on an African safari could have a reasonably conventional checklist of animals in thoughts that they’re hoping to see. However in the event you dig a bit deeper, search a bit tougher, look a bit longer, possibly you’ll spot one thing a bit completely different. Discovering one in every of these not-often-seen animals can actually make your safari additional particular.
1. Black Rhino: Etosha Nationwide Park, Namibia
The black rhino is the rarer and smaller of Africa’s two rhino species, although it’s nonetheless a quite imposing animal, with its tank-like physique and two deadly horns and may nonetheless develop to a powerful top of 6 ft on the shoulder — which isn’t small in any respect! As soon as discovered throughout Southern and East Africa, the black rhino is now thought-about critically endangered, with fewer than 5,000 left within the wild.
It’s generally identified that rhinos are hunted for his or her horns. Historically used for ceremonial dagger handles within the Center East (a commerce banned in 1982), or in conventional Asian drugs, as a “treatment” for quite a lot of illnesses. But, there may be nothing magical concerning the composition of rhino horn; it’s nearly fully comprised of keratin, the identical as our fingernails and hair. Regardless of this, a kilo of rhino horn trades at round $25,000 per pound on the black market. Having two horns that may develop as a lot as 3 inches a 12 months and have been identified to develop to five ft in size, the black rhino has lengthy been a goal for hunters and poachers.
Black rhinos happen in solely a handful of protected areas in east and southern Africa. My most memorable black rhino encounters have been in Zambia’s North Luangwa Nationwide Park, the place the North Luangwa Conservation Programme, in 2003, reintroduced black rhinos to the park. I used to be fortunate sufficient to see the primary black rhinos of their holding enclosure shortly earlier than they have been launched, and within the intervening years, I’ve been again many instances to comply with their progress. Although a hit story for black rhino reintroduction, North Luangwa will not be one of the best place to go to see these fabulous creatures within the wild. The roads are few, the bush is thick, and a few components of the park are all however unreachable for guests. A extra really useful place to see the black rhino is Etosha Nationwide Park in Namibia, one other rhino conservation success story. It has a thriving black rhino inhabitants rather more accessible to guests.
Enjoyable Info About Black Rhino
- Black rhinos could look cumbersome, however they will run as much as 35 miles an hour, activate the spot, and wield their horn with such dexterity that they will strike a tennis ball thrown in direction of them.
- African rhinos don’t have tooth on the entrance of their mouths; they depend on their lips to pluck vegetation from bushes and bushes.
2. Desert-Tailored Elephants: Namib Desert, Namibia
Desert elephants or desert-adapted elephants should not a definite species of elephant however are African bush elephants which have made their properties within the Namib and Sahara deserts in Africa. Desert-dwelling elephants have been as soon as extra widespread in Africa however at the moment are solely present in Namibia and Mali. They have a tendency emigrate from one waterhole to a different, following conventional routes that rely on the seasonal availability of meals and water.
Whereas they is probably not a separate species or subspecies, desert elephants are uniquely tailored to their arid environments. They’ve thinner our bodies and wider ft than different African Elephants, permitting them to stroll with extra ease throughout the very tender desert sand, an adaptation that’s helpful when you think about that these elephants have been identified to journey as much as 125 miles searching for water. Desert elephants even have barely longer trunks than different African elephants, permitting them to dig down into the sand searching for water underground.
Desert-adapted elephants are present in solely two areas on the earth: in Mali and the northern reaches of Namibia. One of the best place to go is Namibia; yow will discover them alongside the dry riverbeds of Kaololand and Damaraland.
Enjoyable Info About Desert-Tailored Elephants
- Desert elephants have quite a lot of distinctive behaviors shared by no different African elephants, together with digging wells to purify their ingesting water.
- These elephants solely drink water each 3 to 4 days, which is an enormous discount when evaluating them to the elephants in Namibia’s Etosha Nationwide Park that drink as much as 45 gallons of water per day.
3. Pangolin: Serengeti Nationwide Park, Tanzania
The pangolin is a scaly, ant-eating mammal and a secretive, nocturnal, and elusive creature. Additionally it is sadly probably the most globally trafficked mammal. Pangolin scales are utilized in conventional Chinese language and African medicines, and their meat is prized in some areas as a delicacy. Rising demand for these seemingly legendary creatures has positioned it on a listing heading towards extinction.
A pangolin’s different distinguishing characteristic is its unimaginable tongue, which, when totally prolonged, could be as much as 16 inches, longer than its whole physique! A sticky saliva coats their tongues, serving to with catching bugs, which is simply in addition to a single pangolin can devour greater than 70 million bugs a 12 months!
Pangolins are onerous to identify within the wild as a result of they’re each nocturnal and uncommon. They’re one of many trickiest animals to see on safari. Regardless of years of wanting, I’ve solely as soon as seen a pangolin, and it was one which had been rescued from poachers and was being launched again into the wild within the Kafue Nationwide Park, Zambia. Although tough to search out, one of the best place to see a pangolin within the wild is in its pure habitat, and the Serengeti Nationwide Park in Tanzania is an efficient place to start out.
Enjoyable Info About Pangolins
- They’re the one mammals wholly-covered in scales, that are fabricated from keratin and account for as much as 20 p.c of the animal’s whole physique weight. They use these scales to guard themselves from predators within the wild. When below menace, a pangolin curls into a good ball and makes use of its sharp-scaled tail to defend itself.
- Child pangolins journey round with their moms by hitching a experience on the bottom of her tail.
For some perception into the devastating commerce in pangolins, watch Eye of the Pangolin on YouTube. Or, for a extra lighthearted have a look at a pangolin eating, try this video from National Geographic.
4. Mountain Gorilla: Volcanoes Nationwide Park, Democratic Republic Of Congo
A lot of it’s possible you’ll be accustomed to the film, Gorillas within the Mist, about American wildlife knowledgeable Dian Fossey’s time learning and defending the Mountain gorillas of Rwanda and Uganda. A lot of it’s possible you’ll be impressed to comply with in her footsteps and see these fascinating creatures for yourselves.
Mountain gorillas are a subspecies of the jap gorilla. They’re listed as endangered, with solely about 1,063 nonetheless left within the wild. Round half of those are discovered within the Virunga Mountains, a variety of extinct volcanoes that borders the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, and Uganda. The remaining inhabitants could be discovered within the Bwindi Impenetrable Nationwide Park in Uganda.
As their title implies, mountain gorillas dwell in forests excessive within the mountains at elevations of as much as 13,000 ft. They’ve thick fur to assist them survive in a habitat the place temperatures usually drop beneath freezing. As people have moved an increasing number of into the gorillas’ territory, the gorillas have been pushed farther up into the mountains, forcing them to endure harmful and typically lethal circumstances.
Given their location, seeing mountain gorillas within the wild is not any small feat and entails some strenuous and prolonged mountaineering in some very difficult circumstances. Not a visit for the faint-hearted.
Enjoyable Info About Mountain Gorillas
- After almost 9 months of gestation, infants enter the world weighing solely 4 kilos. Regardless of starting life so small, grownup males sometimes weigh 430 kilos and may stand 5 ft tall.
- Within the wild, gorillas can dwell to over 40 years previous.
Netflix’s Virunga is an Oscar-nominated true story concerning the rangers who threat their lives to avoid wasting endangered mountain gorillas.
5. Bat-Eared Fox: Central Kalahari Recreation Reserve, Botswana
Bat-eared foxes are one in every of Africa’s most exceptional species and are a particular sight on an African safari. These are, in reality, a few of my favourite African animals, and I can fortunately spend hours of their firm.
Whereas the physique of this diminutive fox could also be small, their ears develop to over 5 inches tall! Certainly their ears could make up a 3rd of a bat-eared fox’s top! In fact, monumental ears give the bat-eared fox an unimaginable sense of listening to. Not solely do these foxes decide up the sounds of the savannah, however they will additionally hear bugs shifting underground. Bat-eared foxes are nocturnal, spending a lot of the day resting in burrows earlier than rising after darkish to forage and hunt.
Classed as a predator, bat-eared foxes are a lot too small to hunt antelope or different mammals, their eating desire being as an alternative bugs. Termites make up 70 p.c of a bat-eared fox’s weight loss plan, with the addition of quite a lot of different tasty treats, together with dung beetles, grasshoppers, scorpions, millipedes, and spiders. To catch its dinner, the bat-eared fox forages, with its ears pointed in direction of the bottom, till it hears its prey shifting beneath the floor. Once they sense dinner is close to, the fox will cease, hear, and dig!
Though these small predators are frequent in a number of African international locations, their small measurement and nocturnal habits should not conducive to straightforward safari sightings. My favourite place to see bat-eared fox is the Central Kalahari Recreation Reserve in Botswana, the place I’ve seen many, each adults and their tiny kits (infants). Late afternoon and nighttime sport drives are a very good exercise in the event you want to discover them. One good factor to recollect is that bat-eared foxes are extremely social, so in the event you spot one, maintain your eye out for extra!
Enjoyable Info About Bat-Eared Foxes
- Bat-eared foxes have extra tooth than any of their canine cousins. The truth is, they’ve extra tooth than nearly some other mammal — 46 to 50 in whole.
- They seldom drink water, acquiring a lot of the moisture they want from their meals.
- The male bat-eared fox undertakes most parental duties, whereas the feminine forages for meals to take care of her milk manufacturing.
Africa is an unimaginable continent, with a large and diverse array of fascinating wildlife. It’s value taking the time to essentially discover, as you by no means know what wonders it’s possible you’ll discover and what encounters you could have that you simply’ll treasure for a lifetime.