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Africa Geographic
Wildlife . People . Travel

Africa has many animals that are considered strange but the following five are very unusual. If you do spot any of these animals on safari consider yourself very lucky and take lots of photographs.

1. Wild dog or painted dog


This animal is the only member of Lycaon classification in the world. Wild dogs are extremely efficient hunters with a far higher kill rate than any other predator. The markings on each dog are unique which makes identifying individuals very easy. One of their most unusual behaviours is the habit of vomiting food to feed other members of the pack; this is an act of bonding as well as a source of nutrition. The pups are always fed first, which is very unusual predator behaviour. They hunt in groups, chasing their prey for many miles till the intended victim collapses in exhaustion. They are highly social animals and live in large packs. They have few natural predators but their numbers are sadly declining as their habit is being destroyed and they are hunted by farmers. Your best chance of seeing wild dogs will be on an early morning game drive.

2. Pangolin

© Wikimedia/David Brossard
© Wikimedia/David Brossard

This armour-plated mammal is one of the rarest animals in Africa. Their diet consists of ants and termites. When threatened they roll up into a tight ball which hides their vulnerable stomach and head. They normally walk around all fours but will stand up and run on their hind feet for speed. You are most likely to see these animals during the cooler hours of the day.

3. Bushbaby

© Simon Espley
© Simon Espley

These adorable creatures are more often heard than seen with their baby-like cries filling the night, and you can easily identify them by their large quizzical eyes. The lesser bushbaby/galago (featured above) is the smallest primate in Africa. Bushbabies live on a diet of insects and gum from certain trees. You are most likely to see them late at night at camp.

4. Porcupine

© Flickr/Matt Francey
© Flickr/Matt Francey

The African porcupine is nothing like a cute hedgehog. These are large, ferocious creatures that will very effectively defend themselves against a pride of lions. They can weigh up to 16kg and reach a length of 1 metre. Porcupines survive on a diet that is mostly vegetarian but they have been witnessed eating carrion. They are mostly solitary but can be seen in small family groups. African porcupines are nocturnal animals so your best chance of seeing one is on a night drive.

5. Honey badger


Commonly referred to in South Africa by the Afrikaans name of ratel. This is one of Africa’s most violent animals, with recorded attacks on lions, buffalos and humans. They will attack anything if they feel even vaguely threatened and their powerful bite will even stop a lion. In a fight the honey badger will keep going long after its opponent tires and they will often wear out much larger animals. Honey badgers are a primarily carnivorous species. They are difficult to spot as they are solitary animals with extensive home ranges. The name honey badger comes from their love of honey and they will often seek out and destroy hives. They have been shown to use sticks, logs and stones as tools to get to honey, making them some of the most intelligent animals on the planet. The will hunt at any time of day but your best chance of seeing them is in the early evening or on a night drive.

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