Have you ticked the African Safari off of your bucket list? More than likely, you also made a mental note every time that you encountered another one of the Big Five and gave your knowledgeable guide a high five when you found the last elusive creature. While lions, elephant, Cape Buffalo, leopard and rhino make up the Big Five, there are plenty of other animals that make for exciting wildlife sightings.
We’ve all heard the term “a face only a mother could love”, and this is undoubtedly the case for the Ugly Five African animals. Luckily these beasts won’t have hurt feelings to discover that their filthy mug has become famous for being dreadful. We’re going to explain about the underdogs of the African kingdom that may not be attractive but are most defiantly fascinating.
What are the Ugly Five African animals?
There are five lesser-loved animals that make people shudder with their eye-catching bad looks. The Ugly Five are animals include:
- Marabou Stork
Disney managed to make one of the ugliest animals in Africa into one of the most beloved. Children worldwide know of Pumbaa long before they ever get the chance to see a warthog in real life. This member of the pig family gets its name from the immense wart-like growths on the side of its face.
They may be in the Ugly Five, but we can’t think of anything cuter than a line of little warthogs running after their mother with their tails up in the air. While you won’t see a warthog singing with a meerkat, they are still a common sighting in Zambian parks.
Again, we can thank Disney for making hyenas famous in parts of the world that will never hear their devious laughter. Hyenas are certainly not cute, and their greedy, sneaky, conniving behaviour has made them a feared creature in African stories and folklore. However, they play an essential role in the food chain and have a fascinating hierarchical social structure.
When thinking of what evil would look like in the form of a bird, the foreboding figure of a Marabou Stork instantly comes to mind. This bird can reach up to five feet in height, and the hunched stature makes it appear to always be up to no good. Known as ‘The undertaker bird’ or ‘death stork’, this foreboding creature easily earns its place on the Ugly Five list. Moreover, since they are often seen picking through rubbish tips or gorging on rotting carcasses, it is easy to see why people find them grotesque.
Circling vultures personify death and malicious opportunities. Any creature living on a diet of rotting flesh and blood would likely be seen as evil; however, the hunched frame and menacing look of the vulture solidify their place on the Ugly Five list. Despite their intimidating appearance, they provide a much-needed service cleaning up the Zambian parks of carcasses, limiting the spread of disease.
Wildebeest are famous for their migrations and herd mentality. Often the butt of jokes for their FOMO mentality, the wildebeest gets a bad rap for being on the lower end of the wildlife IQ scale. They aren’t the ugliest beast on the Ugly Five list, but they do have the appearance of a few different left-over animal parts stuck together.
Do children like going on safari?
Most children love going on an African safari. Livingstone is an ideal starting point for an African trip with children since there is such a diverse range of child-friendly things to do. If you are planning to go on safari with children, then we recommend booking a private game drive so that you can go at your own pace. Consider bringing books like The Ugly Five by Julia Donaldson along for the ride.
Are the Ugly Five animals found in Zambia?
You can find all of the Ugly Five in Zambian parks. The Mosi-oa-tunya National Park, located on the outskirts of Livingstone, Zambia, is home to all of the Ugly Five, including warthogs, hyena, marabou storks, vultures, and wildebeest. There are a few upmarket accommodation options found within the national park and many more budget-friendly options located within Livingstone.
How can I see the Ugly Five?
If you would like to see the Ugly Five for yourself, you can go on safari in the Mosi-oa-tunya National Park in Livingstone, Zambia. Speak to your accommodation provider or agent about booking onto a Zambezi River cruise, game drive or walking safari, where you will have a high chance of ticking these animals off of your bucket list.