Apart from the ‘Big 5’ there is a whole host of flora and fauna that can be found whilst out on safari with us. Some are more famous than others, yet all are equally vital in the eco-systems where they thrive.
Below are some descriptions of a variety of the more well-known animals, excluding the ‘Big 5’ with a few ideas on where you can view them in the wild if you book with us.
Also known as the ‘painted wolf’ or the ‘Cape hunting dog’, the African wild dog has recently been pushed into the limelight due to the jaw-dropping episode of Dynasties which aired on the BBC. These dogs have often been viewed as pests in the past and were persecuted by famers all over Africa. With little more than six and a half thousand individuals left in the wild (about two thousand adults), they are Africa’s second most endangered carnivore.
They are one of the most enigmatic characters of Africa and their family devotedness is unlike anything witnessed in the animal kingdom. With so few left, the chances of seeing these marvellous creatures is rather slim, however there are areas where seeing wild dogs occurs frequently; Mana Pools, Zimbabwe is well known for its wild dog population (especially after the Dynasties episode), as is the Okavango Delta, Botswana. The last remaining stronghold for the dogs is in Selous, Tanzania. This reserve has about four and a half thousand individuals left and could be the best place to try and find them.
With a slight build and the only ‘big cat’ cat that cannot roar, the cheetah is often over-looked when people talk about the cats of Africa, focusing mainly on the lion and leopard.
The cheetah is extremely charismatic and is generally found on open plains where its diurnal hunting techniques and lightning quick speed when catching prey can be utilised. In places such as the Serengeti, Tanzania and the Masai Mara, Kenya, some cheetahs have become renown worldwide for their tendency to use cars as look-out posts. Asilia’s Namiri Plains Camp is in the perfect location for stunning cheetah sightings. Certain individuals will regularly climb onto the roof of the game viewer and scout the plains for a suitable dinner option.
Although with less open grassland, South Africa has managed to retain a healthy cheetah population that is thriving in certain areas. Our clients have regularly seen cheetah in Phinda Game Reserve which prides itself on reintroducing endangered species to the area.
To see a crocodile in the wild is like looking back in time. These prehistoric reptiles have some of the most sophisticated anatomy in the animal kingdom.
Although crocodiles can be seen in vast quantities in the majority of destinations where we offer safaris, the biggest and probably the best place to see crocodiles is in the Serengeti, Tanzania or Masai Mara, Kenya. Between July and October the wildebeest herds make their passages across the Mara River and it is at this time of year when the crocodiles are at their most active. They wait patiently, sometimes less than a metre away from their prey and wait for the opportune moment to strike with breath-taking force and speed.
Obviously there is no guarantee that the crocodiles will be active, they generally tend to bask on the river banks for the majority of the day but if you are lucky enough to see some action, you won’t be disappointed.
Exiled from most peoples ‘good books’ because of their portrayal in Disney’s The Lion King,the spotted hyena is one of the most misunderstood African animals.
With a matriarchal hierarchy and a tendency to harass lions, leopards, and cheetahs for food, hyenas are some of the most effective predators on the continent. Their never-ending antics, lop-sided smiles and big round ears make them extremely photogenic and can be found in most safari destinations. Great spotted hyena sightings from our guests have been occurred in the Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania and South Luangwe, Zambia. If you are a safari guru and are seeking to see something extremely rare, the brown hyena is one of the most coveted prizes you could wish for. This is the rarest hyena species and is a solitary, shy and elusive creature which prefers more arid regions.
The closest relative to the dolphin, but sharing none of its sweet nature, is the deadliest mammal in Africa.
The hippo is recognised as one of the most aggressive animals on the continent and is found in most rivers or watering holes on our safari destinations. With very sensitive skin, the hippo tends to spend all day in the water and only ventures out at night where it will feed on the nearby grass. This means that finding hippos isn’t a problem on safari; their tendencies mean they don’t wander too far allowing the guides to find them for you!
The hippos live in groups called pods, made up of one territorial male and a number of females. As the dry season progresses, the watering holes and rivers start to dry up, limiting the space for the pods (some can reach over one hundred individuals). Consequently, tensions rise and tempers flare resulting in territorial battles between the males which may lead to death. Hippos can be seen almost anywhere on safari, but the most concentrated groups we have seen were in Katavi, Tanzania where both hippos and crocodiles were under extreme strain due to an un-relenting dry season.
Thankfully, zebras can be found in any of our safari destinations and without having to look too hard! Zebras are often forgotten about in the Great Migration, yet there are over three hundred thousand of them that accompany the wildebeest on this journey. Zebras are gregarious and can live in big herds called a harem.
Their make-up is one male and many females and where you find zebras, you will generally find wildebeest. The reasoning is due to their diets; the zebras ‘crop’ the longer grass which makes it palatable for the wildebeest. The zebra population in Botswana also takes on its own migration from the floodplains of Chobe to Nxai Pan and is a five hundred kilometre round trip, rivalling the Great Migration of the Serengeti. This migration was only recently about learned but is certainly worth going to see!
The giraffe is the tallest land mammal on Earth and when compared to the zebra, it is not nearly as gregarious. Although you do find groups of these mammals, they tend to be far more nomadic and have a tendency to be able to adapt in any environment.
Giraffes are specifically browsers, only feeding on the trees and shrubs they come across, making the most of their long necks. They are often the ‘beacons of the bush’ and signal through intense staring that a predator may be lurking close by. Giraffes are found in all our safari destinations, ranging from the plains of East of Africa in the Serengeti to the undulating Lowveld of Kruger National Park in South Africa.
If you have been inspired to see these animals for yourself, then contact us and we can make that dream a reality.