The Ugly Five Animals : While on a safari, it is simple to overlook smaller animals because we are typically searching for the Big Five game animals. However, there are other notable animal species in Africa that can also be spotted. The warthog, hyena, marabou stork, vulture, and wildebeest—collectively known as The Ugly Five—are among Africa’s less desirable wildlife. These animals aren’t particularly attractive, yet they each have something special and fascinating to offer.
The genus Phacochoerus belongs to the Suidae family, generally referred to as the warthogs (pronounced wart-hog). They are pigs that dwell in sub-Saharan Africa’s open and semi-open habitats, even in relatively arid areas. Phacochoerus aethiopicus, the scientific term for the two species, was once used to refer to both as conspecific, but it is now only used to refer to the desert warthog. Phacochoerus africanus, the most widely distributed and best-known species, is the true warthog. These creatures typically live in packs and spend the majority of their time looking for food. The pig family member, the warthog, is widely dispersed throughout Africa. These creatures live underground and snatch aardvarks’ burrows, which they use to sleep. These creatures choose to flee from danger rather than engage in combat, and when sprinting through the grass, their tails stand up straight.
From a distance, their bodies and heads appear mostly hairless while being covered in bristly hairs; only the crest on their backs and the tufts on their cheeks and tails are clearly hairy. The wattles on their faces, which are more noticeable in males, are what the English term alludes to. The males’ tusks can grow to a length of 10 to 25 inches (25 to 64 cm), but the females’ tusks are always shorter. They also have highly unique teeth. Although they mostly eat plants, they occasionally also consume tiny animals. The nominate subspecies of the desert warthog, also known as the Cape warthog, went extinct around 1865, despite the fact that both species are still reasonably widespread and abundant and are consequently listed by the IUCN as being of Least Concern.
A Marabou stork
A big wading bird from sub-Saharan Africa, the marabou stork (Leptoptilos crumenifer) belongs to the stork family Ciconiidae. It breeds in both wet and dry environments, frequently close to populated areas, particularly landfills. Due to its shape from behind, which includes cloak-like wings and a back, thin white legs, and occasionally a big mass of “hair,” it is also referred to as the “undertaker bird.”
The naked head and long neck of the marabou stork, like those of the vultures on which it frequently preys, are adaptations to this mode of subsistence. When the bird’s head was inside a huge carcass in either scenario, a feathered head would quickly become clotted with blood and other fluids, and the bare head is simpler to maintain clean.
This big, strong bird prefers to eat carrion, scraps, and excrement, although it will devour nearly any animal matter when the opportunity arises. Sometimes it consumes young Quelea, pigeons, doves, pelican and cormorant chicks, and even flamingos. Since nestlings require this type of diet to survive during the breeding season, adults reduce their consumption of carrion and focus more on small, live prey.
A vulture is a predatory bird that eats carrion. Vultures currently exist in 23 different species, including condors. Old World vultures are comprised of 16 surviving species that are indigenous to Europe, Africa, and Asia; New World vultures are only found in North and South America and are made up of seven species that have been identified; all of these species are Cathartidae members. The bald, featherless head that many vultures have is one of their distinctive features. When eating, this naked skin is believed to keep the head clean and is crucial for thermoregulation.
According to some authorities, the lappet-faced vulture is the vulture’s Ugly 5 representation. None of the 11 vulture species found in Africa are exceptionally attractive, despite the fact that most of them may pass for such.
The heads of vultures frequently have a bald, scabby appearance, just like the marabou stork. Frequently with unattractive skin wrinkles, and occasionally with exposed ears.
Vultures, like marabou storks, serve an important function in nature. They are regarded as recognised “clean-up crew” workers in Africa for their abilities to maintain order in our wildlife parks.
They are among the most notorious scavengers, and they excel at what they do. In Africa, they actually remove up to 70% of the carrion, which helps stop the spread of disease to both animals and people.
Connochaetes antelopes, often known as wildebeest or gnus, are indigenous to Eastern and Southern Africa. They are a member of the Bovidae family of even-toed horned ungulates, which also contains real antelopes, cattle, goats, sheep, and other species. There are two types of wildebeest: the black wildebeest (C. Gnou), also known as the white-tailed gnu, and the blue wildebeest (C. Taurinus), also known as the brindled gnu.
While wildebeests may not be the most handsome creatures on this list, they aren’t particularly ugly either. A wildebeest’s eyesight is so poor that it wouldn’t even be aware of how “ugly” it was.
However, they are recognised as being among the Ugly 5 African animals. They have lengthy faces, ugly horns, and wispy beards. Indeed, the moniker “wildebeest,” which is an Afrikaans word that means “wild beast,” was given to the animal because of its unpleasant appearance.
Wildebeests put on a magnificent performance for such a sad-looking animal. The greatest migration of terrestrial mammals on Earth is that of the great wildebeest. In quest of greener pastures, more than a million wildebeest saunter through the Serengeti. A safari dream is to catch a glimpse of this activity.
The blue wildebeest is the most prevalent species of big game in East Africa; some populations migrate annually to new grazing grounds, whereas the black wildebeest is merely itinerant. At the end of the rainy season, both species breed briefly, and the calves are soon active and able to migrate with the herd, which is essential for their survival. However, certain animals become victim to huge carnivores, like the spotted hyena.
Wildebeest frequently graze alongside zebra in mixed herds, which increases awareness of potential predators. They also pay attention to the warning signals that other species, like baboons, generate. Although they compete with domesticated animals for pasture and are occasionally held responsible by farmers for spreading parasites and sickness to their cattle, wildebeest are nevertheless a popular tourist attraction.
The Hyaenidae family of feliform carnivorous animals includes hyenas. It is one of the smallest families in the class Mammalia and the fifth-smallest family in the Carnivora with only four living species (each in its own genus). Hyenas are distinctive and essential elements of the majority of the African ecosystems, despite having a limited level of diversity.
In the mythology and folklore of the human societies that coexist with them, hyenas play a significant role. Hyenas are frequently thought of being terrifying and deserving of scorn. Hyenas are supposed to steal animals, kidnap children, plunder tombs, and manipulate people’s spirits in various civilizations. They are used in traditional medicine in other civilizations, but they are also linked to witchcraft in other traditions.
Yes, they do have a somewhat off-balanced posture, an unattractive grin, and a slightly menacing face. Additionally, their portrayal in The Lion King didn’t help their reputation much. Hyenas aren’t very repulsive, and their cubs are even adorable.
Scavengers by nature (which is beginning to sound like a significant predictor of ugly), hyenas are crucial members of their ecosystems. They don’t just scavenge for food, though. They are good hunters as well. They are actually among the most prosperous predators in Africa.
They can easily digest any meal thanks to their strong stomach acid and powerful jaws, which can break the bones of some of Africa’s largest animals.
Hoofs and bones are among the many things that hyenas will consume. In the family Hyaenidae, there are three different hyena species. Specifically, the spotted, brown, and striped hyenas. The same family also includes the lesser-known aardwolf. The largest of the group, the spotted hyena, is also referred to as the laughing hyena. This is due to the fact that they are the only ones who make the customary chuckling noise.