Most of us go on safari or go to the bush in the hope of seeing some of Africa’s quintessential wildlife, namely the big five, cheetah, African wild dog, spotted hyena, warthog, zebra, giraffe and wildebeest… However there are some of us who are desperate to see some of the less common, unique and odd-looking creatures of Africa’s savannahs. Here are a few interesting species and the best places in which to see them…
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Screen Shot 2015-01-29 at 8.05.54 AM .Aardvark – Aptly named the ‘Earth Pig’ due to its pig-like appearance and its propensity to dig massive tunnels in to the side of termite mounds. Evidence of their existence can be seen in many areas of South Africa where their diggings provide refuge for a number of other species such as warthog and hyena. The aardvark is generally active only at night and incredibly shy so is very seldomly seen. However at Samara Game Reserve, in South Africa’s Karoo region a few hours drive from Port Elizabeth, one can be assured of viewing these creatures in their natural environment.
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Screen Shot 2015-01-29 at 8.06.06 AM Pangolin – Another animal that feeds almost exclusively on termites has a real prehistoric look about it. Sadly there is a huge demand for this animal’s scales which have resulted in its numbers being decimated. However there are still a few safe refuges where the Pangolin is able to go by its day to day life unhindered. The best place to view the Pangolin is in the Kalahari Desert. There are some amazing reserves that these elusive animals still thrive in including !Xaus Lodge in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park and Kalahari Trails.
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aardwolf Aardwolf – Part of the hyena family this diminutive animals spends night time hours searching for termites and insects to feed upon. It is very shy but can be often seen in the late afternoon hours in Mokala National Park especially during South Africa’s winter months (June – August). Mokala is best explored in one’s own vehicle but guided day and evening game drives can be booked through the park’s camps, Mosu Lodge or Lilydale Rest Camp reception desks.
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Honey Badger
 – Africa’s most ferocious animal. This animal is regularly seen in the Timbavati Game Reserve adjoining South Africa’s Kruger National Park. Although most active at night honey badgers are sometimes seen in the early morning and at dusk. As the name suggests the honey badger has an affinity for honey and will go straight in to the centre of a bee hive with the bee stings seemingly having little effect. Known mostly for its ferocity these animals have been seen chasing off lions, leopards and hyenas. They are also extremely resilient to snake bite and have been known to survive extremely venomous snake bites. Try staying at MotswariUmlaniKings Camp or Tanda Tula for a chance of seeing honey badgers in action in their natural environment.
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hyena Brown Hyena – Mostly overshadowed by its cousin and the more commonly seen spotted hyena, the brown hyena leads a much more low-key existence. Mostly solitary the brown hyena is still found throughout most of South Africa’s country side. It differs from the spotted hyena in being slightly smaller, having a thick brown shaggy coat and living on its own. It also does not vocalise whereas the spotted hyena calls out regularly in the African night. In the absence of large clans of spotted hyena the brown hyena thrives in game reserves such as Welgevonden Private Game Reserve in the Waterberg and the Pilanesberg National Park near Sun City.
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