Monday, May 13

Ugly, or beautiful?

A challenge with all safaris in the African bush is to get visitors looking for and appreciating wildlife beyond the so-called "Big 5".

To help with this, someone out there came up with a few more "5" lists. There are the Big 5 herbivores, the Little 5, the Big 5 birds and so on.......

One of my favourite lists is the "Ugly 5".

Of course, one could also debate the label "ugly". This is always a matter of personal taste, and quite frankly I think it is rather insulting to most of the animals.

Never the less, it is always good for a laugh when we discuss the list and think about what we still need to find.

Arguably, one of the ugliest of the 5 is the warthog.

We almost always find this animal at some time on safari, but it is not always easy to get a good photo of. They tend to be either very shy, and skitter off as soon as you slow down, or are occasionally very brazen, rooting at the grass right in front of you.
This last summer we have had a couple of trips where we saw many of this seasons warthoglets scampering off after their mothers, tails held rigidly up right.

There was no way we could call these little speedy animals ugly, no way!

Then, definitely on my "ugly" list is the Marabou Stork. As much as I hate calling anything ugly, I have yet to see a beautiful looking Marabou. Maybe it's all on the inside?

These very large, and near-threatened birds, are however, not that easy to find. There is a reasonable population in Kruger National Park, but they move around and I can go for a few weeks without seeing any.

Carrion eaters, they also eat fish, eggs, and other birds so we can find them at waterholes, or roosting near the rivers where there are suitably large trees.

Number three on the Ugly 5 list, is the Spotted Hyaena.

This is another predator, which can be quite elusive unless we are fortunate enough to have a hyaena den nearby.

As with the warthog, the adults become quite "weathered" as they grow older, but the young are definitely "cute"! I have published quite a few photos of hyaena and you can even read a bit more about them at this posting.

The reason I have posted about them so often is that I think they are both fascinating and beautiful creatures.

No matter how threadbare the adults get, their eyes always get to me!

One of the more common mammals in Kruger is the Blue Wildebeest, or Brindled Gnu. However, in the thickness of the summer bush in southern Kruger it can be very hard to find these awkward looking antelope.

I will admit that they are strange looking..... long faces, tiny beady eyes, a lolloping gait, peculiar habits.... but ugly?

And finally, the last of the so-called Ugly 5, is the magnificent Lappet-faced Vulture.
I see these less often than the leopard (the most elusive of the Big 5) and it is always exciting to spot!
The photos I've got here were all taken at one sighting - the only time I have ever managed to get close enough to these birds to get a reasonable capture.


Gaelyn said...

I see none of them as ugly but do understand when your working with visitors you have to get their minds off the Big 5. Nice bunch of shots.

Coral Wild said...

Thanks Gaelyn. I agree with you - nothing is ugly in nature if it is doing what it is meant to do.
It's humankind who introduces the ugliness....

Gavin said...

Hi Sue. Informative and beautiful (!) as always. The only one I can't bring myself to appreciate is the Marabou.

Perhaps you cam clear up a confusion for me. I have looked at photos of bushpigs and of warthogs, but am still not sure of the differences or even if we do have bushpigs in this country; I also seem to spot warthogs (a personal favourite).


Coral Wild said...

Hi Gavin

We definitely have bushpigs in this country. Have only once seen them in the lowveld as they are very very shy there and strictly nocturnal.
In Natures Valley, Eastern Cape, they were camp scavengers, at night. A bit scary when having to make night time visits to the communal bathrooms!!

I'll try to find a photo of one so I can point out the differences - no warts obviously and a different body/head shape.


Diana said...

I jump back to the wonderful memory you gave us of the hyaenas and their cubs within a few feet of us, in March. It was so special. Have a simply wonderful diving holiday - I expect you'll get through a few books on the way there and back?

love Diana.

Coral Wild said...

Thanks Diana. Those hyaena were such a special sighting:)
I'm stocking up on books to take on my e-reader!!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Coral .. warthogs are my favourite .. but the hyena 'sleeping' is rather 'lovely' .. great photos you show us ..

Cheers Hilary