The Ugly Five

Jan 4, 2021 | 0 comments

When you’ve packed all your gear, snacks and water bottles and you’re ready to take on the african bush there are some less famous but somewhat infamous animals you might want to look out for. It’s not commonly spoken of when considering what to keep your eyes open for but the ugly 5 are spectacular in their own ways other than the obvious lack of beauty.


Previously we spoke of The Little 5, but did you know that there is an ugly 5 as well?


These unfortunate little creatures are as tough as nails and look the part. With long curled up tusks that are actually enlarged canine teeth and practically naked skin apart from their mane it’s easy to see why they made the list.

Apart from this they are gentle creatures – allowing vervet monkeys and even Banded Mongooses to pick ticks from their skin. They’re classed as cooperative breeders where sows will nurse other litters if they lose their own in an act known as ‘allosucking’.

Although they can be gentle, they also have a tendency to be quite fierce. Warthogs have many predators including large eagles and owls preying on them and their piglets, but they will always defend themselves mainly using their tusks as weapons and sometimes might even prove to be too much of a challenge for some predators – causing serious injury with their tusks

Warthog in the grass

Lappet-faced Vulture

What they lack in beauty they make up in sheer size! With wing spans of up to 3 meters, an impressive 1 meter tall and weighing in at up to 10kg these birds truly are magnificent.

These scavengers have the unflattering task of cleaning up old rotting carcasses and the Lappet-faced vulture is equipped with a mean hook-like bill purpose made for ripping into carcasses left behind and forgotten.


As cubs you wouldn’t think they deserve to make the list but soon after a little maturing the Hyena adults are quite terrifying to look at. Did you know that Hyena cubs are born with teeth already in place?

Often mistaken as purely being scavengers, the Hyena is actually a rather successful hunter. They use their incredible stamina to exhaust their prey in order to take them down. As much as they aren’t the prettiest to look at they are extremely intelligent creatures. Their range of vocal calls has as many as 28 vocalizations including the iconic ‘laugh’ which you might even call eerie at best.

Marabou Stork

Another large, scavenging bird makes the list, although somehow this bird leaves even less to be desired with its tall featherless legs, balding head and a pouch dangling from its throat.

Although it may look uglier than it does scary, this giant bird is not to be trifled with! It may scavenge most of its food, often hanging around large herds waiting to pick off any disturbed insects or using their strong beaks to break through the hide of carcasses, but it is known to walk ahead of grass fires looking to snatch up fleeing animals as well as even feed on adult Flamingos!


A little bit of a mixed bag when it comes to looks, and truly deserving of its place on the list.
What is fascinating about the wildebeest or rather the Blue Wildebeest is its yearly mass migration from the Serengeti in Tanzania to Maasai Maara Kenya.

The Wildebeest is often seen amongst a herd of zebra. There is a magnitude of reasons for this symbiosis but one of which is that zebras feed off tall grass while the Wildebeest feed off the shorter grass. Zebra essentially help ‘pave the way’ for the Wildebeest to get a good meal!

Blue Wildebeest

Most of The Ugly five aren’t unusual sightings within the reserve, however although they’re not the prettiest to look at, they each play a significant role in keeping the balance of the reserve ecosystem.

Share This

Share this post with your friends!

× Book via WhatsApp