Exploring the Unique Charm of Africa’s Ugly Five on Safari

September 29, 2023
Charming Image of Acacia Tree

When it comes to African safaris, our minds often conjure up images of majestic lions, elegant giraffes, and graceful elephants.

While these incredible creatures rightfully capture our attention and admiration. However, there is an equally fascinating group that goes somewhat unnoticed – the “Ugly Five.” Often dismissed due to their unusual appearances. These animals possess a distinctive charm that is worthy of exploration and appreciation. Let me introduce you to the captivating beauty of Africa’s “ugly” five. (photographs taken from Unsplash stock photography)

Marabou Stork:

With its bald head, long beak, and drooping neck, the Marabou Stork may not win any beauty contests.  But it is undeniably one of Africa’s most intriguing birds. These large, scavenging birds are exceptional in their purpose on safari. They clean up the remnants of carcasses. Playing a vital role in maintaining the ecosystem’s delicate balance. Observing them glide gracefully through the skies. And witnessing their feeding behaviour can be a truly unique experience.


Often referred to as “Pumba” after the lovable character from Disney’s Lion King. The warthog possesses a charm of its own. This darling hog is packed with character. And despite its stout body, sharp tusks, and warty face, the warthog is a resilient and resourceful creature. Its small, tufted tail held high acts as a signal device for other members of its family. While their comical running style offers an amusing sight. Spending time observing these lively hogs going about their daily activities is an adventure.


The wildebeest, with its unmistakable appearance and quirky mannerisms.  This fascinating creature often revered for its annual migration across the Serengeti. This antelope-like ungulate may not possess the graceful elegance of a gazelle. But its endurance, agility, and ability to form large herds is simply extraordinary. Witnessing thousands of wildebeests crossing rivers and plains during migration time is an extraordinary spectacle that showcases the power of nature.


Make no mistake, the hyena may not be the most visually appealing animal on safari. But they are noisy and fascinating to watch.  Hyenas are highly regarded for its intelligence and remarkable hunting efficiency. These scavengers may have a reputation for being cunning and vocal.  They are my favourite sound while on safari. They are also skilled hunters, forming formidable hunting packs.


Vultures may not be considered beautiful, but they play an essential role in the African ecosystem. These scavengers have powerful beaks and exceptional eyesight. They are helpful on safari as they can locate a carcass.  By swirling high above over it.  Giving you the chance to drive towards them. Finding the carcass.  They are efficient and can dispose a carcass quickly.  While watching them feed on carrion may not be for the faint-hearted. It’s quite exhilarating to see how the circle of life in the bush takes place. Witnessing their cooperative feeding behaviour and observing various vulture species in one place is awe-inspiring.

Africa’s “ugly five” may not possess the conventional beauty associated with popular safari animals, but they are undoubtedly fascinating creatures.  That contribute to the diverse and delicate ecosystems of the continent. From the Marabou Stork’s graceful flight to the warthog’s comical antics, each member of the ugly five offers a unique experience that visitors should not miss.

Embrace the opportunity to appreciate these creatures and witness nature’s intricate balance on your next safari adventure. After all, beauty truly lies in the eye of the beholder.

Photography – credited to Unsplash

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