Many people go on an African safari tour to see the most beautiful and majestic species on the planet, but not everyone has the same tastes. For those that enjoy something a little different, or have “been there, done that” when it comes to seeing most of Africa’s species, there are plenty of unusual-looking animals worth seeing that provide an experience not found anywhere else in the world.
Travelers should note that beauty is always in the eye of the beholder and that many of these animals evolved their ungainly looks as part of adjusting to their habitat and ecosystem. Nevertheless, none of these animals would likely make a popular stuffed animal design without significant creative license.
So without any further ado, here are some of Africa’s ugliest animals, relatively speaking:
A certain world-renowned animation studio took plenty of the aforementioned creative license when modifying this animal to look adorable on the big screen. In real life, warthogs are missing all those cuddly, round angles and instead have a hobbled, mean look to them.
Sharp, curved tusks and a face full of namesake knobs and bone protrusions all ensure that warthogs will come in last place during beauty contests. Add their unkempt Mohawks and their penchant for running away while displaying their rear end, tails-aloft, and you can see why not many people are anxious to bring a warthog home as pets.
From behind, the marabou’s plumage can actually seem kind of fetching. That is, until you see its horrifyingly unattractive face. Scabby-looking skin and beaks coupled with a grotesque waddle that swells up as the stork eats all clinch the bird’s unattractiveness. However, their unkempt, Bernie Sanders-like hairdo may just help add a tiny bit of charm to their persona.
Like the marabou, there are some impressive qualities about the vulture as long as they are viewed from a respectable distance. Awe-inspiring wingspan aside, their bald faces, hooked beaks, noxious smell and penchant for wearing dead animal organs as makeup make them unlikely to be invited to dinner parties anytime soon.
As you can see, there will be no shortage of awkward-looking birds to view on your African safari tour. The shoebill is perhaps the most unusual of them, looking like the product of an overzealous character designer or one of Jim Henson’s more off-putting puppets. Shoebills’ exaggerated beaks coupled with their comically-alert eyes mark them as hilarious to some and ungainly to others.
In a contest of worst table manners, the vulture may just be trumped by the hyena. They frequently devour anything they can scavenge, including crunching on the bones with powerful jaws. This disregard for etiquette and a general appearance like a mangy stray in need of a brushing all place the hyena in the shortlist of least adoptable canine-like species.
Looking for all the world like a grab bag of spare ruminant parts, the wildebeest offers one of Africa’s most impressive but visually inconsistent ecological events during their mass migrations. In isolation, features like their striped necks, anvil-like heads and whipsy tails could be described as attractive, but put together they are confusing and disjointed.
Nevertheless, some of the most impressive photos to come out of African safari tours have herds of energetic wildebeest as their subject, especially as they cross the Mara River.
Come take a look at any of these unusual and visually-interesting creatures during your African safari tour vacation with one of our incredible safari tour packages.
Jill Liphart for Roho Ya Chui, Travel Africa