Not every animal is cute and cuddly. Some are considered downright ugly, but they are beautiful to us regardless!
The Ugly Five are considered to be the ugliest animals in Africa and they include the warthog, wildebeest, hyena, vulture, and marabou stork. Although these animals aren’t particularly attractive, they play an important role in ecosystems.
With that being said, let’s take a deep look into each one of them
1. The Warthog.
The warthog’s mismatched tusks earn its spot among the top five ugliest animals in Africa. The bottom tusks are sharp and straight, while the top ones are long and curved. It also has a mangy appearance due to its scattered tufts of hair. Despite their intimidating appearance and unusual consumption of earthworms and other small invertebrates, warthogs prefer a diet of plants, grasses, berries, and tubers, which they dig up with their tusks.
The hyena has an unusually slanted back and hind legs that are shorter than the front legs. These animals resemble a dog but they are more closely related to cats. There are several hyena species, but most people are familiar with the largest of them, the spotted hyena. The spotted hyena is also known as the laughing hyena due to its loud vocalizations that sound uncannily similar to human laughter.
It’s not only the hyena’s appearance that many people find ugly but also its carnivorous feeding behavior. Hyenas are excellent hunters, but they prefer to scavenge on the carcasses of other predators. Except for hair, hooves, and horns, the hyena’s powerful jaws and efficient digestive tract allow it to consume and digest every part of the animal that it feeds on. What isn’t completely digested is regurgitated as pellets.
The wildebeest is said to resemble a jumble of spare parts, with a head like a buffalo, a body like an antelope, and a tail like a horse. Its slender backend appears out of sync with its bulky front end. It also makes some horrifying noises: snorts, grunts, and moans.
Wildebeest are herbivores that graze on the grassy African plains, where lions, cheetahs, and hyenas prey. The majority of female wildebeest give birth within two or three weeks of one another. The fact that there are so many calves at the same time ensures that enough of them will survive predators and grow to adulthood, ensuring the species’ survival.
4. The Marabou Stork.
The marabou stork is one of Africa’s oddest-looking birds. Its moniker is the “undertaker” because of its black-feathered body. It has a pink mostly bald head with a few scattered feathers. There is a pink or red pouch at the base of its throat, and a smaller one at the back of its neck in its ruff of white feathers. Its large tapered beak and long skinny legs appear out of proportion to its body.
These unappealing characteristics are all adaptations that aid in the survival of the marabou stork. Its featherless head and long beak enable it to feed on carrion without picking up bacteria or parasites from rotting meat. The reddish color of its head protects it from sunburn and blisters that could become infected if the bird sticks its head into a carcass. The pouches at the front and back of its neck inflate and the feathered ruff stands at attention when the male stork is courting a female or trying to scare off another male.
5. The Vulture.
Vultures are found in almost every habitat on the African continent, from woodlands to savannahs, semi-arid deserts, and mountains. Though the vulture may appear regal when flying high above, many people find it repulsive due to its featherless head and neck. The vulture’s lack of feathers is an adaptation that helps it avoid picking up bacteria and parasites while feeding on carrion.
Once again, the animal’s feeding habits contribute to its “ugly” reputation. Vultures eat dead animals and rotting meat. However, scavenging plays a critical role in ecosystems. The feeding habits of the vulture actually aid in the prevention of disease transmission among animal and human populations. Vultures are known to clean up approximately 70% of the carrion in their ecosystems.
GET IN TOUCH
To contact an expert travel planner to start planning your adventure in Kenya, click the button below: