Africa is known for its Big Five – a group of animals every traveller hopes to see on an African safari. You may have even heard about the Little Five and the Ugly Five, but have you heard of the Shy Five? These five creatures may be difficult to spot, but if you wish to see more of Africa than simply the Big Five, add the group to your game spotting list! We’ve put together a guide so that you can get to know the Shy Five of Africa.
Meerkats are the social butterflies of the animal kingdom! Meerkats hang out in large groups, and a group of meerkats is known as either a ‘mob’ or a ‘gang’. You can find up to 20 meerkats in a mob, and some groups are home to 50 or more family members! No meerkat mob or gang would be what it is without teamwork, and all family members help to collect food, watch for predators and look after the younger meerkats.
The aardvark is an unusual looking animal, with a pig-like snout, rabbit-like ears and a tail similar to that of a kangaroo. The word aardvark means ‘earth pig’ in Afrikaans, a South African language. However, these animals are not related to pigs, and while they may look like anteaters, they are said to be related to the African elephant! Aardvarks can eat up to 50 000 ants in one night, and they have a superb sense of smell, which they use to sniff out food. The Maasai people of Kenya believe that seeing an aardvark brings good fortune, so spotting one on a safari may bring you luck!
While porcupines are small, these critters are fierce and a force to be reckoned with! Their prickly backs are covered in an average of 30 000 quills. When threatened, the spiky porcupine will move backwards, embedding its quills into the attacker, making any encounter with them a hair-raising experience! Porcupines have been known to fatally attack wild animals more than twice their size in the wild, as was the case when a porcupine stabbed and killed a leopard in the Kruger National Park.
The aardwolf is a dog-like mammal of east and southern Africa often mistaken for a small, striped hyena. From a distance, the aardwolf may look like hyena, but unlike its cackling relative, the aardwolf does not hunt large animals, eating insects instead. Aardwolf sightings are few and far between, as these nocturnal animals sleep in underground burrows during the day. Aardwolves are highly territorial, and emit a musk-smelling fluid to mark their territory.
The Bat-eared fox
The bat-eared fox is a species of fox that roams the plains of Botswana, Kenya, Namibia, South Africa, and many other countries in east and southern Africa. Although the bat-eared fox is small, they can easily be spotted in the wild thanks to their long and big bat-like ears. Bat-eared foxes forage for termites and other insects, and they can eat up to 1.15 million termites a year! While all members of the Shy Five are beautiful in their own way, the bat-eared fox is arguably the cutest of the bunch.
Have you ever seen the Shy Five on safari? Tell us about your Shy Five experience!