Everyone has their own list of must-sees when it comes to wildlife on an African safari, with the Big 5 usually found at the top of the list. As life-changing as the Big 5 are to see, you will find that wildlife viewing does not end there. With some unique animals only seen on very rare occasions it’s almost like finding a precious gemstone in your backyard. At The Hide, located in the heart of Hwange National Park, we have had some incredible once-in-a-lifetime encounters with some unique animals. If you are planning a safari trip to Zimbabwe, read on to find our list of the top five rarest animals you could see in Hwange.
The aardvark, commonly known as the “Cape Anteater” or “Earth Pig” is certainly one of the strangest looking animals seen in the wild. They are often described as having the body of a dwarf pig with rabbit-like ears and a kangaroo tail. These animals are known to burrow underground to avoid the heat of the day while eating in the cool of the night. They are specialist termite feeders and can eat up to 50 000 insects at a time! The aardvark is typically found in sandy terrains, however as they are nocturnal animals, they are renowned for being tricky to spot!
Photo credit: Luke Horsten
The porcupine is the largest rodent in Africa and despite being hard to come across, its quills are often found lying around the bush. Contrary to popular belief, porcupines do not shoot quills at predators, instead, their quills simply fall off. These prickly little animals are nocturnal herbivorous and blend in well with the colours and camouflage of the bush. Consequently, they are a rare sighting to find. To be in with the best chance of spotting one of these prickly creatures, jump on-board a night game drive or visit the Night Hide.
Photo credit: Animal Trivia
The serval or “bush cat” is a beautiful long-limbed animal with prominent ears and often mistaken for a small leopard or cheetah. These cats are also the second fastest animals in Africa and can jump up to three metres high to catch birds and large flying insects. Servals prefer to hunt mice in the long grass and live close to water sources, which makes it rather difficult to spot as the well camouflaged cats in the African bush and dense vegetation.
Photo credit: Daffy from The Hide
These incredible mammals are rated as the rarest of the rare animals to see in Africa. This is not only due to their private, nocturnal and solitary nature but also, sadly, because they are widely hunted, resulting in dramatic decline in population within the past decade. Their name originates from a Malay word “pengguling”, which translates to “something that rolls up”. The pangolin is famous for its armoured scaly shell, irregular way of walking and its long sticky tongue that devours as many – if not more – insects than the aardvark. Seeing a beautiful pangolin in the wild is possibly the most unique safari sighting you can experiences – so much so, that many safari guides retire without ever having seen one!
Photo credit: Geographic Magazine
5. Wild Dog
Famous for their large, round ears and unique multi-coloured coats, wild dogs are commonly known as Painted Dogs. They are known as Africa’s most effective hunters due to their smart hunting tactics as a pack and their constant communication and size of packs they hunt in. In addition, they are intensely social and nomadic as a pack and can travel up to 50 kilometres in one day, resulting in territories as large as 1,500 square kilometres. Sadly, these beautiful creatures are very rare to see and the second most endangered mammal in Africa and there are thought to be less than 5000 left worldwide. The greatest number of wild dogs are found in Zimbabwe. The best chance of seeing these is on Safari, especially in Hwange National Park. The Hide seeks to help protect and assist these special animals by supporting Zimbabwe’s Painted Dog Conservation, which is a rehabilitation facility for sick and injured pups who are then released back into the wild. If you would like to help too, simply click here to find out more or donate.
Photo credit: Geographic Magazine
Sightings at The Hide
Photo credit: The Hide
Our family run luxury safari camp has been situated in the wild heart of Hwange National Park for 25 years and so we have had the privilege of encountering all these animals at least once. The pangolin, of course, being the most elusive, with a single sighting over the two and a half decades! As we offer unlimited activities to guests, including night drives or you can immerse yourself in the sights and sounds of the bush that surround you at the Dove’s Nest the chances of sightings are increased. The aardvark, porcupine (these were spotted on the night drive a few nights ago) and serval cat have often been spotted in the Park.
This last week we were also lucky enough to come across painted dogs right by the Dove’s Nest, a 10-minute drive from camp. On a separate occasion, a single painted dog was seen on a kill, which two hyenas stole from it – our guide Nkosi and a guest watched this incredible scene all take place, a safari memory never to be forgotten!
Photo credit: Kate Hughes at The Hide
The Hide is committed to preserving Zimbabwe’s wildlife and supports numerous partners with organisations that are working to protect endangered animals in the area and the increase in tourism aids in the area’s conservation efforts.
Don’t miss out on visiting The Hide this September and October, our peak game viewing time, for only $471 per person sharing, per night which includes all daily meals, snacks, beverages, Wi-Fi, laundry and up to four activities a day.
Photo credit: The Hide
Contact us here to find out more.