Bumpy rides along rising dust. Vast stretches of verdant landscapes. The sound of the crackling leaves, a swift jump into the bushes, and paw prints on the track. What are your eyes gazing for? Ah! There are giraffes enjoying a leafy breakfast with accompanying zebras. There is the elephant at the water hole and there a pride of lion, chasing the buffaloes.
A jeep passes by… “Move ahead rafiki (friend), otherwise the Kudu will be gone. Don’t you know it is so shy?”
“What is a Kudu? Neither the big 5 nor an African cat that I know” you wonder.
“It’s a rare antelope. And you will be amazed to see it” tells your safari guide.
“Only if we are lucky”, he exclaims and drives at a safe speed.
During your safari, you will be excited to see the popular wild animals and the sightings are common. Wouldn’t it be more special to spot endangered and extinct species that are shy, territorial and make unpredictable appearances? Tanzania is a home to some of the rarest verities of wild animals that have found solace in the bushes of the Savannah.
On your next safari, look out for these uncommon and elusive exotic species found in wildlife areas.
African Wild Dog
The Southern Tanzania is popular for its wild dogs, nearly 1300 scattered along the game reserve and spotted moving in pack of up to 50. This animal is highly endangered with a total remaining population of 5000 found in Africa; most of them prone to diseases such as rabies and canine distemper. African wild dogs an easily be identified with furry brown coat and white marks. They often attack their prey in groups and are seen with no guaranteed sightings during June and July. Their movement is unpredictable and often makes rare appearances.
Best Spots: Selous, Ruaha, Mkomazi and Mikumi
The Striped Hyena
This nearly threatened species is said to be so rare that there are only under 10,000 remain around the globe. There have been several reported incidents of hyenas killed by vehicles running over them while preying on the road. They are most often spotted during the night and appear like dogs and are extremely rare to spot. Striped hyenas are very protective and playful with their cubs. They have a body length of up to 120 cm, weigh up to 55 kgs and can attack within no time with its powerful forequarters.
Best Spots: Serengeti and Selous
One of the most beautiful and uncommon birds to spot in Tanzania is the lilac-breasted roller. With its multicolored body; green head, blue belly, lilac neck and bright feathers, the bird is not only charming in its appearance and has a special connotation to its name. During the courtship period and to claim territorial spaces, these birds perform acrobat shows. They are extremely protective about their nests and become defensive with raptors and usually prefer hunting from a point with a clear view.
Best Spots: Ruaha, Sernegeti and Tarangire National Park
Known as one of the most dangerous predator in Africa after the lion and the hippo, the crocodiles are only spotted by the river and water holes. During the dry season, their hunger calls in for an action packed adventure; in fact one can also go for an exclusive crocodile safari in Tanzania. Animals that are prone to crocodile attacks are the impalas, waterbucks, kudus, zebras, dikdik, gazelles and wildebeest. Sightings of the crocodile are rare as these creatures are elusive and have a sly technique to hunt for prey.
Best Spots: Grumeti River (Serengeti Nation park), River Rufiji (Selous Game Reserve)Great Ruaha River (Ruaha National Park), Lake Katavi and Chada (Katavi National Park)
These are Africa’s largest antelopes and weigh almost 90 kgs. Elands have small horns and with a tanned coat often seen moving in a herd of 10-15 or in hundreds during the migration seasons. Their preferred habitat areas include savannah, woodlands, and montane grasslands. Elands are usually slow moving however due to their defensive nature and due to threats such as hunting; it is always advisable to maintain a good distance with them. Elands usually bark and move briskly when they sense danger.
Best Spots: Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Serengeti and Mikumi National Park
Greater and Lesser Kudus
The Kudus come from the antelope families found in the Eastern and Southern Tanzania. These gentle species are mysterious and often make their appearance during the day, however are very shy. The greater Kudu can be spotted in woodland areas and have been declining in numbers due to poaching and deforestation. It is considered the most handsome of the tragelaphine antelope. The lesser kudus are even difficult to spot, commonly seen in the forested areas in south Tanzania. The females and the children have a reddish coat and horns are distinctly seen on the males, some also have spiral horns.
Best Spots: Selous Game Reserve, Ruaha National Park and Central Serengeti.
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