Africa’s Elusive Eleven – Animals That Are a Challenge to Find and Photograph!

Most people who visit Africa for a photographic safari are focused on finding the Big-Five or Super-Seven, yet Africa’s Elusive-Eleven are just as exciting and much more challenging to find. They are primarily nocturnal animals that are rarely seen in African National Parks and Game Reserves.

Here are the Elusive Eleven in alphabetical order…

1. Aardvark

The Aardvark is a medium-sized African mammal and its name comes from the Afrikaans/Dutch for “earth pig” because early European settlers thought it resembled a pig. Aardvarks are nocturnal, usually waiting until dark before they emerge from their burrows to feed on ants and termites.

2. Aardwolf

The aardwolf is a small mammal that looks like a striped hyena and is found in Eastern and Southern Africa. The name means “earth wolf” in Afrikaans/Dutch. Unlike other hyenas, the diet of the aardwolf consists of termites, which it feeds on at night.

3. African Civet

In our first ten years of visiting the various African game reserves we saw no civets. Then from 2007 We had about seven civet sightings – all in Punda Maria camp at night while we were having a braai (barbeque).

4. African Wild Cat

We have seen African wild cats primarily in the Kgalagadi and Etosha – 2 sightings in Etosha and 2 in the Kgalagadi. One lived under our dune cabin at Kielie Krankie wilderness camp and we would see her nearly every day. We would return from our game drive to find her at our front door!

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5. Bushpig

The Bushpig is a member of the pig family and is found in East and Southern Africa. Bushpigs are mainly nocturnal and therefore are seldom seen during the day.

6. Caracal

We have had just two caracal sightings – one in the Kruger Park near Satara camp during the day and the other at Kielie Krankie wilderness camp in the Kgalagadi at night.

7. Honey Badger

For our first 10 years of visiting African national parks we saw no honey badgers but then we saw our first one in the Kruger Park near Olifants camp. Since then we have had 3 other sightings in the Kruger – one near Punda Maria, and two more near Olifants. We have also seen them in Halali camp in Etosha.

8. Pangolin

Pangolins are very rare sightings and in our sixteen years of visiting African national parks we have not seen one. In recent years there have been a few sightings of these elusive creatures in the Kruger Park – one near Skukuza in the morning and another in Punda Maria camp at night.

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9. Porcupine

We have seen just three porcupines in all the years we have been visiting game reserves. We saw our first one at Tamboti camp in the Kruger park, our second one at Halali waterhole in Etosha and the third at Kielie Krankie wilderness camp in the Kalahari.

10. Serval

The serval is a small spotted cat that some people get confused with a cheetah. The serval is, however, much smaller than the cheetah and is predominantly nocturnal.

11. Side-striped Jackal

The side-striped jackal can be confused with the more common black-backed jackal but the side-striped does not have a silver/black back. We have seen three of these side-striped jackals – one in the Pilanesberg and the other two in the Kruger Park. This animal is the only one of the elusive eleven that is not nocturnal.

So keep a lookout for Africa’s Elusive Eleven on your next night drive or even in your camp and if you do get to see one or more of them then you have been blessed!

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by Mario Fazekas