This enormous bird is the largest feathered creature on the planet. Belonging to the ratite family, along with its similarly flightless cousins such as emus, cassowaries and kiwis, it is also the holder of many other records. Many authorities now believe the Somali ostrich, of arid parts of East Africa, to be a separate species from the common ostrich found elsewhere.
It is something of a safari cliché that the hippo is ‘the most dangerous animal in Africa’. While there may be more than a little hyperbole in such a claim, it is nonetheless true that behind the friendly smile lies an aggressive disposition and mouthful of lethal teeth. After the elephant and white rhino, this heavyweight herbivore is the third largest of Africa’s mammals.
Every schoolchild knows that this greyhound of the cat family is the fastest land animal on the planet – reaching speeds of 120km/h – and one glance at its lithe physique shows that it is built for speed. But this cat also has many other remarkable qualities.
You needn’t be a serious birder to recognise the yodelling yelp of this striking raptor. Often described as the sound of Africa, the sound evokes lazy rivers and palm-fringed lakeshores, often in duet with the grunting of hippos. And the bird itself, in its black, white and chestnut finery, is equally unmistakable.
You may spot their shining eyes bouncing around in your torch beam, or wake in the small hours to their ear-splitting shrieks – like the bawling of a distressed infant. But either way, bushbabies, also called galagos, are tricky animals to observe...
Do you suffer from ophidiophobia – or fear of snakes? Then you might want to avoid the African rock python, Africa’s largest serpent, which may reach a length of six metres and has been known to attack and even start to swallow a human being.
A question that has vexed this blog writer for years in southern Africa. Alan considers how close you can, and should, get to the animals when on safari. Is there any hard-fast rule?
As big and black as turkeys, wielding bills like hatchets, these charismatic birds cut an unmistakable dash as they strut around the bush in small family parties. There are two similar species: the southern ground hornbill (Bucorvus leadbeateri) is much the more widespread and better known; the Abyssinian ground hornbill (Bucorvus abyssinicus) occurs only north of the Equator.
This antelope’s name is Afrikaans for ‘rock jumper’ and the animal certainly lives up to this description, leaping around among cliffs and rocky outcrops like a mountain goat. A typical view will be of one individual standing stock-still on top of a rock. Look closer and you will invariably spot its mate nearby.
Katavi National Park is a very seasonal park with huge floodplains that dry up after the rains from June onwards. The Katuma river also dries up, until all that’s left is a small stream with a few muddy ponds. The big concentration of hippos ..