If you’ve been on safari in Africa you may have seen the Big Five, possibly also the Small Five, and maybe even the Ugly Five. But have you heard of the Secret Seven?
Africa’s Secret Seven aren’t easy to spot – in fact, they are the most difficult game animals to discover on safari. They are extremely rare and solitary nocturnal animals who live extremely private lives, making them much more difficult to find than the Big Five. Seeing one of Africa’s elusive Secret Seven is an extraordinary encounter that very few will be lucky enough to experience on their safari.
Pangolins are the most trafficked animals on the planet, targeted for their scales. The Pangolin has a tough, scaly body and very small eyes. It spooks extremely easily and rolls up into a ball if threatened. They have very long tongues for eating ants and termites.
A solitary nocturnal animal, the African Civet is found mostly in forested woodland areas. A unique feature is its secretions, which are used for the musky smell in perfume. Civets survive on a varied diet of rodents, reptiles, insects, eggs, fruit, berries, and birds. Interestingly, although mostly terrestrial, the African Civet is a very good swimmer!
The strange-looking Aardvark is usually found in open savannah landscape near termite mounds where it uses its 30cm long tongue to find termites and ants. Normally an Aardvark will be of a colour similar to the soil in the area in which it lives. The aardvark is nocturnal and travels long distances in search of food.
The Genet is a small cat-like animal that belongs to the Mongoose family. They are nocturnal in nature, hunting for birds, lizards, rodents, snakes, and insects. They are good tree climbers and are usually found in mixed woodland areas where they scramble along tree branches.
The Porcupine is probably the best-known member of the Secret Seven. It is the biggest rodent in Africa, with black and white quills that it ejects when under attack. It sleeps during the day and eats plants, berries and bark at night. Spending most of the day sleeping hidden away in communal burrows, porcupines are herbivores and eat the bulbs and roots of plants as well as berries, fruit, and tree bark.
African Wild Cat
The Southern African Wildcat looks very much like a domestic cat but is much bigger. It is an extremely shy creature that hunts at night using long grass and dense bushes to camouflage itself from its prey. It feeds mostly on small rodents, birds, hares, lizards, and insects, but can also kill small antelope.
The elegant Serval is a medium-sized cat with a yellowish-fawn coat, black spots, and stripes. The Serval has a shortish tail, a strong slender body and the longest legs relative to their body size. It adopts a characteristic pouncing technique when hunting small mammals, birds, and other prey. It hunts mostly at night, and hides away and sleeps during the day in the thick deep bush, almost always close to water.
If the idea of giving back to conservation and communities, and maybe spotting one of Africa’s Secret Seven, on your dream safari appeals to you, visit our website for safari inspiration. We are currently adding our 2021/2022 safaris, with a low deposit of NZ$ 500 for your peace of mind.
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