• Shoebill, Uganda

Weird and wonderful critters to watch out for on your travels...

Travel is meant to be all about excitement and adventure and experiencing new things; however, too often these days this is forgotten and people expect a home away from home. We therefore thought it would be useful to introduce you to a few of our friends that you may encounter on your safari with us, and that will remind you...you are a long way from home!

Welcome to the world of weird and wonderful wildlife...

The Aye-aye of Madagascar

Ok, the aye-aye really is weird! Native to the exotic island of Madagascar, the aye-aye is an almost hairless nocturnal primate that combines rodent like teeth with a long thin middle finger in order to search for its food. By tapping on trees the aye-aye locates small grubs within the tree trunk and then proceeds to gnaw through the trunk of the tree creating a hole. Inserting its middle finger through the hole the aye-aye then spears the grub – ingenious! 

The bizarre looking aye-aye is an endangered species however it can be seen at the Kianjavato Lemur Project, a local conservation effort that Natural World Safaris has unique access to on one of a variety of our tailor-made holidays to Madagascar.

Aye-aye lemur in Madagascar

The armoured Pangolin of Africa and Asia

These armour plated “anteaters” are both bizarre to look at and incredibly hard to find. Existing on a diet of ants and termites, rather than using a long finger like the aye-aye, the pangolin uses an extraordinarily long, sticky tongue to extract their dinner from the ant hill or termite mound in question! Pangolins are covered in yellowish-brown keratin based scales that overlap like artichoke leaves and grow throughout their lifetime just like hair. With 8 species of pangolin dotted throughout the African and Asian continents, you would have thought that pangolins would be more widely known, however they are extremely secretive, nocturnal animals.

Due to the rarity of sightings, it is folklore that a pangolin sighting will bring you 7 years of good luck! Our MD Will was lucky enough to see one on his last trip to Botswana!

The honk-nosed proboscis monkey of Borneo

With a large protruding nose, the proboscis monkey is not the best looking primate out there! Inhabiting the island of Borneo, the proboscis monkey lives in riverine habitat and is often the surprise star of the show of any visit to Borneo! Living in groups often consisting of one male and then a number of females with their offspring; bachelor groups do also exist.

The proboscis monkey is an interesting eater, eating mainly fruit between January and May and mainly leaves between June and December.

To date, nobody can really explain the significance of the honk nose of the proboscis monkey, however the only explanation appears to be that the larger the nose, the more attractive the female finds the male in question!

To see these weird primates in their natural habitat, feel free to explore one of our Borneo safaris and we would be happy to tailor one to meet your specific requirements.

Proboscis monkey, Borneo

The marine based manatees...or sea cow

A weird and wonderful marine based animal that does actually live up to its name and looks very like a “cow of the sea”! Approximately 3m in length, the manatees only has approximately 6 teeth in each jaw, a paddle shaped tail (clearest difference between manatees and dugong as the dugong has a fluke shaped tail) and amazingly 45 metre long intestines...apparently manatees also produce large amounts of gas!!!

Manatees can actually be found in a variety of geographical locations including the Caribbean, the Amazon Basin and the waters of West Africa. For a trip to see these bulbous marine mammals your best chance is to visit the waters of the Amazon on one of our Brazilian adventures...

The shoebill stork of East Africa

Also known as the endearing “Whalehead!”, the shoebill stork is quite a sight with its massive shoe shaped bill stuck to a rather oversized bird body! At over 1.2m tall the grey coloured stork lives in East Africa from Sudan to Zambia. Having only been discovered in the 19th century, the shoebill flies with its neck retracted and with one of the slowest “flapping rates” at only 150 flaps a minute.

The best places to see the shoebill stork in the wild is in East Africa in Rwanda, Uganda and Tanzania. One of our most successful sites for sightings is in the Mbamba Wetlands in Uganda.

Shoebill close up, Uganda

Want to see these animals in the wild?

Get in touch to find out more about where to see these weird and wonderful creatures.

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