Welcome to the tenth edition of Shakati Bush Facts. In this edition, we will be looking at the ugly five. In the first article in this series, we looked at the little five, in second article; we will focus on the shy five. In this, the third and last article in this series focuses on the Ugly five.

The “Ugly” five includes the hyena, wildebeest, vulture, warthog and the marabou stork. In reality this list was created, as a fun list as there is not “ugly” animals as beauty is in the eye of the beholder, thus have fun in spotting these majestic and interesting looking animals.

Ugly Five


Spotted Hyena is a peculiar animal where it is both a scavenger and a hunter especially in the Kruger National Park. By certain standards it not ugly, but it is actually a fascinating and beautiful animal. Shakati Private Game Reserve does not contain any Spotted Hyena’s BUT Shakati have the Brown Hyena, which is part of the Hyena Family.


Image Credit: Wikipedia

The brown hyena (Hyaena brunnea, formerly Parahyaena brunnea), also called strandwolf and occurs on Shakati Private Game Reserve (very shy and rarely seen). The Brown Hyena resides in rocky, mountainous area. The Brown Hyena is identifiable by long shaggy coat and pointed ears, a dark brown coat and a short tail, striped brown and white legs and has a distinct cream-colored fur ruff around their necks. The global population of brown hyena is estimated at less than 10,000 individuals. They are listed as near threatened in the IUCN Red List. The major threat to brown Hyenas is human persecution based on the mistaken belief that they are harmful to livestock. Farmers will find hyenas scavenging on livestock carcasses and wrongly assume that hyenas have killed their property



Image Credit: Johan Fourie

The Wildebeest is one of the most seen animals of the “Ugly” five and have a distinct shape and colour, skinny legs, high shoulders, short neck, barrel chest, muscular, front-heavy appearance, with a distinctive robust muzzle. On Shakati Private Game Reserve we have the Blue Wildebeest (Connochaetes taurinus), also called the common Wildebeest or the “GNU”. Both sexes possess a pair of large curved horns.



Image Credit: Wikipedia

The Cape Vulture (Gyps Coprotheres) nests on cliffs, lays one egg per year, and has been classified as Endangered since 2015. This large vulture is of a creamy-buff colour, with contrasting dark flight- and tail-feathers. The eyes are yellowish and the bill is black bill. Juveniles and immatures are generally darker and more streaked, with brown to orange eyes and red neck. The Cape Vulture has been spotted circling above Shakati, thus always look out in the skies above for this feathery wonder.



Image Credit: Johan Fourie

The Warthog (Phacochoerus africanus) is aptly name because of huge protuberances under their eyes. The Warthog is a medium-sized species, with two pairs of tusks protruding from the mouth and curving upwards. The head of the Warthog is large, with a mane down the spine to the middle of the back. Sparse hair covers the body. Its colour is usually black or brown. Tails are long and end with a tuft of hair. They are largely herbivorous, but occasionally also eat small animals.

Watch out on Shakati Private Game Reserve for two proud mothers sporting litters of three and four cute little piggies.

Marabou stork


Image Credit: Wikipedia

The Marabou Stork (Leptoptilos crumenifer) is sometimes called the Undertaker Bird or the old man due to the shape of its head from behind. The Marabou Stork is usually found picking through carrion. The marabou is unmistakable due to its size, bare head and neck, black back, and white underparts. It has a huge bill, a pink gular sac at its throat, a neck ruff, and black legs and wings. The sexes are alike, but the young bird is browner and has a smaller bill.

Unfortunately, we have not spotted one yet in Shakati, but they definitely occur in the area, so watch out for them.

Which of the Ugly Five is found on Shakati?

Shakati contains the wildebeest, vulture and warthog of the Ugly five. The Brown Hyena is part of the Hyena species thus; it is technically part of the Ugly five (even though we think it is a beautiful animal). The only one, which we have not spotted yet on Shakati, is the Marabou Stork, and with your help, we will be able to find it.

See you next time



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