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5 Odd Animals in Africa

Date: May 14, 2013 | By: Enid Glasgow | Category: Travel Blog

The world’s creatures are all treasures to be valued and protected.  From the astonishing 100-foot Blue Whale to the tiny bee hummingbird, which can fit on your thumb, Mother Nature has created a menagerie of stunning, elegant, fierce, massive, petite, and gentle animals – but she also threw us some curveballs. Look at the star-nose mole, the proboscis monkey, the loveable platypus, or the absolutely terrifying aye-aye of Madagascar. Just as Africa boasts an incredible wealth of the fierce and fabulous, it has an abundance of freaky and funky.

Here are some of Africa’s most unusual, but no less magnificent, residents:

Pangolin – Pangolins have no teeth or claws with which to protect themselves, so they depend on their scales. When curled up, they resemble pinecones – but they’re much tougher! Their strong scales keep them safe from big cats and other predators. Pangolin meat is popular, and its scales, when ground, are ingredients in traditional Chinese medicine. Both factors have endangered these little tanks.

Okapi – “Odd” doesn’t mean these animals are not gorgeous! It looks like a cross between a horse and a zebra; but the line of the neck is reminiscent of a giraffe (but by no means on the same scale!). Its velvety fur helps keep them protected from the rain – a must for these rain forest dwellers. The Ugandan native snacks on grass, leaves, buds, and the occasional fruit.

Bat-Eared Fox – This canine species resembles a jackal and features enormous ears. The better to hear its prey; the bat-eared fox prefers termites but will settle for other insects in a pinch. A single fox can eat 1.5 million termites a year! These small animals are family oriented and typically mate for life; males help raise the young while mom goes hunting.

Shoebill – Odd, sure. Big – oh yes! The shoebill, a type of stork, stands about five feet tall with a wingspan that can be double that. It is a fierce hunter who likes to feed on fish, small birds, turtles, and even baby crocs. The shoebill’s bill is rounded and nubby, contrasting with the long, narrow beaks of other storks.

Elephant Shrew – A mouse. With a beak? While it does resemble a shrew, and some think it resembles an elephant with that snout, it is in fact neither. The elephant shrew is an insect-eating mammal, known for being shrewd. They are very difficult to catch and observe given their great caution and camouflaging techniques. They prefer to be left to patrol their carefully-constructed pathways in the undergrowth for insects.

These animals are all great examples of the tremendous diversity of life in Africa. Odd, strange, weird…and wonderful.

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