Most safari-goers are usually looking out for the Big 5 (lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo and rhino) but there are some rare safari animals worth keeping your eyes peeled for. Spotting one of these rare animals on safari would be a truly amazing #MahlatiniMoment...
Although many think of pangolins as reptiles due to their scaly appearance, they are actually mammals. In fact, they are the only mammals completely covered in scales! Pangolins are mainly nocturnal and remain in their burrows during the day.
Where to find them: andBeyond Phinda has reintroduced the highly endangered pangolin to Phinda Private Game Reserve. Also, the Tswalu Game Reserve in the Kalahari, South Africa, is known for its pangolins and guests who are determined to see one can spend an evening tracking them. We recommend staying at Twswalu Motse.
Fun fact: The word 'pangolin' originates from the Malay word 'penggulung', meaning 'one that rolls up'. This makes sense as a pangolin will curl itself into a tight ball when it is threatened.
A common misconception is that white lions are albino lions, however this is not the case. They are not a separate subspecies of lion, but have a recessive gene mutation that makes their fur white. This white gene pool is almost unique to the great Timbavati and southern Kruger area and is only one of two places in the world where white lions currently occur naturally.
Where to find them: there are only three white lion cubs living wild in the world today, with two of them living on andBeyond Ngala Private Game Reserve in South Africa, making it almost impossible to spot these cute cubs. Stay at andBeyond Ngala Safari Lodge to increase your slim chance of seeing this extremely rare safari animal.
Fun fact: white lions are only born if both the mother and father carry the recessive gene.
With just over 5000 living in the wild today, the critically endangered black rhino can be distinguished from the white rhino by a prehensile upper lip which it uses to feed on bushes and trees. Sadly, they remain critically endangered due to poaching for their horns.
Where to find them: the black rhino are native to southern and eastern Africa including Kenya, Tanzania, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe. We recommend staying at Saruni Rhino in Kenya, who currently provide protection for 15 black rhino. Guests of the camp receive a 'thrill-of-a-lifetime' experience tracking the black rhino by vehicle and on foot accompanied by an expert Saruni guide and a highly trained Sera Community Conservancy ranger.
Fun fact: black rhinos are browsers, meaning they eat trees, bushes and shrubs, whereas white rhinos are grazers.
Aardwolves are small, dog-like relatives of hyenas and are mostly nocturnal as they spend the day in their underground burrows.
Where to find them: aardwolves are found throughout eastern and southern Africa, except in the south along the cost. They are mostly found in the grasslands of Botswana, Karoo and the Northern Cape. To increase your chances of seeing an aardwolf stay at Kwandwe Private Game Reserve.
Fun fact: an aardwolf's diet mainly consists of termites and can eat up to 300,000 termites a night!
Aardvarks look like pigs but with rabbit like ears and a tail of a kangaroo. These bizarre creatures are nocturnal which makes them even more difficult to spot.
Where to find them: aardvarks live throughout Africa, south of the Sahara. To increase your chances of seeing one of these bizarre creatures, stay at Kwandwe Private Game Reserve.
Fun fact: aardvarks don't chew their food but swallow it whole instead.
Melanistic leopards, otherwise known as black panthers, are extremely rare with only around 11% of leopards globally being black.
Where to find them: The Loisaba Conservancy in Kenya, with rangers at Elewana Lobo Springs Camp reporting more frequent sightings.
Fun fact: Melanism is the result of a gene that causes a surplus of pigment in the skin or hair of an animal so that it appears black.