10 ugliest animals in Africa

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but some animals didn’t get the charming looks of others. We couldn’t decide which one of these animals is the ugliest. You can vote for the animal you think should wear the crown, by sending an email to animaltalk@panorama.co.za.

  1. Spotted hyena

If there was a beauty pageant for animals, the entire hyena family wouldn’t qualify, but the spotted hyena is possibly the ugliest of them all. Not even their babies are good-looking. Add to that: a horrendous laugh in the middle of the night; short back legs; and an awkwardly long neck. On top of that, this scavenger and hunter has a powerful jaw that can snap through bones as if they’re twigs. Not even in children’s animations are spotted hyenas ‘beautified’!

2. Warthog

Watching these pigs for a while will make you realise that they are real bush clowns. The warthog can suddenly spin around as if something touched his backside out of nowhere. He has the cutest trot and, when he runs away, his tail stands up – like an old car’s radio antenna – with his entire family following him. At least his ugly snout and tusks serve a purpose – he uses them to unearth roots to eat.

3. Black wildebeest

Not that the blue wildebeest is a beauty queen, but the black wildebeest is definitely the uglier of the two. Look at the black wildebeest’s face and you’ll wonder if movie producers perhaps used it as inspiration when they created hideous-looking aliens. His face looks like that of a bull, his legs are delicate like a buck’s and then he has a mane like a horse. It looks as if he was created from left-over body parts!

4. Lappet-faced vulture

This vulture looks like a shrike (a ‘butcherbird’) from old movies. His black wings and body feathers look like an oversized black coat, and then his pink neck has no feathers, making him look very weird. This endangered bird has a powerful beak to rip flesh off a carcass. Don’t freeze and play dead when you see this bird – run! Otherwise he might mistake you for his next meal.

5. Marabou stork

This is not the kind of stork that you would choose to bring your baby brother or sister home – especially knowing that he hangs around with vultures. The marabou stork is also a scavenger, eats small birds and prey, and occasionally eats faeces (that’s a fancy word for poo – yuck!). Although, it has been reported that he’ll ‘wash’ his food in water before he eats it. He is definitely the ugliest relative in the stork family.

6. Aardvark

Sometimes an animal is so ugly that he is cute, like the aardvark. You can’t help but feel sorry for him. With his huge ears, long snout with a pig-like nose at the end, and an odd-shaped body, he almost looks like a kangaroo gone wrong. His name is equally peculiar – meaning ‘earth pig’ in Afrikaans. The aardvark mainly feeds on ants and termites.

7. Crocodile

Not one of the 13 species of crocodile can claim to be pretty. The crocodile is the largest reptile on earth and has 64 teeth. Yet, he swallows his prey whole. He tears off pieces of meat by spinning around in the water. His jaw is incredibly powerful – he has the strongest bite of all animals. But, at the same time, his jaw is also extremely sensitive… the mother crocodile can carry her young from their nest to the water, without injuring them.

8. Geoffroy’s horseshoe bat

This is a face that only a mother can love. But then again, when you sleep during the day, live in caves and eat insects and fruit, who cares what you look like? At least these guys are not vampires and you don’t have to run away if you see one, or more likely, many, as there are thousands of them in a single colony.

9. Naked mole rat

Luckily, there aren’t mirrors underground. Although, the naked mole rat’s eyes are small and he closes them when he runs in underground tunnels, so it wouldn’t be a problem for him, even if there were. And who needs hair when you never see the sun? Definitely not the pink, naked (hairless) mole rat, who is, in fact, neither a rat nor a mole! This little critter has two pairs of huge teeth, which he can move independently, like chop sticks. Freaky…

10. Giant African bullfrog

One of the largest frogs, this guy can weigh up to 1.4kg, and can be as vicious as he is ugly. He has been known to bite people when handled. This bullfrog will eat just about anything he can fit into his mouth, including other frogs – even his own offspring!