Africa's Elusive Eleven

edward leopard kill d800

The leopard tends to be called 'elusive' but it depends which park you are visiting. In the Kruger we have seen many leopards, while in Etosha they can be scarce!

This page is about the animals that are scarce in all the parks!

The Elusive Eleven are primarily nocturnal animals that are rarely seen in African National Parks and Game Reserves. Only the sidestriped jackal is not nocturnal but you may be fortunate to see one of these animals by day either at dawn or dusk.

If you get to see one or more of these elusive eleven animals while on safari then you have been massively blessed!

Here they are in alphabetical order...

1. Aardvark

The Aardvark is a medium-sized African mammal. Its name comes from the Afrikaans/Dutch for "earth pig" (aarde earth, varken pig), because early European settlers thought it resembled a pig.

Aardvarks are nocturnal, usually waiting until dark before they emerge from their burrows to feed on ants and termites.

We are yet to see an Aardvark.

2. Aardwolf

The aardwolf is a small mammal that looks like a striped hyena and is found in Eastern and Southern Africa. The name means "earth wolf" in Afrikaans/Dutch.

Unlike other hyenas, the diet of the aardwolf almost completely consists of termites, which it feeds on at night.

We have seen them primarily in Namibia while staying at Toko Lodge.

3. African Civet

African Civet

In our first ten years of visiting the various African game reserves we saw no civets. Then from 2007 We had about seven civet sightings - all in Punda Maria camp at night while we are braaing!

4. African Wild Cat

African wildcat

We have seen African wild cats primarily in the Kgalagadi and Etosha - 2 sightings in Etosha and 2 in the Kgalagadi.

One lived under our dune cabin at Kielie Krankie wilderness camp and we would see her nearly every day. We would return from our game drive to find her at our front door!

5. Bushpig

The Bushpig is a member of the pig family and is found in East and Southern Africa. Bushpigs are mainly nocturnal and therefore are seldom seen during the day.

We have not seen a bushpig in the wild.

6. Caracal

Caracal waiting to ambush a steenbok

We have had just three caracal sightings - two in the Kruger Park, one near Satara camp and the other near Crocodile Bridge and one at Kielie Krankie wilderness camp in the Kgalagadi, where it was waiting to ambush a steenbok.

Check out our interview with Jim Zuckerman as he has an amazing portrait of a caracalthat he photographed in Namibia while doing a photographic workshop...


7. Honey Badger

Honey Badger

For our first 10 years of visiting African national parks we saw no honey badgers but then we saw our first one in the Kruger Park near Olifants camp. Since then we have had 7 other sightings in the Kruger - one near Punda Maria, two more near Olifants and a few in Tamboti camp - you can see the images and view a video on the camp page. We have also seen them in Halali camp in Etosha.

8. Pangolin

We are yet to see a pangolin. Check out our interview with Nigel Dennis - he captured this superb photograph of a pangolin in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park...

ND Pangolin

9. Porcupine

Porcupine in the Kalahari

We have seen just three porcupines in all the years we have been visiting game reserves. We saw our first one at Tamboti camp in the Kruger park, our second one at Halali waterhole in Etosha and the third at Kielie Krankie wilderness camp in the Kalahari.

The first two were too fast for us to photograph but we got the third one...

10. Serval


We found this serval at Rietvlei Nature Reserve - our first sighting in 25 years of photo safaris!

Also, check out our interview with Daryl Balfour as he has included a wonderful photograph of two servals that he took in the Kruger Park.

11. Sidestriped Jackal

Sidestriped Jackal

The sidestriped jackal can be confused with the blackbacked jackal - the sidestriped does not have a black back as you can see from the photograph above.

It is easy to correctly identify animals such as side-striped/black-backed jackals or servals/cheetahs/leopards when you know what to look out for.

We have seen three of these sidestriped jackals - one in the Pilanesberg and the other two in the Kruger Park.

So, of the elusive eleven we have seen six of them (most were fleeting sightings at night) and we are still hoping to see the other five of the elusive eleven!

Return from Elusive Eleven to Big Five page

New! Comments

Have your say about what you just read! Please leave us a comment in the box below.

To make a safari rental booking in South Africa, Botswana or Namibia click here

"It's 764 pages of the most amazing information. It consists of, well, everything really. Photography info...area info...hidden roads..special places....what they have seen almost road by road. Where to stay just outside the information. It takes quite a lot to impress me but I really feel that this book, which was 7 years in the making, is exceptional."            - Janey Coetzee, South Africa

Photographer's Guide to Etosha

"Your time and money are valuable and the information in this Etosha eBook will help you save both."
-Don Stilton, Florida, USA

"As a photographer and someone who has visited and taken photographs in the Pilanesberg National Park, I can safely say that with the knowledge gained from this eBook, your experiences and photographs will be much more memorable."
-Alastair Stewart, BC, Canada

"This eBook will be extremely useful for a wide spectrum of photography enthusiasts, from beginners to even professional photographers."
- Tobie Oosthuizen, Pretoria, South Africa

Manyeleti Big Cat Safari

Photo Safaris on a   Private Vehicle - just You, the guide & the animals!