So you thought you saw everything there was to see on your past safari trips? Think again. You’d be surprised how much your untrained eyes miss when viewing the creatures that inhabit the natural landscapes of the continent. So look again and look harder, here are the most hard to spot animals and insects of Africa.
Picture yourself having a picnic under a gorgeous tree and nearby you spot a pile of crunchy dead leaves. You pick them up to make room for your picnic and a leaf suddenly comes alive in your palm, wiggling its way out to safety. Congratulations, you met the Ghost Mantis, the insect with the astonishing ability to blend into its background. They can change their color from leafy brown to bright green, making them one of the most easily missed creatures in the world. It also doesn’t help that their bodies share a resemblance and texture of leaves.
Leaf Tailed Gecko
The leaf tailed gecko is joining the “lets look like a leaf” club with the ghost mantis. Also mistaken frequently as a leaf or a tree, the gecko almost always escape people’s attention by blending in. They are strictly endemic to Madagascar and their crypsis ability allows them to avoid any potential predators (except us humans who contribute to deforestation). They are under threat in the illegal pet trade due to their unusual looks.
You’d think because of their spots they’d be easy to spot (no pun intended), but leopards are actually easy to miss to the untrained eye. They may not have the crypsis ability to change their coloring but they are champions at hiding. Leopards will slowly sneak up to their prey by hiding behind tall grasses, inching closer every chance they get before making their attack. They also will find trees with thick branches to conceal them easily as they lounge the day away.
Satanic Leaf-Tailed Gecko
This is the leaf-tailed gecko’s evil stepbrother. The Satanic Leaf-Tailed Gecko is another fascinating creature of Madagascar that’s easily missed. Thanks to its leaf-like and tree bark-like body. They are only found in Madagascar and they use their crypsis ability to their advantage when hunting for food. As if their skin wasn’t interesting enough, the geckos also have super long tongues which they use to self-clean their eyes when they get dusty or dirty.
You’ll find the scops owl (or will you?) in many parts of the world, including Africa. Scops owl have a grayish brown hue to their feathers that allows them to blend in with most trees. They’ll spend their time hiding in the tall trees, hidden out of sight and waiting for their next kill when an unsuspecting creature doesn’t see them. But once you’ve spotted a scops owl, thank your lucky stars for catching an incredibly hard-to-find species.
The giant tortoises are commonly found in Seychelles and are some of the main animal attractions on the islands. However, other than visiting the giant tortoise sanctuary, you might instantly mistake them for one of the gigantic rocks that are plastered all over the island of the same coloring. But for a guaranteed way to find them on the beaches without missing them, head to the Aldabra Atoll where you’ll see hundreds of giant tortoise that makes it their year-round home.
You didn’t think we were going to do this slideshow without mentioning the chameleon, the most iconic reptile known for changing its colors? You’ll find them (if you look hard enough) in various parts of Africa where they change their skin colors to blend in with a leaf or a tree. Chameleons are also known for their stereoscopic vision which allows them to spot their dinners before lashing out its super long tongue to catch them. Beware of the chameleon, the king of hiding.
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