By Stefanie Rach
Anyone planning a safari will often hear about the “Big 5”: Elephant, rhino, lion, leopard and buffalo. Less well known are the “Ugly 5”, supposedly the five ugliest animals of the savannah. The warthog is one of them. Why this is so, however, is a mystery to me.
Warthogs are rather skittish animals. As soon as you meet them, they run away. All you can see are two round buttocks and a bristly tail sticking up like an antenna. This sight is just too funny! In fact, the tail is raised in a reflex, as it then serves as a “follow me” signal and no one from the warthog family gets lost on the run – which earned the warthog its nickname “Radio Africa”.
Warthogs got their name from the warts they have on their face. Females have two warts under their eyes. Males also have another pair above their mouths. The warts are growths of skin that serve as protection – especially when males fight over females. The upper tusks are long and curved, the lower ones are short but very sharp. Since, as a warthog, you don’t want to be poked in the face or cut by the lower ones, the warts serve as a kind of natural armour.
Out of the mating season, the males stick to themselves, while the females live together with their offspring, sisters and aunts. But they all meet again at the waterhole for their regular wellness programme. Warthogs love extensive mud baths and enjoy rubbing their muddy bellies and bottoms against stones and tree stumps
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