Sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction. Case in point: African animals. Some of these creatures are just flat-out weird…

Bench Africa has over 50 years experience with these amazing animals, and are helping you get the 411 on the weird and wonderful facts that you may not have known.

Consider, for example, that…

 

1. Hippopotamus sweat actually performs a useful function…

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No, that isn’t a rare breed of red hippopotamus you’re spying from the jeep. If you’ve never been to Africa before, it may surprise you to learn that hippos often glow red during the day.

Believe it or not, hippos are extremely sensitive to the sun, despite living in Africa. But thankfully, evolution has conspired to programme these beasts with the speciality ability to secret their own type of sunscreen: a kind of red sweat that protects them from the harsh rays. Now, if only human sweat was actually useful…

 

2. Black and white rhinos are actually the same colour…

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Um, what? Contrary to what their names suggest, the black and white rhinoceros are actually, well, grey. It’s true, and there’s a funny story behind it.

If you’ve ever played Chinese whispers before, then you know how easy it is to mishear a word. When English settlers overhead the Dutch talk about these beastly animals upon their arrival to the continent, they mistook the Dutch word wijd — which means wide, because of the animal’s wide mouth — for white.

The name stuck. Then they called the other type of rhino “the black rhino,” because, well, it wasn’t white…

 

3. Honey Badgers take sleeping pills, kind of…

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You’ve heard of honey badgers, right? Also known as ratels, these tough little creatures are formidable foes out in the savannahs of Africa, despite their rather modest dimensions.

But even more impressive than their size-to-strength ratio is their unique ability to tolerate highly venomous snakes, which they eat as part of their diet.

Instead of dropping dead like the rest of us when bitten (which they inevitably are), honey badgers simply sleep it off and wake up well-rested with full bellies.

 

4. Some male lions like to keep their manes, well, minimal…

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Not all male lions like the “Hey, check out my glorious mane” look. For example, some lions, like the infamous Man-Eaters of Tsavo and their descendants, prefer a shorter cut.

And how could you blame them: daytime temperatures in Africa can be scorching and fringes just get in the way of seriously good hunting, anyway…

 

5. Giraffes are named after camels, sort of…

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Let’s set the scene. A group of scientists have convened around the dinner table and set themselves the task of giving the giraffe its scientific name before tucking into dessert and coffee.

They’ve already settled on the first half: Giraffa, a simple Latinisation of giraffe. But it’s its second part they’re not sure about, until the guy wearing the eye-patch clears his throat and offers the following: “I purport to suggest we call the creature Giraffa Camelopardalis because it has a long neck like a camel and patterned spots like a leopard.” The table agrees, and the rest is history.

 

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Want to see these majestic creatures for yourself? Seeing these animals up close is actually pretty easy. Just ask Bench Africa. With over 50 years’ experience leading immersive tours on the continent, Bench Africa is passionate about their corner of the globe, and they want to share it with you.

To explore more of the hidden secrets of Africa, contact Bench Africa today.

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Do you have any fun facts about African animals?

 

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