I recently had guests visiting South Africa for the first time.
This was their first “safari” ever… we were driving down the road and bumped into a giraffe.
I was explaining to them all the bits and pieces… until I got a question…
“does a giraffe lay eggs”?
I was shocked, and I immediately told them, no they are mammals.
A question like that always makes me laugh….
Like the question I had about two weeks ago, “if leopards live in trees, how do you see their tracks?”
When you have been exposed to the bush and the wildlife, and had the opportunity to grow up in Africa, you take it for granted.
We laugh about silly questions like that.
But, when you actually think about it…. we had the opportunity and the exposure to most of these animals from a very young age.
We should be grateful to be living in such an awesome place, and that we have learned from a young age that giraffe doesn’t lay eggs…. that they are mammals. And that they give birth to live young. And while there are a few giraffe babies at the moment, that we should look at them with new eyes… and appreciate the fact that there isn’t two meter eggs lying around in the bush.
Another day has gone at Kapama, animal sightings have been excellent , but the most exciting moment was spotting an aardvark on game drive. Aardvarks live throughout Africa, south of the Sahara. Their name comes from South Africa’s Afrikaans language and means “earth pig.” A glimpse of the aardvark’s body and long snout brings the pig to mind. On closer inspection, the aardvark appears to include other animal features as well. It boasts rabbit like ears and a kangaroo tail—yet the aardvark is related to none of these animals.
Aardvarks are nocturnal. They spend the hot African afternoon holed up in cool underground burrows dug with their powerful feet and claws that resemble small spades. After sunset, aardvarks put those claws to good use in acquiring their favorite food—termites.
While foraging in grasslands and forests aardvarks, also called “antbears,” may travel several miles a night in search of large, earthen termite mounds. A hungry aardvark digs through the hard shell of a promising mound with its front claws and uses its long, sticky, wormlike tongue to feast on the insects within. It can close its nostrils to keep dust and insects from invading its snout, and its thick skin protects it from bites. It uses a similar technique to raid underground ant nests.
Female aardvarks typically give birth to one newborn each year. The young remain with their mother for about six months before moving out and digging their own burrows, which can be extensive dwellings with many different openings.
Average life span in captivity:
Head and body, 43 to 53 in (109 to 135 cm); Tail, 21 to 26 in (53 to 66 cm)
110 to 180 lbs (50 to 82 kg)
Did you know?
An aardvark’s tongue can be up to 12 in (30.5 cm) long and is sticky to help extract termites from the earthen mounds.
Today I had a game drive, without seeing one of the big 5. Its amazing when you actually have time to look for the little things. That you so easily miss when you chase after the big 5. We saw 3 different types of eagles, and the bonus was a goshawk with a spitting cobra in a knobthorn tree. It looked like the spitting cobra was too big for the goss hawk, so it was just watching it from a distance. Eventually the spitting cobra went into a hole. But we left the goshawk waiting for it to make an appearance. It just shows you, you can have an awesome drive without just focusing on the big things. And appreciate the little things that so easily get taken for granted.
This morning at the start of drive we had an extremely rare sighting of a honey badger fighting with a porcupine. Eventually the honey badger retreated into his hole with a couple of porcupine quills embedded in his head!!! Honey Badgers have a reputation for aggression and if they fee threatened they will attack – even much larger animals such as Spotted Hyena or Lions, or even humans! Because of this they don’t have much to fear themselves!
Four of our young lionesses killed a giraffe close to one of our dams. They were lying beside the kill with full stomachs when we arrived on the scene. Eventually they decided to go towards the dam for a drink when all of a sudden the vultures perched in the nearby trees waiting to scavenge swooped down towards the carcass and the lions changed their minds and went back o protect their kill.
Tonight we had a spectacular sighting of a female leopard and her two cubs. The cubs are not trained to hunt until they are about a year old so their mother killed an impala for them. The young male is cheeky and was clearly curious about us. Because we have respected these animals since they were first seen they are gradually becoming accustomed to the vehicles and are becoming relaxed in our presence.
Today one of our lionesses was found dead on the reserve. She was heavily pregnant and we can only presume that there were complications with the labour which caused her untimely death. She was around 8 years old and was the mother of some of the other young lions on the reserve. We are all extremely sad about her death but have to accept that nature takes its own course.
But where there is death there is new life and on a positive note our newly born elephant calf seems to be doing very well within the breeding herd. He is now 11 days old. We are having the opportunity to see him more and more as he occasionally emerges from the group. Infancy is a special and interesting time for all animals. A new-born elephant enters the world at an amazing weight of between 77 and 113 kg, with a height of about 91 cm tall. They can consume up to 12 litres of milk a day. For the first three months a young calf’s food intake is typically provided only by the mother. At the age of 2 years the young elephant will feed independently but milk remains an important part of the diet. Elephants are only fully weaned between 5 and 6 years old.
We are also having more sightings of the newest addition to our white rhino population who is now around 3 months old.