After watching the sunset with a glass of wine we continued with our safari. I explained to my guests what kinds of animals we could expect to see after dark. Everyone immediately thinks of lions, leopards etc. and some of our smaller nocturnal friends are often overlooked. This evening we found something different around every corner. Our first spot was a chameleon which my tracker Give saw from far away – very impressive! After that we saw a small spotted genet sitting towards the top of a dead tree. They often do this to escape a predator’s notice! They are carnivores and their usual diet consists of small mammals, amphibians, reptiles, birds, eggs, fish, invertebrates, and occasionally, small amounts of wild fruit. Genets will usually take their prey to a hiding spot to consume their meal in private. It was an unusual sighting because the genet was easily visible and not scampering around as they often are. So rather than just a quick glimpse we were all able to see the beautiful detail of the animal through our binoculars. Following that we saw a pair of African Civets foraging. They are solitary nocturnal animals and so we deduced that it was a mating pair. The civet has black bands surrounding its eyes and looks a bit like a raccoon. It also has disproportionately large hindquarters. Interestingly the civet is capable of eating poisonous invertebrates such as the millipedes, which most other species have to avoid. We also saw a pearl spotted owlet, one of our smaller owl species, perched in a tree, followed by a pair of bush babies. But by far the most exciting sighting and definitely the most unusual, was an aardwark!!!! He did not hang around for long but we managed to get quite a good look at him. Aardwarks usually wait until dark before emerging from their burrows and can travel as far as 18 km in one night!!!
Story by Sarah-Estelle Sangster, River Lodge Ranger,

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