It’s the rainy season currently at Kapama and with rain comes lots and lots of mud, (great for the wildlife, but interesting for the rangers and their vehicles.) Animals like rhino, buffalo, and warthogs are big lovers of mud. For our White Rhino, who have roughly two centimeter thick skin, mud is a way of cooling down after a hot and humid summer’s day. They cannot roll all the way over so they will first plop down one side and squelch around, and then flop onto the other. They then push their horns into the mud as well and when they are finished they find a nice tree, or log, to scratch, itch, and rub against. For buffalo, the mud plays a large part in ridding them of irritating skin parasites. They will roll themselves entirely in a healthy coating of dark mud and let it dry, thus suffocating any skin nuisances. Warthogs also use the mud to cool and get rid of ticks and fleas. Elephants will pick up mud with their trunks and throw it against their bodies, leaving a nice thick covering to help protect them from the summer sun’s hot rays.
After the animals have finished rubbing any excess off, we as rangers and trackers can use these signs to determine which animal, and depending on the age of he mud, at what time they have passed by that tree, or log. The wildlife tends to go to certain mud, or water holes, and will leave coat after coat of mud around the perimeter. The wet clay will also get stuck to their feet, and one can track them through grass, roads, and paths using the muddy residue left behind.
By: Noelle DiLorenzo – Kapama River Lodge Ranger