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Posts Tagged ‘ Kruger Park ’

Wild Planet Safari – 4 Day Kruger Tour – February 2016

Posted on: March 21st, 2016 by Wild Planet Safari

Banded Mongoose – The Bushveld Gangsters

Posted on: August 28th, 2015 by Wild Planet Safari

Banded Mongoose are small carnivorous mammals with a long body and tail. They have a large head for their size and small ears. Banded Mongoose have a series of dark, narrow stripes that run across the back from behind the shoulders to the base of the tail. These stripes or `Bands` are responsible for their common name. They have a long haired tailed that ends in a thin dark tip. Banded Mongoose can grow to a length of about about 60 cm and can weigh up to 1,5 Kg.

Banded Mongoose showing teeth

Banded Mongoose diet consists mainly of insects, they also enjoy a mix of fruit, spiders and a variety of small vertebrates. Banded Mongoose are quickly habituated to human presence and are often found stealing food from campsites and rubbish dumps. On a recent trip to Kruger National Park in South Africa our guests were relaxing in the bungalow with the doors open due to the extreme summer heat. We rushed to assist them after hearing screams of panic. To the guests and our surprise a pack of Banded Mongooses had entered the bungalow and were hastily searching the place for any available snacks that were within reach. There were about 20 of them inside and it took a long time to round them up and get then to leave.

Banded Mongoose in the room

They also enjoy eating eggs when they can be found. They are very clever animals and have a very unique way of breaking the eggs open. The mongoose will hold the egg in the forearms and throw it between the legs onto a hard object such as a rock. The egg will crack on the rock and the mongoose will enjoy the meal.
I was once given an orphaned Banded Mongoose to transport to a new home in Zimbabwe. The mongoose was only 3 months old but already had a huge appetite. He would sit on my shoulder and constantly cry for food, if he did not get any insects he would start to nibble on my ear. I would actually spend more time searching for insects than I would driving him to his new home. I had to find a way to keep him busy while I was driving. I remembered I had a golf ball in the vehicle and stopped to find it for my little friend. His excitement when he saw the golf ball was something to witness as he thought it was a nice big egg! I handed over the golf ball and he would spend the rest of the journey throwing it around the truck trying to crack open his `Egg`, this kept him busy and allowed me to focus on driving.

Banded Mongoose

Banded Mongoose are highly social and live in packs from a dozen to about 30 individuals, the largest pack recorded was in Kruger National Park and had 75 individuals. They sleep together in dens which may be in dead trees or holes in termite mounds. They will wake up at sunrise and lie in the sun close to their shelter until they warm up. They will then go out in search for food, if they are in a large group they will split up and forage in smaller groups.

Gang of Mongoose

Food is located by sight and smell, as the group separate in search for food they constantly keep in contact with a continual high pitched, birdlike chatter. Banded Mongoose do not post a sentry to keep watch, rather they rely on each individual to keep vigilant. If one mongoose spots a threat it will give a sharp twittering call to warn the rest of the pack, they will then stand up on their hind-legs to look around and locate the danger before they disappear into dense vegetation, down holes or to some other safe place. If there is sudden danger they will immediately scatter  at full speed to the nearest cover. Banded Mongoose will readily defend themselves and each other against predators.

On one occasion I saw a dog catch a young mongoose, the pack went into a frenzy of twittering and chased the dog down. The mongooses pushed together and charged the dog, the dog then dropped the mongoose from his jaws as he started to bark. The captured mongoose dropped to the ground and immediately joined the pack of advancing mongooses. The entire pack then slowly withdrew to safety after successfully saving the young pack member.

Banded Mongoose Standing up

Banded Mongoose will from mating pairs and mating is synchronised in the pack. This allows the females to give birth at the same, most of the time they will give birth on the same night. A female will then suckle any of the babies and shows no favouritism  to her own baby. The babies will drink milk for the first 5 weeks, during this time they will stay at the den with one or two females while the rest of the pack forage for food. After 5 weeks they will travel with the pack and younger males will catch insects and teach them to forage. The adults are very protective over the babies and if danger threatens they will from a circle around the young and move off slowly in a unit.

Banded Mongoose with baby Banded Mongoose with baby

Banded Mongoose are very entertaining animals to watch and photograph, during the day the are always on the move and you never know when they might pop in for a visit. Just be sure to keep any snacks out of reach from the bushveld gangsters or it will be stolen.

Banded Mongoose Banded Mongoose

Klipspringer – The Bushveld Ballerinas

Posted on: August 14th, 2015 by Wild Planet Safari

Klipspringer are a seldom seen and often over-looked African Herbivore. They are a delightfully attractive antelope and can be a special sighting on any South African Safari. The name Klipspringer is an Afrikaans name, translated to English it is 'Rock Jumper'. This is a very suitable name for the animal as it perfectly describes the habitat and unique behaviour of the Klipspringer.

In South Africa, Klipspringer can be found in the mountain fynbos areas to the West and the rocky koppies in the woodlands and savanah areas to the East. They stand on the very tips of their hooves which are cylinder shaped and specially adapted to life in rocky territories. They are sometimes referred to as the 'bushveld  ballerinas' because of the way they jump and land on their tip toes. The hooves are like a hard rubber that can mould to the rock for extra grip as well as absorb the shock of their boulder leaps.

Klipspringer

Klipspringer

Look closely at the hooves and you can see the Klipspringer standing on the tip of the toe.
Klipspringer are relatively small and grow to a height of 60cm/ 22 Inches. This puts them in a group called dwarf antelope and visitors to the bush often mistake the adults as baby antelope. Their coat varies in colour and contains shades of grey, black, brown and rusty red. This creates a speckled colour often referred to as 'salt and pepper'. This speckled camouflage is perfect for blending in with colours of the granite rocks. The hairs are hollow, this has a double effect for the Klipspringer. The hollow hair can be a cushion that will protect the Klipspringer from smashing on the rocks during a fall and from sharp sections of the rock. The hollow hair also helps the Klipsringer to deal with the huge range in temperature that can be found in their rocky territories. The hair will also shake and rattle when the Klipspringer is alarmed.

Klipspringer live in Monogamous pairs in very small territories, however the offspring may stay with the parents in areas with exceptional food source. In South Africa only the males have horns which grow between 10 and 15cm in length. Klipspringer eat a variety of leaves, flowers, fruit and lichens. They will eat grass in the wet season and different succulents throughout the year. Klipspringer do not need any drinking water they can survive on the water they absorb from the plants they eat and from the moisture they get from licking rocks.

Klipspringer

Klipspringer

Klipspringer mark and defend their territories and can often be seen standing on a projected rock to show their presence. They mark their territories by inserting small twigs from low bushes into their pre orbital glands, this leaves a sticky black secretion on the twig which is marked many times.
The Pre Orbital Gland is the black patch at the front of the eyes.
Klipspringer need to be on the look out for predators such as leopard, baboon, caracal and eagles. There will always be one Klipspringer watching while the other is feeding.  If they spot a predator they will will release a sharp whistle as a warning to their partner and to show the predator it has been spotted.
On a recent trip to Kruger we heard the whistle alarm call of a Klipspringer, we have seen this particular Klipspringer many times in the past. Once we located the male we followed his eyes directly to a wandering leopard. The Klipspringer are so fast and nimble in their habitat that can easily avoid danger once it is sighted.
It is very rare for an established mating pair of Klipspringer to leave their territory and their territories are so small and unique in the bushveld that we often see the same pair when we are passing by their koppies. We will be sure to introduce you to the Bushveld Ballerinas when you join us on your next South African safari.

Klipspringer

Klipspringer are a seldom seen and often over-looked African Herbivore. They are a delightfully attractive antelope and can be a special sighting on any South African Safari. The name Klipspringer is an Afrikaans name, translated to English it is 'Rock Jumper'. This is a very suitable name for the animal as it perfectly describes the habitat and unique behaviour of the Klipspringer.

In South Africa, Klipspringer can be found in the mountain fynbos areas to the West and the rocky koppies in the woodlands and savanah areas to the East. They stand on the very tips of their hooves which are cylinder shaped and specially adapted to life in rocky territories. They are sometimes referred to as the 'bushveld  ballerinas' because of the way they jump and land on their tip toes. The hooves are like a hard rubber that can mould to the rock for extra grip as well as absorb the shock of their boulder leaps.

Look closely at the hooves and you can see the Klipspringer standing on the tip of the toe.
Klipspringer are relatively small and grow to a height of 60cm/ 22 Inches. This puts them in a group called dwarf antelope and visitors to the bush often mistake the adults as baby antelope. Their coat varies in colour and contains shades of grey, black, brown and rusty red. This creates a speckled colour often referred to as 'salt and pepper'. This speckled camouflage is perfect for blending in with colours of the granite rocks. The hairs are hollow, this has a double effect for the Klipspringer. The hollow hair can be a cushion that will protect the Klipspringer from smashing on the rocks during a fall and from sharp sections of the rock. The hollow hair also helps the Klipsringer to deal with the huge range in temperature that can be found in their rocky territories. The hair will also shake and rattle when the Klipspringer is alarmed.

Klipspringer live in Monogamous pairs in very small territories, however the offspring may stay with the parents in areas with exceptional food source. In South Africa only the males have horns which grow between 10 and 15cm in length. Klipspringer eat a variety of leaves, flowers, fruit and lichens. They will eat grass in the wet season and different succulents throughout the year. Klipspringer do not need any drinking water they can survive on the water they absorb from the plants they eat and from the moisture they get from licking rocks.

Klipspringer mark and defend their territories and can often be seen standing on a projected rock to show their presence. They mark their territories by inserting small twigs from low bushes into their pre orbital glands, this leaves a sticky black secretion on the twig which is marked many times.
The Pre Orbital Gland is the black patch at the front of the eyes.
Klipspringer need to be on the look out for predators such as leopard, baboon, caracal and eagles. There will always be one Klipspringer watching while the other is feeding.  If they spot a predator they will will release a sharp whistle as a warning to their partner and to show the predator it has been spotted.
On a recent trip to Kruger we heard the whistle alarm call of a Klipspringer, we have seen this particular Klipspringer many times in the past. Once we located the male we followed his eyes directly to a wandering leopard. The Klipspringer are so fast and nimble in their habitat that can easily avoid danger once it is sighted.
It is very rare for an established mating pair of Klipspringer to leave their territory and their territories are so small and unique in the bushveld that we often see the same pair when we are passing by their koppies. We will be sure to introduce you to the Bushveld Ballerinas when you join us on your next South African safari.

Click Here if you are interested in Joining Wild Planet on a Private Kruger Safari

White Rhino Mother Teaches Baby Defense.

Posted on: August 5th, 2015 by Wild Planet Safari

Life lessons in the wild can be very harsh and extreme but are necessary for the growth and development of all young animals. As humans our parents need to teach us about certain dangers in life and how to deal with or avoid hazardous situations at a very young age. Animal parents need to pass on similar knowledge and teach their young how to deal with a wide variety of threats.Watching a mother animal interacting and teaching her baby one of theses lessons can be one of the most exciting, scary and heart warming experiences one can witness in the wild.
On a recent Wild Planet Safari in June, our guests got to enjoy one of the wilds most important lessons - How to defend against a predator.
On this particular occasion the teacher was a mother White Rhino, the student was her calf and the predator was a young Spotted Hyena.

It was at the crack of dawn on an overcast day, unfortunately this made video capture nearly impossible and poor conditions for photography. The white rhino were enjoying a drink from the waterhole when the spotted hyena approached. Hyena are very inquisitive and always on the look out for a meal. The hyena came straight for the white rhino calf, the mother  white rhino kept a close eye on the hyena as it approached. The white rhino calf then instinctively moved to the opposite side of the mother, keeping in the safety zone behind the bulk of the large female.

White Rhino Mother Teaches Baby Defense White Rhino Mother Teaches Baby Defense

The mother White Rhino had noticed the young age of the hyena and decided this was the perfect time for a life lesson. She slowly turned back to the waterhole and continued to drink giving her calf a moment to show his bravery. The calf was not yet brave enough to take control of this situation and it required a small shove from the mother to get the lesson underway. The white rhino calf then gave the hyena a small mock charge.

White Rhino Mother Teaches Baby Defense White Rhino Mother Teaches Baby Defense

The hyena was caught off guard by the brazen calf and made a short retreat. This encouraged the young white rhino and gave him the boost he needed to see off the threat. Just as the calf thought he had succeeded in chasing off the hyena, the hyena turned back for a closer inspection.

White Rhino Mother Teaches Baby Defense White Rhino Mother Teaches Baby Defense

The white rhino calf stood his ground under the watching eye of his mother. A tense stand off followed, neither the calf or the hyena were willing to back down.

White Rhino Mother Teaches Baby Defense

Suddenly the hyena circled around the calf and came between the mother white rhino and her calf.

White Rhino Mother Teaches Baby Defense White Rhino Mother Teaches Baby Defense White Rhino Mother Teaches Baby Defense

The white rhino calf then made a hasty retreat to the safety of the mother. The mother was satisfied with the day`s lesson and one big grunt and horn swipe was enough to send the hyena hurtling into the bush.
The entire lesson took close to 15 minutes and for the entire time we were all mesmerized by the action. A rare occasion like this is what makes a lasting impression and lifetime memory for our guests and it is what inspires us as guides to keep learning the lessons of the wild.

White Rhino Mother Teaches Baby Defense

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