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Honey Badger

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Last Updated on Tuesday, 04 September 2012 14:23

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Warthog

Warthogs..............................Phacochoerus africanus
 
The Common Warthog is most appropriately named because it is the most common sight here on Okonjima, and sometimes the most comical too, whether it be a line of "grey aerials", decreasing in size, moving rapidly through the grass or a side step dance between opponents! Usually one sees two or three females with their piglets together and the only way of knowing how many piglets each mother has is to count the enlarged teats as, generally, each piglet has its own teat.
 
 
warthog africat-1
 
The scenario changes when mating season arrives as then the large dominant males leave their solitary life or their exclusive Men's Club to join the females for a few weeks.
 
The males are much larger than the females (+/- 80 kg compared to +/- 50 kg) and stand about 10 cm taller at the shoulder. They have bigger tusks as well, especially the upper pair, which can grow to a record length of 60.9cm. Males also have an extra pair of warts lower down on the cheeks, and from behind there is no mistaking their sex!
 
 warthog okonjima
Warthogs have well-developed side whiskers which are long and white, presumably to resemble tusks. They also have a line of coarse dark brown or black hair along their neck and back. This can be raised if it is necessary to appear more ferocious. Warthogs have short legs and enlarged heads, so another very characteristic sight is to see them kneeling, which places their snouts comfortably on the ground for foraging. They are primarily grass eaters, including the roots, but also eat fruit and berries if they fall to the ground, as well as occasionally enjoying insects and even carrion. As their wrinkled grey skin is sparsely covered in bristles, warthogs love to wallow in mud both as a cooling mechanism and to assist in removing parasites.
 
Warthogs prefer open grasslands but are fairly widespread. They live in burrows, usually old aardvark burrows, which they enlarge to accommodate all the family members. As a means of self defence an adult warthog will always reverse into its burrow. Beware when out walking not to peer into an active burrow from the front in case the inhabitant comes shooting out like a rocket!

  
 warthog sleeping-africat
 
Breeding season and litter size vary with locality. On Okonjima it appears to mainly coincide with the rainy season and the average number of piglets is 3. Gestation is around five and half months. Small warthogs are very susceptible to changes in temperature as well as food shortages. They are also easy prey (and can a piggy squeak when caught!) even though their mothers can be fearless guardians. Consequently infant mortality is high.
 
Adult warthogs are generally only caught by lions and hyenas because their tusks can inflict nasty wounds and they are not afraid of using them if threatened.
 
Did you know that a group of warthogs are referred to as a sounder?    
 
 
 
 

Last Updated on Wednesday, 05 September 2012 10:03

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Greater Kudu

Greater Kudu – Tragelaphus strepsiceros


These are our “Ghosts” of the bush…..now you see them …..now they are gone!...They were there…..I promise !!

  

 kudu-africat-okonjima

 

The kudu is our most elegant, beautiful and majestic antelope with their enormous ears, large eyes and delicate step.
They are very adaptable and have managed to survive on most farmland in Namibia as long as enough cover remains. As kudu are good jumpers they manage most of the many fences that criss- cross Namibia!  Kudu prefer thick bush and or mountainous regions especially deep valleys, but as stated above are very adaptable as long as they have cover!
The white stripes on their sides are rather like our fingerprints! The number and pattern are unique to each individual.

 

kudu-okonjima-africat-reserve kudu-arficat-okonjima-reserve


Description 

·    Weight: Males weigh 190–270 kg (420–600 lb), with a maximum of 315 kg (690 lb)
                Females weigh 120–210 kg (260–460 lb)
·    Shoulder height – Males 180 cm (71 in)  -   Females 120 cm (47 in)
·    Gestation – 240 days
·    Calving generally starts between February and March though can be throughout the year
·    Young - 1
·    Lifespan :Females +- 14 yrs. Males  +- 7-8 yrs. This difference is thought to be due to the demands of the rutting and mating season.

Food

Predominantly browsers, mostly Acacia and Combretum spp. In summer they do graze on  the new green grass.

Habits

Active early morning and late in the afternoon, depending on food and predators.  
Females form family groups while males form bachelor herds. During mating season a dominant bull ( determined by size and fighting ability) will join a group of females.
Kudu are not territorial as are all Tragelaphines.

Predators

Leopards, cheetahs, lions, wild dog and hyaena.   

Last Updated on Friday, 07 September 2012 11:40

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African Wildcat

African Wild Cat – Felis silvestris lybica

African Wild Cat - Description:

The African Wild Cat is similar in appearance to a domestic cat; however, it is proportionally larger and has longer hind legs. Cats in the drier western portion of the subregion are a light sandy ground colour with brown or rufous markings. In the eastern potion, they are light grey with charcoal or black markings; there is a wide area with intermediate colouring. A dark stripe runs along the midline of the back and neck, 2 distinct stripes circle the neck and there are 6-7 vertical stripes on the flanks. The legs are banded; markings are more distinct on lower limbs. Relatively long tail dark-ringed with black tip. Chin and throat are while and the chest in typically more pale than the rest of the body. Belly typically reddish. Backs of ears are coloured a rich reddish-brown. The average shoulder height is 35 cm. Total length is 85-100cm, tail 25-37cm. Weight is anywhere from 2.5-6.0kg.

                

African Wild Cat – Habits, Behaviour and Social Organisation:

African Wild Cats are active at night and in the early mornings, and during the day in cool weather. These cats are solitary except when mating or when females are accompanied by kittens. Probably territorial depending on food availability. Spends most of the time on the ground, but is an agile climber and readily flees into tress if pursued.

            

African Wild Cats – Food and Hunting:

Feeds mainly on small rodents but they also eat small mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, insects and other invertebrates. Largest recorded prey is hares, springhares and birds up to the size of guineafowl. Also been known to feed jackal berries. Mice and rats are preferred, but if scare, they will switch to arthropods and birds. African Wild Cats detect prey by sight or sound, stalks in crouch with head low, using cover. They rush forward to prey and pounce with the claws of the forefeet. Precise killing bites are used; where they are directed depend on prey size.

            

African Wild Cat – Reproduction and Offspring:
Gestation: 65 days. Litter size: 2-5 cubs. Eyes open at 10-14 days. Kittens are born in the summer (September-March). Litters are born in dense vegetation cover, rocks or burrows dug by other species. Their mothers may carry them to a new refuge every few days

 

African Wild Cat - Adaptations:
The Grizzled pattern on coat helps camouflage the cat in its natural habitat

 

 

 

 

African Wild Cat – Population and Distribution: African Wild Cats are found throughout the subregion in all habitats except desert. They depend on cover to hide during the day. This includes holes in the ground, caves, rock crevices and burrows dug by other animals.

African Wild Cat Population in Namibia:
Current population estimate is unknown.

African Wild Cat– Conservation Status:
Red Data Book: Vulnerable. CITES: Appendix II.

Last Updated on Monday, 03 September 2012 09:35

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Aardwolf

Aardwolf.         Proteles cristatus
 
The name aardwolf  translates to earth wolf, as its sloping back puts it into the same family as the hyena, but this animal is totally insectivorous.
 
 
aardwolf-africat-okonjima-1
 
Termites are its main food source. Using its sticky tongue it can consume up to 200,000 termites per night, sometimes more in the winter months when the land is dry and the need for moisture greater.
 
Aardwolf stand higher at the shoulder, 50 cm, than the rump and, taking in the bushy tail, have a total length of about one metre, and weigh in at about 12 kgs. Its fur is light brown in colour with black stripes running down the body, the tail is mainly black as are the feet and muzzle. It has an erect mane that runs the entire length of the body, which can be raised when threatened to make it look larger.
 
The aardwolf is mainly nocturnal, thought to be solitary, but family groups do stick together. The pups can be born at any time of the year, but mainly autumn and spring. The litter can have up to four pups, weighing just under 500 grams each at birth. This after a gestation period of about 3 months, the pups will be fully independent at 4 months, but will stay around mum until the next mating, and will be sexually mature at 2 years.
 
Aardwolf live in burrows during the day, usually that have been made by other animals such as aardvark. These animals are territorial and mark using two scent glands at their rear, and this scent is also used to communicate with other aardwolf.
 
Its main threats come from inadvertent poisoning by farmers, usually while targeting other predators. Farm dogs also pose a threat, and in some areas the aardwolf is also hunted for its fur.
aardwolf-africat-okonjima-2
 
It prefers open dry plains and bushland, this is why harvester termites which feed on grass are its main prey species. At present, the aardwolf holds the classification of uncommon but secure.

Last Updated on Friday, 07 September 2012 11:03

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