In our 214th Week in Pictures, we mentioned how trackers Jerry Hambana and Rob Hletswayo had tracked an aardvark back to what appeared to be its den. Diggings were all over the place, and upon visiting the area that afternoon I had to concur that there was probably no better spot to deploy a camera trap in the hope of photographing this elusive beast.

In TWIP 214 I mentioned that I have never actually seen a live aardvark, but I knew that should the camera trap be succesful, my hopes would be regalvanized and the deep south of Londolozi would be a great place to start the search.

After a week of waiting, allowing time for the camera trap to do its thing, Head Trainer Kate Imrie along with trainee ranger James Souchon went down to recover the pictures. Nervous anticipation was peaking as they brought the memory card to the computers. We were all hopeful, but fearful that our hopes would be dashed.
A few titters were heard as we clicked through the first few photos which showed James setting up the trap, but we could see in the preview window that the first black and white picture was approaching, and something had triggered the trap… would it be an aardvark?

We were all on the edge of our seats when this photo came up:

M2E1L0-0R350B300

The aardvark suddenly appears on camera. We think it must have emerged from the burrow just behind the base of the tree.

The screams of victory were deafening! Everyone was cheering, high fives were flying, and I’m pretty sure I saw James shed a tear. An aardvark, for all the world to see… well, for only the camera trap to see, but at least the creature was there. It actually exists! Just when I was about to lump it in with the Loch Ness Monster or an English football team World Cup victory, it revealed itself. Since I started at Londolozi only two have been seen in the flesh, and now we know where the real activity is, those of us who are still unable to tick a sighting can plan some night-time forays into the area in the (potentially forlorn) hope of maybe catching a glimpse of one.

M2E1L0-0R350B300

If one flips through all the photos, it is possible to see a pile of earth growing behind the creature as it excavates into the side of the termite mound.

M2E1L0-0R350B300

Investigating another hole.

M2E1L0-0R350B300

A last photo before the aardvark departs. The date is inaccurate (not calibrated on the trap), but the time tells us that the aardvark only emerged late at night (half past ten).

Hope rekindled, is how I can best describe the feeling of seeing the picture of the beast.

So where to next?

I’m sure a couple of night excursions into the area. A full moon, a quiet night, sitting in silence… waiting for the tell-tale rustling of an aardvark emerging from its burrow. The short grass length of this season tells heavily in our favour, but knowing how an aardvark can literally dig its way to freedom, I’m not going to be holding my breath that an individual emerges from the same burrow we know it’s hiding in. It is quite possible that such a secretive animal, knowing something is waiting for it on the outside, will simply excavate an alternate exit.
Will I ever get to see one? I don’t know. All I know is I’m suddenly really excited to try…

Filed under Wildlife

About the Author

James Tyrrell

Photographic Guide/Media Team

James had hardly touched a camera when he came to Londolozi, but his writing skills were well developed, and he was quickly snapped up by the Londolozi blog team as a result. An environment rich in photographers helped him develop the photographic skills ...

View James's profile

6 Comments

on Aardvark Caught on Camera!

Join the conversationJoin the conversation

David Bourceraud
Guest

Well done James it actually exists!!! Now it’s time for Andrea to catch the Otter on camera trap…

Ian Hall
Guest

Any chance of an otter?

James Tyrrell

Always a chance, Ian, always a chance…

gerard gaynor
Guest

Lol thank u Londolzi_for the Vaark blog_the Vaark a most rarely seen critter!_am a follower for a long time now_appreciate your efforts_lots of knowledge is gained :)_from Perth Western Australia

Chris
Guest

Thank you. While I of course enjoy the Londolozi blog for everything you post, for some reason, the aardvark touches me. Yes, there are the big guys….but this little one is special. Thank you!

Jill Grady
Guest

That’s great James! I love the images you managed to capture!! I hope Andrea gets some of her otter now!

Connect with Londolozi

Follow Us

Sign up for our Newsletters

One moment...
+
Add Profile