Having previously delved in to the rarity of aardvarks and the difficulty of seeing one in the flesh, I was filled with mixed emotions when I saw my first one. It had been a relatively cool, overcast but windy afternoon. As we approached a herd of impala, two males started alarming, staring into a thicket off to the side of a clearing. The rest of the herd ran away from the vehicle, stopped 60m away and alarmed at the vehicle instead. Scanning the bushes in the direction in which the two males, still in place half-heartedly alarming, we couldn’t see anything.
We decided to drive off-road and have a closer look. At first, there was absolutely nothing in the direction they were looking. But on driving further around, about 1oo metres to the left of where the impala were looking we found a male lion; the Ottawa male. We presumed that in the swirling wind the impalas could smell the lion and chose to alarm, pre-empting any danger.
The Ottawa male had a kill, although through the grass it was initially difficult to see what he was eating.
At first it looked like a warthog, then possibly a hyena, and it was only in the feeding process of repositioning it that he revealed the fact that it was actually an aardvark!
Aardvarks are pretty much strictly nocturnal in this area. Yet, midway through the afternoon drive, this kill looked relatively fresh. The blood was bright red and it didn’t smell too bad, leaving us with a lot of questions. Had he stumbled across an already dead aardvark? Had he stolen it from another predator? Or caught it himself? If so how long ago? Either way there was an aardvark.
The coolness of the day could explain the brightness of the blood and lack of smell. It was a difficult one to know for sure; we would have expected him to have eaten a bit more if he had caught it the night before. Maybe he stolen it from another predator, but there was no sign of any other predator nearby. I’m sure if I had a meal stolen by a large male lion I wouldn’t hang around too much longer afterwards either.
One thing that we were sure of is that the aardvark had clearly been killed by a predator. Its throat had obvious puncture wounds, inflicted by canines, and a stream of blood that ran down from the two punctures. These would be absent if the aardvark had been found dead and unlikely to be present if it was a hyena. They do not suffocate prey to kill it.
It is very difficult to know exactly what the sequence of events entailed, and the Ottawa male made short work of what was left of the aardvark. The following morning he was nowhere to be seen. It was such an interesting turn of events and at least I there is evidence of aardvarks being around.
Sadly however, their numbers are now reduced by one, making it even harder for me to see my first!
Filed under General Nature Lions Safari experience Wildlife
Amazing sighting even if it is a half consumed aardvark. The first african wildcat we saw was unfortunately one lying dead next to the road. I believe it still count as a sighting. Still hoping for an aardvark, pangolin and caracal.
I can understand your mixed emotions very well. A lion must live and eat, naturally. However, that the kill has been an aardvark -of all animals- is really a pity. They are so rare. I only had a fleeting glance of one once. That’s nature, though…
What an Amazing Siting!
very sad !!!
I still have to see one ,so i have now a metal one in the garden 🙂
Wow, Sean what an unusual sight !! With all the lovely young game on offer right now, it was sad to see that the Ottawa male had picked the aardvark of all things. Bad timing I suppose but a shame. Good luck seeing one for real soon 🙏🏻💕
Very interesting post, but as you say, sad too since aardvarks seem to be in short supply! Thanks for sharing the story. The photos do a great job of supporting your theory that probably the lion killed the aardvark.
Also dying to see an Aardvark.
Saw one once on Wildearth being eaten by a leopard in a tree but that doesn’t count.
In 40 years of visiting the bush, I have seen 1 pangolin, but the Aardvark eludes me.
Let’s hope we see one soon
Sean, I saved the aardvark🤗
very sad… but that’s human fail to protect nature and cause unbalance and loss. Gorgeous images of the lion, hopefully next time you will take pictures of them alive
My fervent wish after 20 odd years of annual safaris has been to see an aardvark. On my first visit to Londoz in 2015, I requested it, half joking, as I didn’t expect it. We did see some tracks on a walk. I’m still hoping…
Wow – when was that? Shame not to see it alive that would have been epic!
OOOOH ! what a sad event. More than 30 stays at Londolozi and not a single aardwark sighting… shame.
Cool sighting but what a bummer, hoping to see an Aardvark sometime too…alive!
After we left you in 2019, we went to Tswalu where there was an abundance of aardvarks. Quite interesting.
Hope to see you in July!
It’s so sad you finally saw the aardvark, but not what what you’d hoped for after so many drives. I know it’s fair game by predators, but this was so tragic due to the shrinking population in the wild. Next time…..
Sean thanks for the update. Sad that your first one had to be found like that! We have only seen one ourselves and unfortunately it had been killed by a leopard and was hanging in a tree! We can all keep hoping for a live one, right?
Yes, this is difficult to look at.
Theory’s abound: 2017 drought, starvation, up eating in daylight, making them more vulnerable to predators.
Oh how sad, they don’t have much in the way of protection either! It’s a tough life for the poor aardvarks! 🙁
Hi Sean, thanks for your report on the killed aardvark. I wish you will see one alive sometimes. We had my wife and I the opportunity to watch one coming to a waterhole in Namibia a few years ago (beggining of August 2015). It was our last night in Namibia after a 3 weeks tour. We were alone in Eningu Clay House south east of Windhoek. Lovely night. Amazing animal.
A poignant sighting to be sure, but a serendipitous one in its own natural way. Thanks for the post Sean!
so sad!!! 😢Victoria
This should have been a incredible experience to witness such a rare specie.
Unlucky for you Ranger Sean, your first Aardvark was a dead Aardvark.