Round three of the camera trap chronicles has been completed in the last while and this time we went in search of an Aardvark! These rare, nocturnal animals are very seldom seen. During my five years here I have had the privilege of seeing only one, roughly a year ago. The only other sighting of one since then was called in by Pat Grealy about a month ago and prior to these two findings, it had been three years since one was seen. It’s tough to tell how many are on the reserve but my guess would be that there are a fair amount more than what we would think. Their tracks and evidence of them foraging and feeding on termites are found fairly often but due to their secretive nature and nocturnal habits, our paths never seem to cross.
About two weeks ago, ranger Kelsey Clark and tracker Bennet Mathonsi came across some very fresh tracks of one of these elusive mammals that led them straight to a deep burrow on the bank of a dry riverbed. They were convinced that the Aardvark was in the burrow but couldn’t quite confirm it. This was a perfect opportunity to set the camera trap up again and see if we could capture a real rarity. We weren’t disappointed…
Kelsey, Bennet and their guests pay a visit to the aardvark burrow that they had found the day before. At this stage, according to what was captured on the camera trap, the aardvark was still inside the burrow and hadn’t emerged for nearly 48 hours.
Got’em! The first image we captured of the aardvark outside the burrow. Interestingly, the camera trap has been up for 3 days before the first photo of the aardvark was taken. Two possibilities stem from this; the aardvark was inside the burrow for all this time, feeding, resting and burrowing. This isn’t impossible as the weather over these days was extremely hot. However, I have a feeling that the sensor of the camera didn’t actually reach the burrow and might not have been triggered, especially if the aardvark climbed out and away from the camera.
He/she seemed to be moving past the burrow potentially looking for ants or termites to feed on in the river sand.
A large troop of baboons often moved past the camera. With the area being a dry riverbed, the trees are tall and perfect for the troop to forage under during the day and roost in during the night.
Grooming is a common social behaviour amongst baboons and not only helps maintain good health and cleanliness but reaffirms their bond. Here, a kudu bull can also be seen in the background. By this time of day (09:15) the temperature would have been climbing and the thick riverbed would have provided shelter from the sun for several species.
The baboons got up to all sorts of activities in front of the camera. If you look further beyond the mound you can see two baboons mating!
Pat Grealy and his shiny pick rounds pouch take a drive past the burrow. With his partner and tracker, Dorrence Khoza not present on the tracker seat, they were likely tracking an animal in the area.
Myself and Euce collecting the camera trap while out on a game drive with our guests. Euce had a good look at the burrow and couldn’t find any fresh tracks of the aardvark, however, we had received a light shower of rain the previous evening so the tracks could have been washed away.
Apart from some interesting baboon antics and a rare sighting of Pat and his pink pouch, the camera trap surprisingly didn’t capture all that much in the area. Nonetheless, an image or two of the elusive aardvark made it more special than most! We’ll be keeping an eye on the burrow in the coming days to see if the aardvark returns and maybe we can get our eyes on it one of these evenings.