🐾 Maybe the reason I love animals so much, is because the only time they have broken my heart is when theirs has stopped beating.

Saturday, 24 October 2009


The GEMSBOK or gemsbuck (Oryx gazella) is a large African antelope, of the Oryx genus. The name is derived from the Dutch name of the male chamois, Gemsbok. Although there are some superficial similarities in appearance (especially in the colour of the face area), the chamois and the Oryx are not closely related.

Gemsbok are light brownish-grey to tan in colour, with lighter patches to the bottom rear of the rump. Their tails are long and black in colour. A dark brown stripe extends from the chin down the bottom edge of the neck through the join of the shoulder and leg along the lower flank of each side to the brown section of the rear leg. They have muscular necks and shoulders and their legs have white 'socks' with a black patch on the front of both the front legs and both genders have long straight horns.

Gemsbok generally live in herds of up to 40 individuals, often in association with other species of antelope or with zebras. The males are often solitary animals, however. Active from dawn through nightfall, it feeds on grass and leaves, and can survive long periods without drinking any water. The horns are effective weapons. When fighting, the head is lowered between the forelegs in order to impale the enemy.

Introduction to North America

In 1969 the New Mexico State Department of Game and Fish decided to introduce Gemsbok to the Tularosa Basin in the United States. The introduction was a compromise between those who wanted to preserve nature and those who wanted to use it for profit and promotion. 93 were released from 1969 to 1977. The current population is estimated to be 3,000. The reason the Gemsbok thrived is because their natural predators, including the Lion, are not present.

They are also to be found in the Kalahari Gemsbok National Park, which is located between the borders of Namibia and Botswana. The park covers an area of a little less than 10,000 square kilometers. The Kalahari Gemsbok National Park and the adjacent Gemsbok National Park of Botswana together occupy as much as 36,000 square kilometers. Since there is no barrier separating the two parks, the animals move freely from park to park.

Friday, 9 October 2009

Safe & Sound


Unlike most mammals, hedgehogs lack the insulation of a warm fur coat. And keeping the body warm requires a lot of energy, so as it goes into winter and it gets ready for hibernation, the hedgehog's temperature drops from the normal 35ºC to that of its surroundings: 10ºC or less.

The hedgehog's winter nest, known as a 'hibernaculum', is made of grass and especially of leaves, which are weatherproof and long-lasting. The hedgehog brings leaves to the nesting site in its mouth, a few at a time. It makes a pile, adding new leaves to the centre; they are held in place by the surrounding support of twigs, brambles, brushwood, etc. It then burrows inside and turns round and round, packing the leaves flat and ending up with a warm chamber with walls up to 10cm thick.

Next winter, the hedgehog will make a new nest, even if the old one is still usable.

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Our Aardwolf in South Africa

(Photo © Ken Watkins)
When early Dutch colonial settlers arrived in Southern Africa, they were confronted by a strange sight, a small wolf-like creature that lived below ground and spent a large amount of time digging. They named it the ‘earth wolf’ or ‘aardwolf’. Although some farmers hunted it believing it to be a killer of livestock, and others hunted it for its pelt, many came to appreciate the animal, for one simple reason: in a single day it could eat hundreds of thousands of the termites that devastated their crops.

Unlike other hyenas, the diet of the aardwolf almost completely consists of termites and other insect larvae and carrion. Termites are the aardwolf's main dish and it is guided to them by its sharp hearing and keen nose. Using its incisor teeth, the aardwolf  laps up the termites with a large tongue which is covered with sticky saliva.

Aardwolves are shy and nocturnal sleeping in underground burrows by day. They usually use existing burrows of Aardvarks and porcupines, despite being capable of creating their own. By night, an aardwolf can consume up to 200,000 harvester termites using its sticky, long tongue. They take special care not to destroy the termite mound or consume the entire colony, which ensures that the termites can rebuild and provide a continuous supply of food. They will often memorise and return to nests to save the trouble of finding a new one.

Mice and ground birds are also included in its diet, and it is partial to the eggs of ground nesting birds.

Often mistaken for hyenas and struggling to survive in farmlands, aardwolf numbers have dwindled to worrying levels.

SIZE: Shoulder height 50cm, mass 9 kg.

The Aardwolf has a Sandy to yellow brown body with four to eight dark brown vertical stripes. Black feet and tail tip; a thick dorsal mane from the back of head to base of tail, which is tipped with black.

They are gentle and very timid animals, and are primarily nocturnal, although they may be active during the late afternoon if termites are available at that time. They often get caught in the beam of car headlights: many aardwolf are killed accidentally by cars. Due to its clumsy and slow movements it is often caught by predators. Aardwolfs generally do not drink surface water, as they get all of their water requirements from termites. They have been known, however, to drink water during cold spells when termites are not available.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...