For all guests staying at Kapama, we offer two game drives a day. One in the early morning, where guests can watch a beautiful sunrise, and the other in the late afternoon, with a mid-drive sundowner stop. The remainder of this game drive continues as the sun sets and under spotlight. The whole atmosphere is completely different at night. From Hyenas, to Chameleons and Aardvark to Pangolin. These interesting nocturnal creatures that might otherwise be overlooked, reveal themselves in their own special way. Sometimes the feeling of not knowing what might suddenly pop out from the bushes, adds a certain amount of excitement to the experience.
Our Buffalo Camp rangers shared a few stories of their night-time escapades that resulted in unique sightings, which made the night drive extremely rewarding.
Night Adventure 1
“One particular day, with a wonderful first half of a drive and our sundowner stop behind us, we set out again for the second half and evening part of our game drive. Positioned on the front seat, with the spotlight in hand, my tracker was all set.
The spotlight motioned from left to right, looking for something interesting. Not too long after we had been driving, we came across two porcupines, a mom and her baby. The mom quickly ducked behind a bush not wanting to be seen.
Lucky for us the young porcupine was much more relaxed and also a bit curious with what we were. Not moving, it just stayed in its position looking straight at us.
Porcupines are completely nocturnal and only move at night. They are the biggest rodent in South Africa, classified as such due to the structure of their teeth. They normally eat the inside of the bark of trees, removing the outer bark to get to the good part. They will also dig out the roots of various plants and flowers. The name porcupine is a combination of the Latin and French words for pig and spine. Head, neck, sides and underbody are all covered with dark bristly hair. A crest of very long coarse hair extends from the neck and shoulders and is erected when the porcupine is alarmed. The tail has hollow quills that serve as a rattle when shaken. Not wanting to disturb them for too long we left them to complete their night adventure and on we searched for more animals.
About after 10 minutes, we came across another animal that is very difficult to find, the Civet cat.
Fortunate for us he stopped and paused, looking at us just long enough to take a photo, before he ran off into the bushes. They are normally very shy and we usually only get a quick glimpse of a tail running away. Civet cats are completely solitary and only meet up for breeding. They are omnivorous and eats carrion, rodents, birds, eggs, reptiles, frogs, crabs, insects, fruits and other vegetation. They mark their territories and advertise their presence by frequently rubbing secretions from the perineal glands on objects close to the ground. This glandular secretion has a strong musky odour which can last up to three months. Despite their cat-like appearance and behaviour, the African civet is not a feline at all but in fact, more closely related to other small carnivores including Weasels and Mongooses.” – Ranger Ben
Night Adventure 2
“We were driving along a particularly straight section of the road when I spotted a very strange looking creature about 50 m ahead slowly meandering down towards us. It took a couple of seconds for my mind to figure out the shape at that distance, but when I did my heart skipped a beat. Not able to control my excitement I hushed to my guests “Aardvark! It’s an Aardvark!”
I slowed down, pulled over to the side of the road and switched the engine off. The Aardvark are unique creatures with long donkey-like ears, a flattened pig-like snout, short thick tail and hunched posture. They can weigh around 65 kilograms, but this one looked to be quite small compared to the ones I had seen before, so I assume it was a younger animal. Usually, they are skittish and one only ever catches a glimpse before it runs away into the safety of the darkness. This fellow, however, was as calm as a cucumber and walked right up to the side of our vehicle. It gave our tyre a quick sniff, the long snout rapidly moving about, and then wandered along behind us, it was the first time all my guests were able to snap a few pictures of this rare animal and even I pulled out my camera!”
No matter if you are out on an early morning, pre-sunset or after dark drive, each one offers its own unique wildlife experiences for guests to enjoy the wonders of nature.
Adventure and photos by Buffalo Camp Rangers