SPONSORED CONTENT by Sausage Tree Safari Camp
Make no mistake about it, the human guests at Sausage Tree Safari Camp – or any lodge for that matter – are not the only visitors! Under the cover of darkness a whole new guest list is revealed as a variety of nocturnal creatures move through and around camp, going about their nightly business.
The beauty of staying in a tented camp like ours is that come nightfall you get to hear the incredible cacophony of sounds that make the African bush so mesmerising. There’s nothing that beats hearing lions and leopards calling, or the eerie “whoop” of the spotted hyena and the high pitched bark of the jackal while lying in your bed.
So what’s out there, in the darkness, moving around while you are asleep? Sausage Tree Safari Camp manager Eswe Ras asked himself this very question when he kept finding evidence of night-time guests at his house close to camp, and no small amount of damage to his garden. So he put up a camera trap to find out who the culprits were and as the images reveal there is clearly a veritable party going on outside!
“There’s been a camera trap at our waterhole in front of the camp for many years,” says Eswe. “We’ve seen amazing things on the camera, from African wildcat with kittens, to hippo and everything in between, but I wondered what was going on at my house and guide Matthew Sussens’ house which is immediately next to mine,” he adds.
The camera’s roll of honour includes the usual suspects like the African civet, genet and porcupine, but has also captured elephants and honey badgers inside and around the outskirts of the camp. While the results may not be too surprising, the regularity of the visitors and what they get up to has been a revelation.
“Every morning if you walk around camp before the guests are awake you will find the tracks of civet, genet and porcupine,” says guide Matthew. “Now we have honey badgers making regular visits to camp,” he says, adding that one miscreant badger even bumped into the glass door of a guest’s outside shower door while said guest was in the bathroom!
The camera trap shots are shared each day with guests at the camp, a lot of whom have no idea about these amazing little creatures of the night.
“Because we hardly ever see these animals out on a game drives, a lot of guests have no idea what they are or how fascinating these nocturnal animals can be,” says Matthew. “So showing them who’s in camp while they are asleep is very exciting for them, and makes them appreciate the wilderness that much more and understand that it’s about more than just the Big 5”.
Eswe originally assumed that the honey badgers were doing most of the digging and causing the majority of the damage to his garden, but the camera trap has shown him that the holes he is finding every morning are, in fact, being made by porcupines. “They are steadily eating their way through my plants,” he sighs.
While honey badgers are renowned for being extraordinarily difficult to manage in some safari camps and lodges, going to enormous lengths to get access to kitchens and rubbish bins or waste sites, the badgers at Sausage Tree Safari Camp seem to be a bit more low key and have not yet tried to chew or claw their way through the kitchen door.
“They seem a lot more skittish here in camp,” says Eswe. “They’ll take advantage of an open door or window, for sure, but so far are still wary of the human presence here,” he says, adding that it’s a huge relief for staff in camp that the badgers are not, well, badgering them. Given their penchant for being very grumpy and tenacious beyond belief, Eswe and his team are happy the badgers are thus far behaving themselves. “They’re just incredible little creatures, and we love them dearly, from a distance!”