Written by: Chris Troch
While on holiday, I decided to walk along the suspension bridge trail in the Tsitsikamma National Park. About half way I came across a group of hyraxes at an outcrop of rocks right next to the trail. This group comprised about 15 individuals including juveniles which were seeking refuge in the rock cavities.
Since they are fairly common to the region, I did not give them much attention at first. However, when I passed them, I heard high-pitched vocal signals and they seemed to be very vigilant. After stopping and taking a closer look, I realised that all of them were trying to get a glimpse of something at the bottom of the rock outcrop.
Not sure what it was, I decided to stick around. After about 10 minutes of trying to get the best view through the dense vegetation, I saw the head of a puff adder, which must have been longer than a metre in length, rise up behind the rocks.
The snake was making its way up to where the juvenile hyraxes were hiding. As the snake came closer, one adult male hyrax kept a close eye on it.
The rest of the group kept their distance and continued to move away from the snake without ever actually leaving the rock outcrop. This went on for another 45 minutes, with the other hyraxes in the group – even the juveniles – coming in for a closer look.
Communication between the hyraxes seemed meticulous and I had the impression that they were never in real danger. The snake then gave up and disappeared into the vegetation.