The bush is always full of surprises, and sometimes the totally unexpected literally walks across the road in front of you.
We were sitting quietly with a very relaxed rhinoceros bull who was rolling in a small sandy patch, it was a beautiful warm afternoon in Madikwe Game Reserve, the light was slowly turning golden and we were all thoroughly enjoying our time watching this bull.
After a while, we decided that we would leave him and move on to see what else we could find. As I was checking my camera settings, I caught a glimpse of something crossing the road in front of us. Based on its size, gait and the time of day, I automatically presumed jackal and since these are fairly common, I didn’t get overly excited.
Our field guide, Jenna, also spotted it, and on looking again as it was moving through the long grass, I commented that the tail couldn’t be the tail of a jackal – it was far too thick and fluffy.
Jenna quickly realised that it was not a jackal, and as we moved forward to get a closer look it turned to look at us, and what we saw was a first for me in daylight hours – an aardwolf!
These beautiful creatures are normally very shy and nocturnal, but this individual was totally relaxed and was just out feeding in broad daylight.
Although related to brown hyenas, aardwolf feed primarily on termites and insect larvae. They live in monogamous pairs, and their offspring will also stay within their territory until ready to become independent.
I was surprised as to how small these creatures are, and how relaxed this particular individual was.
It moved through the area, investigating some small bushes, and feeding when it located something to eat. The camera shutter was working overtime, as this was a first in over 13 years of regularly going to the bush!
It taught me a valuable lesson – never presume in the bush, always double check, as I could’ve missed the opportunity of a lifetime.