June 13: Big Scary Shadow Bunnies

Polecats are quickly becoming one of my favourite animals in the Kalahari. There’s a lot of personality packed into their tiny, stripy bodies. Tonight’s polecat sighting was quite typical of a polecat sighting and consisted of one polecat quickly hopping down a hole of its own making and disappearing from sight. Love.

The little camp I call home is too often criticized. They say it’s too big. It’s too noisy. It’s too close to civilization. It isn’t. Just look up at our stars on a moonless night. Or try the 500km grocery run. How far do you travel to pick up an avocado and a pack of M&M’s?

But as tonight proved, this camp just can’t be beaten for wildlife sightings. The variety of things we see here totally speaks for itself. It’s very good to be home.

Sightings:

Polecat
Small Spotted Genet
Cape Fox
Bat eared Fox
Springhare
Scrub Hare
Steenbok
Wildebeest
Springbok
Gemsbok
Tawny Eagle
Spotted Eagle Owl
Black Headed Heron

So my much anticipated midnight drive was kind of a little bit cancelled at the last minute.  Instead, the guests opted for the night drive. Just as cold, but not as late.

Much of the night drive was spent behind Scrub Hares. Once you’re stuck behind a Scrub Hare, you can be pretty stuck indeed. There are few events in a Scrub Hare’s life more stressful than being caught in headlights and few events in a guide’s life more stressful than trying not to hit Scrub Hares that are caught in headlights. It desperately wants to get out, but when it tries to run to the side of the road it runs right into its own shadow and totally freaks out. “Oh no! A shadow!” So it turns to get away and is promptly confronted with… it’s own shadow… again. “Oh no! A Shadow!” So it turns back and meets its shadow again. “Oh no! A shadow!” You get the picture. The sides of the road are guarded by big menacing shadows that look like bunnies and scare the Scrub Hares senseless.

The best thing to do is always to turn off the lights and let it escape . But it doesn’t always work. At one point, I flicked my lights back on only to find i’d acquired a second Scrub Hare and now had two running from their own shadows instead of one. When I turned off the lights and the engine, one of the Scrub Hares scampered over to the side of the vehicle, peered up at my guests and then quickly took its place back in the middle of the road. It knew what it was doing. Scrub Hare’s are too often overlooked on safaris, but last night they ensured that our night drive was all about Scrub Hares. I didn’t take any photos but here’s a faithful interpretation, made from cookie dough.

Photobucket

It’s a fairly accurate depiction, but I wasn’t wearing glasses and I was dressed more warmly.

Night Drive Sightings:

Scrub Hare
African Wild Cat
Cape Fox
Bat Eared Fox
Springhare
Springbok
Gemsbok
Spotted Eagle Owl

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