We are always writing about our sightings of the big impressive carnivores of the African savannah – but we should not forget the little guys!
Just as interesting and sometimes rarer to see, they can be really fun to watch if you are lucky enough to spend some time watching them.
A few that we see in Selous are:
Dwarf Mongoose: These little predators look cute and cuddly but they sport little dagger-like teeth great for dealing with tough little invertebrates like beetles, spiders, crickets and scorpions.
If they don’t run away, watching a foraging business (the plural for a group of mongoose) can be real fun with many finding food and others standing sentry duty.
A very interesting and amusing relationship has also been recorded of a certain species of hornbill foraging with dwarf mongoose and picking up any insects that are scared up from the grasses as the business make its way through the bush. These hornbills have also been recorded giving the mongoose a wake up call in the morning and chivvying them on should they be slow to get up.
Banded Mongoose: Another but larger social mongoose species these are a fairly regular sighting for us in the Selous. Again great fun to watch and can sometimes be seen throwing hard shelled food items like millipedes and snails and dashing them off of rocks. They can also be very brave when confronted by a potential predator, banding together to mob animals as big as Jackals and large eagles like Martial eagles.
The have even been known to form rescue missions to save a captured member of their business.
Genet: If we see this nocturnal feline-like creature it is generally a pair of eyes shining back at us from its resting place in a tree or close to camp sliding between the shadows on the hunt at night. They are stunningly marked, highly agile and active little ambush and chasing hunters of small mammals rodents and invertibrates, not long ago we witnessed a failed attempt to catch a scrub hare on our airstrip. Unfortunately getting a photo can be difficult being that it’s nocturnal and it is very seldom that you would see them in the day time.
Civet: A genets larger and ground dwelling cousin, the Civet is equally beautifully marked, also nocturnal, but much more of a generalist in its hunting behavior, it covers large areas at night as it simply snuffles along in a stealthy walk taking opportunities as they present themselves and are generally not picky in what they eat. Fruits and berries supplement a diet of invertebrates, their strong constitution enables them to deal with the noxious Giant Africa millipedes whom everyone else leaves alone. We have also witnessed civets feeding from large carcasses however not if larger carnivores are around. We see them in camp at night and fairly regularly on game drives, but even if we don’t see them their sign is always visible every morning, their tracks can be seen walking the roads and their territorial middens, called civetrys, are widespread and prominent.