Dazzled by a Dazzle – Zebra

Plains Zebra

Plains Zebra

Did you know a group of zebras is called a dazzle? Rightly so too, and here’s why;

Most predators only see in black and white, or similar, so can you imagine when on the hunt for zebra and as you give chase, the group (or dazzle) of zebra start running. All the variations of stripes, black and white, all flashing as a blur before your eyes.

This makes it very difficult for a predator to single out an individual and go after them specifically and is an excellent defense mechanism for the zebras.

Dazzle of zebras

Dazzle of Zebras

Another way this works well in their defense is this; have you noticed how adult zebras look almost squat, and stocky, yet calves have long, lanky, legs?

Look at the images above and below, and notice how the underside of the zebras, both calf and adult, are about the same height. This makes it difficult for the predators to single out the young within the dazzle and increases the difficulty in catching an easy meal.

Zebra and calf

Zebra and calf

The image above is a great example of how two zebras, in this case an adult and calf, can blend in with each other.




8 Interesting Facts About Cheetahs

Madikwe Cheetah

Cheetahs are graceful predators of the African bushveld and we’ve had the pleasure of having a good few sightings of the majestic animals.

Here are some interesting facts about cheetahs that maybe you didn’t know:

  • Cheetahs are one of the few species of cat that have only partially retractable claws. This means they cannot retract their claws like our cats at home can.
  • It is the fastest land animal that can reach speeds up to 120 km/h and accelerate to 100 km/h in 3 seconds. While this speed is phenomenal, it can only be maintained for up to 500 meters before the cheetah has to call off the hunt.
  • Lions are one of the main causes of cheetah mortality. Either by killing the young, or taking food from the adults and causing them to starve.
  • The black ‘tears’ that are a characteristic feature of the cheetah are to reduce glare from the sun and assist them in seeing long distances.
  • Cheetahs don’t have a mating season, they can mate throughout the year and they do not necessarily have one partner for life. Females can often have cubs from many different males.
  • Up to nine cubs can be born at once after a gestation period of up to 98 days. As mentioned earlier, lions are a big threat to cheetahs and up to 90% of the cubs will not reach maturity.
  • Cheetah males, either brothers from the same litter or lone males, may join up together and form a group that will spend their whole lives together. This group is called a coalition.
  • The cheetahs diet consists of hares and small antelope such as Impala, Springbok and Blesbok.



Pangolin Facts and Figures

 Interesting Facts About Pangolins

One of the species of critters that inhabits Sub-Saharan Africa is the Pangolin and with the focus on Rhino and Elephant poaching at the moment, it is easy to forget, or overlook, some of the other species that are in dire straits.

I am by no means belittling the current poaching crisis, however, this post is to remind us that there are other creatures out there than need our help and to share with you some of the interesting Pangolin facts.

The Pangolin is a rare species that only comes out late at night, later then most night drives end, so it can be difficult to spot and those that have seen them should consider themselves very lucky indeed.

The Pangolin has keratin scales that cover most of it’s body and the name comes from the Malay word: pengguling, which means “someting that rolls up”. This is their primary defense against predators. By rolling up into a tight ball, the pangolins protect their organs by leaving nothing exposed but their backs, and with it, their keratin scales.

There are four species of Pangolin:

  • Giant Ground Pangolin (Manis gigantea) which can be found mainly in central and western Africa
  • Ground Pangolin (Manis temmincki) which is found in southern and eastern Africa
  • Long-Tailed Tree Pangolin (Manis tetradactyla) which is found in western-central Africa
  • White-Bellied Tree Pangolin (Manis tricuspus) which is found in western-central Africa

Physical Information

  • Size: 30 – 100 cm (12 – 39 in). Keep in mind that females are usually much smaller than the males.
  • Weight: 15-18 kg
  • Lifespan: About 20 years
  • Tongue: A Pangolin’s tongue can be extended up to 40 (16 in) cm long, depending on the size of the Pangolin.

Pangolin Habitat

The Pangolin’s habitat is rather widespread and they can be found mainly in central and southern Africa.

They are able to inhabit a large variety of habitats ranging from forests to grasslands and savannahs.

These animals are solitary and prefer sandy soils where they can easily create burrows.

Pangolin Diet

Pangolins are insectivorous, meaning they eat insects and feed mainly on ants and termites. They can consume 140-200 g a day.

They are water dependent and need to drink regularly.

Breeding

Pangolins breed during the winter (dry season) and have only one cub at a time which weighs between 300g and 400g.

The gestation period is about four and a half months.

Conservation

Poaching of Pangolins and habitat loss has made these one of the most endangered mammal species today.

There are a number of organisations trying to conserve, as well as raise awareness about the plight of, pangolins. Below I’ve listed just two whose websites you can visit in order to get more information on contributing to their efforts.

In times like these there are so many species needing our help and the fate of the pangolin lies in our own hands. Every little bit we can do will surely help.