Monthly Archives: June 2014

Aardwolf (Maanhaar) Facts

Main Characteristics

Aardwolves are a member of the hyena family. They have a body length between 55 and 80 cms (22 – 31.5 inches), a tail length between 20 and 30 cms (7.9 – 11.8 inches) and they weigh between 8 and 10 kgs (17.6 – 22 lbs).

Their fur is buff or yellowish/white in colour and they have 3 dark, vertical stripes down each side and diagonal dark stripes across their fore and hind quarters. They have a mane of hair on their back that stands up when they feel under stress. This makes the Aardwolf look larger and appear more threatening.

Their front legs are slightly longer than their hind, giving them a slightly downward sloping body. Their tail is bushy and they have dark eyes and a dark coloured muzzle.

Their front teeth resemble those of hyenas but their molars are like small pegs. To compensate for this their food is ground up by their muscular stomach.

Habitat

Aardwolves are found on the open, grassy plains of east and south Africa. They are solitary and they rest in burrows during the day before becoming active at night. Their territory is between 1 and 4 square kilometres (0.6 – 2.5 sq. miles), depending of food availability, and they mark it with urine, dung and secretions from their anal glands.

Diet

Aardwolves mainly feed upon termites, in particular snouted harvester termites. They also eat maggots, grubs and any other soft bodies insects. Sometimes, but rarely, they will feed on small mammals, birds and carrion.

Aardwolves don’t dig into the nests of termites, they just pick them up with their tongue. They can consume as many as 200,000 termites during one night.

Breeding

After a gestation period of approximately 90 days, 2 – 4 cubs are born in a den. They leave the den at 6 – 8 weeks old and between 9 and 11 weeks they begin to forage with their mother. By the time the cubs reach 16 weeks old they are weaned. Aardwolves reach sexual maturity by the time they are 2 years old.

Aardwolves are monogamous and both parents raise the cubs together. The primary duty of the male is to guard the den from predators. The breeding season is at different times of the year, depending on location.

Predators

Humans and dogs are the main predators of Aardwolves.

Subspecies

There are two subspecies of Aardwolf:

  • Proteles cristatus cristatus
    They are found in south Africa.
  • Proteles cristatus septentrionalis
    They are found in east Africa. 

Interesting Facts

Aardwolves are also known as:

  • Maanhaar Jackal
  • Protelid

Aardwolf is the Afrikaans word for “earth wolf”

Sibuya Game Reserve

If you are planning an African Safari, or want to stay at a Game Reserve in South Africa, or a Game Reserve near the Garden Route, or are looking for that perfect Game Reserve Wedding Venue, then why not visit Sibuya for that ultimate African Bush Experience! Sibuya is a Malaria Free Game Reserve

Sibuya offers team-building & conferencing programmes for companies or conference groups.

Spotted Hyena Facts

Physical Characteristics

Of the three species of hyena in Africa, only the spotted hyena and the shy and much rarer, striped hyena (Hyaena hyaena) are found in East Africa. The smaller, and even shyer brown hyena (Hyaena brunnea) occurs only in southern Africa. Different from most other animals, female spotted hyenas are dominant over the males and outweigh them by about 3 pounds.
It is difficult to distinguish male and female hyenas by observation in the field. They are not hermaphrodites (having both male and female sexual organs), nor can they change their sex at will, as many people believe. Although the external female genitalia have a superficial similarity to those of the male, they are nonetheless female organs and only the females bear and nurse young. Why the female hyena developed in this manner is not known, but it may have been necessary for them to appear large and strong to protect their young from males, as hyenas have cannibalistic tendencies.

Habitat

Spotted hyenas are found in grasslands, woodlands, savannas, subdeserts, forest edges and mountains.

Behavior

Spotted hyenas are organized into territorial clans of related individuals that defend their home ranges against intruding clans. The center of clan activity is the den, where the cubs are raised and individuals meet. The den is usually situated on high ground in the central part of the territory. Its above-ground entrances are connected to a series of underground tunnels.
Hyenas mark and patrol their territories by depositing a strong-smelling substance produced by the anal glands on stalks of grass along the boundaries. “Latrines,” places where members of a clan deposit their droppings, also mark territories. The high mineral content of the bones hyenas consume make their droppings a highly visible, chalky white. Hyenas are social animals that communicate with one other through specific calls, postures and signals. They quickly make their various intentions known to other members of the clan, or to outsiders. When a hyena’s tail is carried straight, for example, it signals attack. When it is held up and forward over the back, the hyena is extremely excited. In contrast, it hangs down when the hyena is standing or walking leisurely. If frightened, the hyena tucks its tail between the legs and flat against the belly and usually skulks away.

Diet

The spotted hyena is a skillful hunter but also a scavenger. Truly an opportunistic feeder, it selects the easiest and most attractive food it may ignore fresh carrion and bones if there is, for example, an abundance of vulnerable wildebeest calves. It consumes animals of various types and sizes (including domestic stock and even other hyenas), carrion, bones, vegetable matter and other animals’ droppings. The powerful jaws and digestive tract of the hyena allow it to process and obtain nutrients from skin and bones. The only parts of prey not fully digested are hair, horns and hooves; these are regurgitated in the form of pellets. As hyenas hunt mostly at night and devour all parts, little evidence remains of their actual meals. Although they eat a lot of dry bones, they need little water.

Caring for the Young

Hyenas usually bear litters of two to four cubs, which, unlike the other two species, are born with their eyes open. Cubs begin to eat meat from kills near the den at about 5 months, but they are suckled for as long as 12 to 18 months, an unusually long time for carnivores. This is probably a necessity, as most kills are made far from the den, and hyenas, unlike jackals and hunting dogs, do not bring back food and regurgitate it for their young. At about 1 year, cubs begin to follow their mothers on their hunting and scavenging forays. Until then, they are left behind at the den with a babysitting adult.

Predators

Lions (who will attack them at every opportunity), hunting dogs and strange hyenas are among the species that prey on hyenas.

Did you know?

  • Hyenas make a variety of vocalizations, including wailing calls, howling screams and the well-known “laughter” used to alert other clan members up to three miles away of a food source.
  • Hyenas eat a great variety of animal products, vegetation and, according to campers, even aluminum pots and pans.

Sibuya Game Reserve

If you are planning an African Safari, or want to stay at a Game Reserve in South Africa, or a Game Reserve near the Garden Route, or are looking for that perfect Game Reserve Wedding Venue, then why not visit Sibuya for that ultimate African Bush Experience! Sibuya is a Malaria Free Game Reserve

Sibuya offers team-building & conferencing programmes for companies or conference groups.