Welcome to the ninth edition of Shakati Bush Facts. In this edition, we will be looking at the shy five. In the first article in this series, we looked at the little five, and in this article, we will focus on the shy five. This article is the second in the 3 part series, which covers: the little five, the shy five and finally the ugly five.
The Shy 5 concept was first introduced by Meerkat Magic for animals found in the Karoo, but the terminology quickly spread to other regions. The Shy five are mostly nocturnal animals, except for the Meerkat, and usually keep a low profile. Thus, book your night drive now at Shakati, to have a chance to spot these nocturnal animals.
The shy five consist of Meerkat, Aardvark, Porcupine, Aardwolf and the Bat-eared fox.
Image Source: Wikipedia
The Meerkat (Suricata suricatta) is a small mammal, which is a highly sociable animal. A group of Meerkats is called a “mob”, “gang” or “clan”. Their length is range from 35 to 50cm, and has a slender body and uses its tail to balance when standing upright, as well as for signalling others in the face of danger. The coat is usually peppered grey, tan, or brown with silver and has short parallel stripes across their backs, extending from the base of the tail to the shoulders. Meerkats are usually spotted in the day, but when they spot you, they usually scatter away.
Image Source: Wikipedia
The Aadrvark (Orycteropus afer) is a medium-sized, burrowing, nocturnal mammal native to Africa. It is easily identifiable by its long pig-like snout, which is used to sniff out food. They are usually found in rocky areas and is a nocturnal feeder which feeds on ants and termites. The Aardvark will dig into termite mounds with its sharp claws and powerful legs. The aardvark is vaguely pig-like in appearance. Its body is stout with a prominently arched back, and is a pale yellowish-grey in colour and often-stained reddish-brown by soil. The old holes are usually used by a myriad of other animals, which includes porcupines, warthogs, jackals, and many more animals.
Image Source: Shakati Shareholder
Image Source: Jane and Steen Damgaard
South African Cape Porcupines are classified to form part of the Rodent family and is as such one of the largest rodents in South Africa. It is easily identifiable with it long sharp spines (up to 50cm) which covers its back. Porcupines coat is dark brown coloured (almost looking black), and its spines are a lighter shade of brown and white stripes. Porcupines feast primarily on plant material such as fruits, roots, tubers, bulbs, and bark. Porcupines use their claws to dig holes to reach the roots and plant bulbs. Porcupines use their sharp spines to defend it from predators.
For more information visit (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bat-eared_fox)
Image Source: Wikipedia
The Aardwolf (Proteles cristata) is a small mammal, which primarily feeds on insects. The aardwolf is in the same family as the hyena BUT it does not hunt or scavenge, but only feeds on insects, mainly termites. The aardwolf lives in the open lands covered with stunted trees and shrubs. It is nocturnal, resting in burrows during the day and emerging at night to seek food. The Aardwolf has black vertical stripes on a coat of yellowish fur, and a long, distinct mane down the midline of the neck and back. It also has one or two diagonal stripes down the fore- and hind-quarters, along with several stripes on its legs.
The Aardwolf is sometimes seen as a potential pest because it is perceived to catch lambs, but in reality, it is harmless because it only feeds on insects. Interesting Fact: The Aardwolf a near threatened species on the IUCN red list.
Image Source: Johan Fourie
Bat-Eared Foxes (Otocyon megalotis) are extremely shy animals, and when you are extremely lucky, you may see the bat eared foxes on Shakati. Their length range from 55-75 cm, and is identifiable by their Large Bat like ears, slender black legs and a black sharp-pointed muzzle, and the coat is silver-gray, and longish with a grizzled appearance. The tail is long and bushy, black on top and near the tip. They like to much on Termites and dung beetles, other prey items include insects, millipedes and centipedes, scorpions, spiders, fruits, eggs, snakes, lizards, frogs, occasional small mammals, birds and soft tubers and roots, ants, beetles, crickets, grasshoppers, millipedes, moths, scorpions, spiders, and rarely birds, small mammals, reptiles, and fungi
(For more information see: https://shakati.wordpress.com/2017/03/19/bat-eared-fox/)
Which of the Shy 5 can be found on Shakati?
Shakati Private Game Reserve contains all of the Shy five, which includes the Meerkat, Aardvark, Porcupine, Aardwolf and the Bat-eared fox. The Aardwolf is the most misunderstood Animal of the Shy five and should be conserved at all costs.
See you next time for the Ugly five