Saturday, January 22, 2011

An afternoon with Dwarf Mongooses

These usually shy animals provided us with great entertainment during their social hour the other afternoon.

We waited patiently for them to become relaxed with our presence.

Behavioural Info

There is a strict hierarchy within a group, headed by a dominant pair. The dominant female is usually the leader of the group. All group members cooperate in helping to rear the pups and guarding the group from predators.

Dwarf mongooses are territorial. They sleep at night in disused termite mounds, although they occasionally use piles of stones, hollow trees, etc. Territories often overlap slightly, which can lead to confrontations between different groups.

Generally, only the group's dominant female becomes pregnant and she is responsible for 80% of the pups reared by the group. If conditions are good, subordinate females may also become pregnant but their pups rarely survive.

Normally one or more members of the group stay behind to babysit while the group goes foraging. At 4 weeks of age the pups begin accompanying the group.

A mutualistic relationship has evolved between Dwarf Mongooses and hornbills, in which hornbills seek out mongooses in order to forage together and warn each other of nearby birds of prey and other predators. Sometimes the hornbills can be seeing pestering the mongooses to get going in the morning, no time for a sunbathe!

A tribute to two cubs

A photographic tribute to Hlaba Nkunzi's 2 female cubs. One of them was tragically killed by a new male (Xinzele) in her territory yesterday.

She had just turned 1 year old...maybe a mere 6 months away from independence, Africa can be so harsh!

We are rooting for her and her remaining cub as they try and evade Xinzele who will probably try and find the other cub...

Their first kill, a young bushbuck.

Hours of play, practising hunting skills.

Satisfying their thirst from suite 5 pool.

On the way to a kill with Hlaba Nkunzi

A confident show of teeth, a 1 year old coming of age!

Hlaba Nkunzi and cub

Hiding from a lion high up a tree at 4 months old

Playing and excitement on the way to a kill