PRINTS ALONG A COUNTRY ROAD

Readers have remarked on how high the game fences are that flank the country road we are exploring – they are when compared with the height of the normal farm fence and are designed to keep the wild animals in. When we moved to the Eastern Cape, we learned to be wary about driving along any roads from dusk until dawn mainly because kudu are not confined to fences and there is always the danger of driving into one at night. They are not the only animals to be abroad once the traffic has died down: bushbuck, duiker and grey rhebok are among the animals that have been seen at night.

The sandy edges of the country dirt road reveal some of what was about during the night. The first photograph is not a print at all, but are the craters forming the traps of antlions. As children we had endless fun teasing them to the surface by tickling the sand with a tiny twig.

Now to the prints. Something with small padded paws walked along here:

Further on, we can see the spoor of an antelope on top of tyre marks:

Fine sand – and especially damp sand – makes for clearer prints, yet even this coarser surface has allowed for the clear spoor of an antelope to be left to tell a story in the early morning:

 

 

27 thoughts on “PRINTS ALONG A COUNTRY ROAD

  1. I used to be much better at reading tracks and signs; it’s a skill that needs continued practice. But it is always interesting and often quite thrilling – when you’re in a reserve, and you find fresh signs of predators, elephants, etc, and they’re heading in the same direction you are, the anticipation growing with every turn or rise in the road, wondering when they’ll come into view…

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    • You are right both about the practice required to read signs well enough to easily recognise one from the other and about the excitement and anticipation – especially in a game reserve. These prints show that the countryside at night is not nearly as ’empty’ as it might seem during the day 🙂

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  2. Things are much the same! Children are interested in antlions here too. Curiously enough the larvae are called kuzhiaana’ in our language, Malayalam. Kuzhi means a hole or depression and aana is elephant. 🙂

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  3. I can’t imagine having these animals so near to my home. What a treat it is to even see the tracks. I had to look up what type of animals you mentioned.
    I have seen the antlions before in Costa Rica. It was fascinating watching our guide tease one up for us to see. Then to watch it burrow back into the soil.

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  4. Always interesting to see who comes by in the night. You have visitors that seem very exotic to us. It reminds me of how we see animal tracks in the snow. Unless it is in mud along streams or the river, we don’t generally get to see prints.

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