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:

 

 

WATERBUCK

As the name implies, one would expect to see waterbuck (Kobus ellipsiprymnus) in the vicinity of water. They are dependent on water and drink it daily. These antelope sport a shaggy brown coat with a noticeable amount of hair around their necks, akin to a collar. This hair is hollow and allows for extra buoyancy, helping the waterbuck to keep their heads above the water when swimming.

What makes them easily recognisable is the characteristic white ring on their rumps. You can just make it out in the photograph above – and clearly in the one below.

I find the long forward curved horns of the bulls particularly attractive.

This one appears to be unconcerned by the number of flies buzzing around its face and horns. Notice the heart-shaped nose.