SafariSpy: bird brains and warthogs

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SafariSpy: bird brains and warthogs

By Kat Holmes
I took the camera trap back to the Waterberg mountains to see if I could do better than last time. Obviously practice pays off, I found a great spot where wildlife was passing between the campsite area and the nearby waterhole.

Helmeted guinea fowl (Numida meleagris) kept on passing by. We find these very funny birds to watch, their brain capacity and general behaviours remind us a lot of british pheasants. Like pheasants they tend to run rather than fly when alarmed, this results in mayhem as different members of the flock make the tough decision on which way to run before all going in different directions! Here you can see a particularly decisive bird making a run for it , while some straddlers try to catch up…

Guinea fowl

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Another bird, which can stand 5 times as tall as the guinea fowl, came to visit too. Ostriches (Struthio camelsare the fastest and tallest (up to 250cm) bird and have the largest eye of any land animal. Apparently their brain is about the same size as their eye, but do not underestimate them! They have two toes on each foot one of which is armed with a 10cm long claw, which can be used in defence (including against humans)! Having been warned about this we are always a little nervous as they silently creep up behind us at the camp site. The female is smaller and has a duller grey plumage, compared to the male’s black plumage. Males often trick us by producing a loud booming call that vibrates in the night air and actually sounds like lions are close by.

Female ostrich

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Here’s another female pecking around…

Female ostrich

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Finally, my favourite South African critter trotted past. This common warthog (Phacochoerus africanushad been busy digging for roots in the campsite, making it difficult for people to pitch their tents on flat ground. They are named for the fleshy lumps (or warts) the males have on either side of their heads. They are also known for their tails, which instantly ping straight into the air like a flag when running.

Warthog, tail up!

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Warthogs are sparsely covered in course long hair except for a mane that runs down their back, which looks a bit like a mohawk when it blows in the wind. They mainly graze on grass but will also feed on roots, berries and bark. Here’s the same individual showing of its impressive tusks and moustache like hair on its face…

Warthog, tail up!

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Stay tuned for more SafariSpy adventures!

 

 

More information:

Common warthog

Ostrich

Helmeted guinea fowl