On most farms, one will find the ‘normal’ animals like dogs, cats or even some Hans calves or lambs. Living in the country exposes you to ‘other’ animals that one would normally not find in suburbia. Over the last 30 years I have met a fair number of different animals of various kinds. Some of them quite close or even in the house while others when walking in the veldt.
Mountain Reedbuck Ram
Probably the most common one is that of the Mountain Reedbuck that whistles when they feel they are in danger. A group of them live in the hill behind the house. Towards the evening or early morning, they come down to drink water out of the trough in the camp next to the house. I often sit quietly on the back lawn and watch them grazing.
Troupe of Baboons
The Chacma baboon is often quite brave and venture close to the house, but will quickly retreat and bark from a distance when you show your face. Baboons all over the country certainly can become quite a problem, but often man is the root cause of this.
Chacma Baboons watching me from a safe distance.
Whenever I walk in the veldt and come across a troupe, I keep my distance and allow them their space. If I do not see them, I certainly pick up the fact that they were around by observing all the stones they have turned over, in their search for that pleasant scorpion or two.
Packed netted fence ready for the baboons to roll!
They are of course a huge problem when a nicely packed netted fence, has been re-arranged by them. The netted fence is there for a purpose – to keep the jackal out of the lamb camp. We see the Vervet monkeys in very small parties well away from the house.
Other larger antelope seen on the farm include the Eland, which have increased over the years and at times groups of at least 20 can be seen feeding. They are quite big and therefore need a fair amount of food to sustain them that in turn put pressure on the grazing for our livestock. Kudu is still quite elusive, but occasionally I will come across a small group. Their hoof prints are their give away. I have yet to get a good photograph of one of them. Duiker and Steenbok make up the antelope animals of the farm although occasionally we will get an odd ‘introduced’ species like a Springbok, Nyala, Fallow deer or Impala.
A group of Eland keeping their distance from me.
I must just stress that I will not go out to look for a youngster of any species that occurs naturally on the farm and try and make them into pets. I have been approached from time to time to take on a confiscated animal, like ground squirrels for example, but am reluctant to do this, as most often these animals are already being humanly imprinted and their chances of survival in the wild so diminished.
Scrub hares, together with springhares frequent the areas around the house and if I were an avid gardener, the springhare would clearly not be my favourite as they really dig up large parts of soil in search of their food.
Young Scrub Hare
Once I picked up a small Scrub hare sitting in the middle of the road (did look for the adult nearby before loading it) and ‘tried’ to foster it with goat’s milk, but did not have the touch. Sadly this little soul did not make it into adulthood.
During the winter months it is wonderful to watch the Scrub hares in the evening bouncing around on the old tennis court in their playful manner.
When I still kept fowls, two particular types of animals were fairly regular in looking for an additional meal, namely, the monitors as well as the grey mongoose. In most cases it was a battle for who would succeed in collecting the eggs first. The Grey mongoose would lie quietly in the apricot tree after having raided a nest somewhere in the garden. Once I watched it playing with a rather rotten egg, throwing it around like a rugby ball. I think it knew that the egg was not too kosher.
Rock Monitor being 'removed'
Both the Rock Monitor and the Water Monitor love fowl eggs and most often I would catch them ‘red handed’. Their first defence was to scuttle away as fast as their bodies would allow them too or else lash out at you with their tails. I moved many monitors far distances from the fowl run but another one would just seem to ‘smell’ that dinner was available.
Young Water Monitor found in the river
The Water guy learnt that I would feed the vultures down in their holding cage and was very quick to ‘assist with eating the food supplied. If you happened to enter the cage while it was there, the best place to hide was in the drinking trough!!
The Water Monitor 'visiting'
Now that I do not have my vultures anymore, it has moved closer to the house as I do get vultures in my ‘holding cage’ from time to time and of course the food is then available.
Recently it decided to ‘inspect’ the house and has walked right through the house from the back door to the front door.
The second time my poor housecleaner met it in the passage – she was not too enthralled of course!!
Close up of the Water Monitor
Of the other reptiles, the snakes are probably one species that I come across quite often. On odd occasions I will be required to ‘remove’ them from inside the house but in most cases I leave them be or ‘move’ them a little further away from the house. Some of these guys are really pretty. One must just remember that a snake is probably a tenth the size of a human and therefore is far more intimidated by our size. They have a role to play that is certainly not to go out and attack humans!!!
A Spotted Bush Snake
A beautifully marked Rhombic Night Adder
Then of course I must not forget Nuisance. Meagan gave it the name Nuisance. Nuisance is a bat –possibly a Temminck’s Hairy bat.
Nuisance the Temminck's Hairy Bat
Nuisance used to come and settle in Meagan’s room at night and do it’s ‘exercises’ according to her. Nuisance was banned from her room; however, it still flies around at night and can occasionally be found hanging from the roof in the bathroom. As to whether it is a male or female, one could not say. Bats are very useful in keeping the mosquito and moth population under control, so Nuisance can remain part of the ‘other’ animals on the farm.