Hyena House

You’ll Know Them By Their Stripes

If you are a regular visitor to any of the Kruger River Villas, you will likely have had a surprise visit from some Zebras during your stay. Of the Zebra species found in the world, the greater Kruger Park area is inhabited by the Plains Zebra.

The Plains Zebra species is somewhat smaller than the other species, with the average Plains Zebra weighing just under half a ton, and standing at about 1.5m. In the wild, Zebras have an expected life span of 25 years, and to maximise their chances of survival, they have some cool tricks up their stripy sleeves!

For one thing, their stripes help them to blend in with the grassy environments they live in. Contrary to their apparent laid-back approach to life, they are capable of running at up to 56 km p/h! Add to that their super-power of landing a hefty kick, and you have a mean escaping-machine that could crush the bones of its pursuers! More than one lion has learned this the hard way with a crushed jaw.

But there is so much more to these cheeky animals!

Their stripes are as unique as their playful personalities are, because no two zebras have the same stripes – similar to the unique fingerprints that humans have. Another difference you’ll notice between the Plains Zebra and other Zebras, is that they have a brown ‘shadow’ stripe. Aside from the obvious camouflage aspect of the shadow stripe, it also believed that it plays a role in helping the animal to cool down.

Zebras are family orientated

If you’ve had a visit from a group of them, you’ll likely have seen what is called a harem. Usually, a male zebra, known as a stallion, will lead a family of females and their babies in a family unit. Stallions can sometimes be solitary for a while, and you may occasionally see a female zebra who appears to be on her own with her baby.  However, her family will likely be close by, as she takes a bit of time out to allow her new born to bond with her and to memorise one another’s unique barcodes, so that they will not be separated when they return to their family unit. Zebra foals can stand within 15 minutes of birth and run within an hour!

Zebras are very social animals and you’ll often see them with other grazers, and even browsers like Giraffes, as there is safety in numbers and they benefit from one another’s strengths. Zebras have good vision and hearing, and can cover huge distances to find food in dry seasons. Surprisingly, Zebras only require 2-3 hours of sleep per day and they usually sleep standing up, by locking their knees. However, even when napping, Zebras are ready to engage in survival mode.

Zebras are amazing creatures and we hope you’ll have the opportunity to observe them in their natural, wild environment in 2019. To book your stay at any of the Kruger River Villas, visit www.krugerrivervillas.co.za. If you stay at either Villa Mtombo or Hyena House between now and 14 March 2019, you’ll save 30%. See you soon!

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Dung Beetles – Environmental Superheroes!

Dung beetles are often featured in “if you think your job is bad…” jokes, but they are in fact amazing creatures!

Habitat

Found in deserts, savannahs, grasslands and forests on all continents except Antartica, dung beetles do not enjoy the extreme cold and dry conditions. While their diet consists of the dung of both omnivores and herbivores, they prefer the former for wider nutritional benefits. Some have been known to also eat fruit, decaying leaves and mushrooms, however, a diet consisting of dung only meets all the food and drink requirements of these hard-working creatures.

While most dung beetles detect dung using smell, smaller species cling to the host and await the delivery of their fresh supply of dung. Once collected, the dung is rolled without delay, as the dung trade is highly competitive and slack dung beetles can expect to have their cargo hi-jacked by industrious competitors.Dung beetles are the ultimate overcomers because they roll their cargo in straight lines, irrespective of what obstacles they may encounter en-route. This begs the question: how do they manage to stay on track?

 

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