Editor’s note: James Kydd is the creator and editor of the blog rangerdiaries.com and a professional safari guide.
A type of catlike creature called a genet has been spotted catching a ride on the backs of buffalo and white rhinos, new camera trap pictures reveal.
As cameras, social media, and technology advance, more and more wildlife interactions are recorded and shared by documentary makers, photographers, and the nature-watching public around the world.
However, have you ever considered what percentage of nature’s secrets and untold stories we actually bear witness to? It is likely a fraction of a fraction of a percentile, too small for most of us to even comprehend.
The beauty of camera traps is that they can give us insight into a world we might not otherwise have knowledge of.
As a safari guide, I’ve seen some bewildering things. A lion taking food to an enemy pride. A leopard adopting another leopard’s cub. But when friend and director of Wildlife ACT Simon Morgan showed me the following photographs, I burst out laughing in disbelief.
In Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park, South Africa, volunteers assisting Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife on a threatened and endangered species monitoring project noticed something strange when reviewing their camera trap photographs.
Their cameras had captured a Cape buffalo … with a large-spotted genet riding on its back.
As if that wasn’t enough, there were other images of the genet riding what seems to be a different buffalo.
Simon came to visit me the following day. “You’re not going to believe this,” he chuckles, “it gets even weirder!”What appears to be the same genet, at the same camera trap, now riding a white rhinoceros. Photograph courtesy wildlifeact.com
It seems the genet was not content with riding just buffalos and had now been caught hitchhiking a ride on the back of a white rhinoceros.
Large-spotted genets are small nocturnal omnivores related to civets and belonging to the family Viverridae. They are mostly tree-dwelling creatures and prey on insects, birds, frogs, and rodents, although there have been recordings of them killing baby antelopes, a seemingly impossible feat for a creature of their size.
What could be the reason for this association? Was the genet hunting insects or feeding on parasites off the backs of these large animals? Was it preying on things like grasshoppers and mice that had been disturbed by the movement of the buffalo and rhino through the grass, much as an egret or a drongo would? Perhaps it feels this is a relatively safe, mobile vantage spot?
What are your thoughts on this interaction? Have you heard or seen of anything else like this? Please let us know in the comments below.
More about camera trap monitoring:
Wildlife ACT uses camera traps as a noninvasive form of wildlife monitoring on a few of the Zululand Game Reserves where they are stationed. The camera traps are placed strategically and usually in hard-to-navigate areas and are triggered by movement. These camera traps are perfect for monitoring generally shy or nocturnal animals or priority species such as rhinos, cheetahs, and leopards. By studying the photographs collected they are able to identify individual animals and plot their territories. This is critical to their ongoing research and makes it easier to monitor the wildlife in the future.
More about Wildlife ACT:
Wildlife ACT is a one-of-a-kind wildlife-monitoring organization that focuses on the following key conservation elements:
- Delivering time and expertise to provide adequate management, capture, or transport for the reintroduction of endangered and threatened species to new areas (with a focus on African wild dogs, cheetahs, black rhinos, and vultures)
- Finding and funding the right equipment needed to effectively monitor endangered and threatened species
- Training field rangers to monitor these species by using the right approaches and technologies to minimise disturbance
- Establishing and running sustainable, focused wildlife monitoring projects
Wildlife ACT allows volunteers to join their team in the field. To find out more about volunteering with Wildlife ACT, email, firstname.lastname@example.org.