National Geographic Society Newsroom

Surprising Pictures: Catlike Creature Rides on Rhino

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...

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.

Volunteer monitors at Wildlife ACT came upon these remarkable images while reviewing their camera traps.
Monitors at Wildlife ACT came upon these remarkable images while reviewing their camera traps. Photograph courtesy wildlifeact.com

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.

From the same camera trap, the genet is photographed riding what seems to be a different buffalo bull (compare the right ear)
From the same camera trap, the genet is photographed riding what seems to be a different buffalo bull (compare the right ear). Photograph courtesy wildlifeact.com

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?

Follow the Wildlife ACT Facebook page for more updates on this remarkable    interaction
Follow Wildlife ACT here for more updates on this remarkable genet. Photograph courtesy wildlifeact.com

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.

Genets are part of the family Viveridae and are closely related to civets and  mongooses. Image by safari guide Robin Cheeseman of &Beyond Ngala.
Genets are part of the family Viverridae and are closely related to civets and mongooses. Photograph courtesy safari guide Robin Cheesman of &Beyond Ngala (rangerdiaries.com)

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, info@wildlifeact.com.

Wildlife ACT

For a daily safari experience, follow Ranger Diaries on Twitter @rangerdiaries.com and Instagram @ranger_diaries

 

About National Geographic Society

The National Geographic Society is a global nonprofit organization that uses the power of science, exploration, education and storytelling to illuminate and protect the wonder of the world. Since 1888, National Geographic has pushed the boundaries of exploration, investing in bold people and transformative ideas, providing more than 14,000 grants for work across all seven continents, reaching 3 million students each year through education offerings, and engaging audiences around the globe through signature experiences, stories and content. To learn more, visit www.nationalgeographic.org or follow us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

Meet the Author

James Kydd
James is an international safari guide and wildlife photographer. He completed his Bachelor of Science in Nature Conservation and has been guiding at some of South Africa’s top safari lodges since 2002. Since then he has lead safaris further afield, that include following the great herds through East Africa, tracking jaguars in the floodplains of the Brazilian Pantanal and seeking out snow leopards in the Himalayas. James has dedicated his life to re-connecting people to the natural frequencies of the wild with the belief that this is our greatest chance of protecting wilderness. He created the multiple-award winning website RangerDiaries.com as a platform to promote guides and photographers and celebrate the wildlife they work with. When not on safari he is based in Cape Town. If you'd like his advice on wildlife, guiding or planning a safari you can reach him at james@rangerdiaries.com.