Africa’s Earth Pig …..

A is for Aardvark.
The name Aardvark comes from South Africa’s Afrikaans language and means ‘earth pig’ or ‘ground pig’. Aardvark are also known as ‘antbears’, ‘anteaters’, ‘Cape anteater’ and ‘earth hogs’.

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This critter has been nr 1 on my bucket list for so long that I had almost given up on ever finding it. Bizarrely, after having spent a considerable amount of time visiting numerous ‘sure thing ‘ locations without success, this magical creature decided to turn up almost right on my doorstep ! Hubby kept telling me that half the fun of having such a special sighting, is the anticipation thereof. He was right of course, but I do admit to being SO excited that is was difficult to take my eyes of this amazing creature to see it through the viewfinder of my camera πŸ™‚ Addo Elephant National Park list the aardvark however, sightings must be very slim on the ground as I have not personally heard of any. This past week though, has seen this particular creature enthrall a number of us in Mbotyi Loop in the southern section of the park.
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I was fascinated by it’s tail, a firm extension of the body. See how it seems to anchor itself on its hind legs and tail so that it’s powerful front feet can claw and dig with some force ! Their tough thick skin protects them from bites while their worm like tongue (up to 30.5 cm long ) roots around ant and termite mounds. The tongue is sticky and can pick up around 50,000 termites and ants in one night !
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Can you believe the size of those feet and claws…. Just as well, I would imagine that they must be quite vulnerable to predators lion, of which there were a number of in that vicinity …. Apparently, aardvark have awesome zigzag manoeuvres to evade predators..if that fails, they will flip onto their backs lashing out with all fours !
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All that snuffling and rooting around in the dirt cannot be pleasant, thankfully though, the aardvark has the ability to seal his nostrils to prevent dust and even insects from invading it’s long snout..the horrors, can you IMAGINE ? ! πŸ™‚
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Breeding aardvark burrows have extensive tunnels with multiple entrances. Solitary animals move from burrow to burrow, or simply dig up new ones. Disused burrows are taken over by other creatures like warthog and porcupine.
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Aardvark are nocturnal. But in the winter months they often come out into the open in the late afternoon, enjoying a bit of warm winter sunshine. They seem nonplussed by our human presence, simply going about their business – swinging that long snout from side to side picking up the scent of an active termite or ant nest.
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… and off he goes…. having delighted and enthralled us for more than an hour… you have never seen a more happy, excited, chuffed, breathless and well pleased bunch of people …. We all agreed that a a celebratory drinkie would be had the minute we got home from Addo. Ching Ching !

 

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Heading out of the park, with the biggest, goofiest most happiest grin all over my face… Had to stop and snap Addo’s final gift of the day… a Sunset That Skriks For Niks a la Africa πŸ™‚ THIS is why I live here !

For further info on Addo :
Addo Elephant National Park

For ‘Friends Of Addo’ facebook page :
Friends Of Addo

 

 

Source for Aardvark facts:Β http://www.onekind.org/education/animals_a_z/aardvark/

 

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