Animal Behaviour – Living on Bushveld Time with the Thornybush Collection

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Time in the bushveld is generally broken up into three stages. Now, if you were on safari with Thornybush Collection you would be forgiven for thinking, 'that's breakfast, lunch and dinner', or 'morning, afternoon and evening game drives', but that's not it.

Bushveld time is actually based on the behaviour of the wild animals. All the animals in the Thornybush Private Nature Reserve and in our close neighbour, the Kruger National Park, operate in one of three time frames:

Diurnal – Active during the day

Animals that go about their business during the daylight hours are called diurnal (diurnalis, meaning daily). This includes all the species commonly seen during a daytime safari. Zebra, impala, giraffe, elephant, monkeys and baboons, for example. Some of the rarer animals like cheetahs and wild dogs are also considered diurnal and almost all birds are active in daylight.

Nocturnal – Creatures of the night

During the dark hours, the bushveld comes alive with the glistening eyes of predators. Leopards, owls and bats are famously nocturnal (nocturnus, meaning belonging to the night), doing most of their hunting at night, and most of their sleeping during the day.

You are most likely to see lesser-known species such as aardvark, pangolins, honey badgers and the African civet during the darkest hours of the night.

Crepuscular – The Twilight Zone

The third kind of animal is those that are at their best during the periods around dusk and dawn. These creatures are classified as crepuscular (crepusculum, meaning twilight). Within this category, are some that are most active at either dusk (vespertine) or dawn (matutinal).

They choose these hours because it's the safest time to avoid predators. Visibility is low, making it easier to hide from any predators that may be around. Many of the creatures at the bottom of the food chain are crepuscular because of this, for example scrub hares. Servals capitalize on this by hunting at dusk and dawn.

Flexi Time

As it is with nature, nothing is cast in stone. Animal behaviour hinges on other factors such as temperature, and the presence of predators or prey. No animal is going to turn down a meal just because it's their nap time.

Lions, although considered nocturnal, are famously fickle when it comes to keeping office hours and often hunt during the twilight hours. Some herbivores switch to night time grazing on bright moonlit nights, while the nocturnal hippo may sometimes be seen grazing out of the water in the middle of the day.

At Thornybush Collection we tailor our own behavioural patterns, as in our morning and afternoon game drives, to coincide with the highest chance of spotting animals before they have dispersed to their hidden sleeping places.


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Wednesday, 21 November 2018