Matobo Hills National Park in Zimbabwe’s wild heart is known for its predators. It’s breeding population of Verreaux’s (black) eagle and it’s abundance of leopards alone make it a wildlife-lovers wonderland. Guests at Big Cave Lodge, nestled in those hills, are often wowed by encounters with the big-boy-predators of the wilderness during their time there. And it’s a truly magical world to be part of.
But what about all the little creatures? They’re often overlooked, especially in Africa where there are so many distractingly magnificent big beasts.
Dambari Wildlife Trust put together a blog post, shining the spotlight onto certain smaller members of the Matabo Hills wild community. It’s entitled, “Appreciating the role of the little guys!” and looks into how the region naturally manages to support such a high density of predators. The answer is- its hyraxes (also known as dassies).
We share some of the blog’s fascinating insights about how the eco-system balance works:
“Life in the wild is tough, though, and hyraxes form the bulk of the diet of Verreaux’s eagles and are probably a major component of other predators’ diets too. Predation is such an ephemeral event that we rarely record evidence of it. For example, in the four years that we’ve been camera trapping in the Park – amounting to nearly 20,000 trap days – we’ve catalogued 65,217 photographs and, prior to June, recorded just one animal (a serval) with prey (a scrub hare). And then in one month we captured two DAYTIME photos, at widely-spaced sites, of leopards carrying dassies! Feast or famine, this camera-trapping business!
So the next time you have the good fortune to be in the Matobo Hills and see hyraxes or hear them alarm-calling, remember that these humble little creatures deserve to be conserved, not only for their own sake, but because they are arguably the lynchpins of the ecosystem.”
Read the full blog here.
A Little More about Big Cave:
Big Cave Camp suns itself like a hyrax on top of the rocks overlooking the Matobo Hills National Park. The seven thatched cottages, each with en-suite bathroom and private balcony have been placed amidst the giant boulders and their ancient Khoisan rock art.
Activities at the camp include mountain bike trails, walks to the unique rock formations, game drives, rhino tracking on foot, bird watching and cultural activities such as visits to the nearby Ndebele village. Yoga Safaris are also on offer for a truly specialised experience.