07 November 2012

Hangin' Around

A Vervet Monkey (Blouaap - Cercopithecus pygerythrus) at the Woody Cape

As can be expected the Woody Cape is home to monkeys. I seem to encounter them more frequently in the forest-like parts of the national park. The high and open trees seem to fit them better than the low and thick bush of the tickets. They are quite common throughout a large part of South Africa, preferring Savannah bushveld and river vegetation.

They can become a huge nuisance if they get accustomed to humans, especially if they get food from them (either being fed, or stealing it).

I'll confess that I'm not a huge fan. A few years ago I noticed that even though I've had hundreds of excellent sightings of these monkeys, I didn't have any photographs of them at all. I had to force myself to take a few so-so photographs "for the record". I guess I'm just not a big primate fan...

Showing off an intimidating set of crown jewels...

In Afrikaans they are know as "Blue Monkey", I'm guessing that the reason for this can be seen in the above photograph. They live in troops of 20 or more and have a well defined social hierarchy.

Vervet Monkeys spend a lot of time on the ground looking for food

These monkeys are active during the day and usually sleep at night in trees or sometimes on cliffs. They eat mostly plant material, but also snack on insects and small animals such as lizards, bird eggs, etc.

This monkey seems to know it's corridor safety checks: always look left and right before crossing

The above photograph's camera (a Bushnell Trophy Cam) was placed on a small trail crossing an open patch in the forest-like area. I was curious what animals use the trail. The most common were the Vervets, but a few other species also showed up.

A Blue Duiker (Blouduiker - Cephalophus monticola) following similar corridor safety procedures as the monkey

The above image gives a good idea of just how small a Blue Duiker is, compared to a monkey.

The members of the Duiker subfamily are quite different from many of the other antelope and one might thing that the Duiker subfamily might be somewhat "primitive" compared to some of the other antelope species.

However Duiker remains are fairly uncommon in fossil records and there are indications from their anatomy and behaviour that they are amongst the smartest and most complex of antelope. Their brains are apparently the largest (proportionally) of all bovids (ruminating animals with cloven hoofs). They also have a relatively long gestation period and slow growth rate, which might indicate a prolonged learning period. They are known to predict and exploit other animal's behaviour including monkeys, bats and birds. They often seek out these animals and eat the fruit they drop from the trees. Duikers are also know to stalk and eat insects and other small animals. They are also excellent at hiding.

I remember once stumbling across a Grey Duiker in an open field in the Magalies Mountains. As soon as it saw me it froze and didn't run, but instead started to sneaked to the closest tall grass and trees. Even though it was fairly close to me and in plain sight for a good couple of seconds while moving towards the cover my brain didn't fully register it's present, and then once it reached the cover it just vanished, completely! Never was there a rush of sound or movement to "trigger" my attention. It was as if it was never there. The animal just slipped away. I could almost feel it "brain washing" me: "I'm not here I'm not here I'm not here I'm not here". On that day I got respect for the intelligence of Duikers. It is a difficult thing to explain to somebody else, but the animal was able to actively counteract my instincts, to put my senses off balance and then just vanish.

I believe this guy knows some Karate (but don't worry he isn't any good because his headband is only white)

What would a camera trap set at the Woody Cape be without a smiling Bushbuck dropping in for a self portrait. Seriously whats up with the smiles from these guys...

It's a good life being a Bushbuck (Bosbok - Tragelaphus sylvaticus) in the Woody Cape

It has been raining heavily in this part of the country during this camera trapping session and a lot of photographs have moisture on the lens. But sometimes everything comes together in a good way. For instance, I quite like the way the following photograph turned out.

A male Bushbuck browsing in the Eastern Cape forest