17 March 2016

Rhebok Running Wild

Earlier this month I found myself driving back home on the highway and approaching an off-ramp which could take me home, but via a longer slightly more scenic road. The road passes through the Tygerberg foothills and is mostly covered by crop fields and quarries. Even though "that special human touch" is present throughout the route it still provides a feeling of "open skies" and beats traveling on the highway. So I took the off-ramp and went on my merry way.

A few kilometers down the road something caught the corner of my eye, it was an animal...

A pair of Grey Rhebok (Vaalribbok - Pelea capreolus) on the greater Tygerberg hills

There standing on the slope of one of the undulating hills was a Grey Rhebok! What a pleasant surprise! I pulled over at the first safe spot, got out of the car and started walking back to get a closer look.

The animal was very skittish and I couldn't get close at all. I only had my mobile phone with me and managed to snap some "for the record" photographs.

The Tygerberg Nature Reserve is home to a herd of Grey Rhebok and there are plenty of camera trap photographs of them on this blog. However, the nature reserve is only very small part of the greater Tygerberg Hills area and is fully fenced off. Thus, at least to some extent, the Tygerberg herd isn't fully wild. It is a managed population.

Other hand, these two Grey Rhebok on the slope seem truly wild and appear to roam the small patches of natural vegetation and crop land that still exist along the foothills.

The reason I'm particularly excited about this sighting is because I've heard rumors about the presence of wild Grey Rhebok, but I wasn't sure how true or recent the reports were.

I contacted the reserve manager about this sighting and she said that they are aware of the presence of a herd just north-east of the reserve. This sighting was still further north-west and I'm tempted to think it might be a second herd, but I'm not sure how large their territories are.

I'm definitely putting these "wild herds" on my list of possible future camera trapping projects. It will be tricky to get access to good camera trap locations, but it might yield interesting results...

The Grey Rhebok quickly disappeared over the ridge

I really wish these animals the best of luck. They will need it as they try to scratch out a living in an ever changing, and shrinking, world.

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