Feeding frenzy on a hot Kalahari day
During February of 2016 we spent 10 days in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, South Africa. Being mid summer temperatures were high and at midday most creatures were either in deep shade or in burrows.
On 7th February at midday, with the shade temperature at 36 degrees Celsius (we estimated surface temperatures in the sun at more than 42 degrees C), we observed a large emergence of termite allates (Hodotermes sp.). This was unusual in itself, as these normally occur during the cooler hours.
We pulled to the side of the road and observed an adult and subadult Bushveld Sengi (Elephantulus intufi) dashing from the shade of low scrub to snatch up allates and run back to cover to eat them, on numerous occasions.
Most unusual of all, there were also large numbers of adult and young Common Barking Geckos (Ptenopus garrulus) dashing from their burrows, snatching up allates, and then running back with their prey to their shelters.
The sengis taking advantage of this midday feast was not unexpected but the timing of the termite allate emergence was, and especially the foraging activity of the barking geckos. These burrowing geckos are considered to be strictly crepuscular and nocturnal. The estimated surface temperature of the substrate made this feeding frenzy surprising.