Small mammal highlights from our latest trip to Botswana and Namibia - February/March 2017
MALBROUCK'S MONKEY - Chlorocebus cynosuros:
A troop of these monkeys was encountered at the Drotsky Cabins campsite along the Okavango River in the Botswana Panhandle. This is the first time we have encountered this monkey outside Zambia. Previously placed as a subspecies of the Vervet Monkey (Chlorocebus pygerythrus), there are now 6 accepted species within the 'vervet monkey' group. Apart from the obvious physical differences, such as flesh-coloured skin on the face, in our experience they have a more gentle temperament than the Vervet.
STRIPED TREE SQUIRREL (CONGO ROPE SQUIRREL) - Funisciurus congicus
This small squirrel has one of the highest habitat tolerances of any African tree squirrel, from lowland forest to semi-arid, wooded, rock outcrops. In Namibia they are restricted to the far north-west, including western Etosha National Park, but the best locality to see it is at the Palmwag Lodge in Damaraland. Relax with a beer at the pub and one, or more, will oblige with a visit.
DAMARA GROUND SQUIRREL - Xerus princeps
Unlike the Southern African Ground Squirrel (Xerus inauris), the Damara Ground Squirrel is usually solitary and not colonial and occupies rocky not sandy terrain. They tend to be more difficult to approach and not easy subjects for the cameras. In fact several images purporting to be this species on the internet are in fact ofSouthern African Ground Squirrels. Palmwag Lodge in Damaraland has several resident Damara Ground Squirrels but it requires patience as they are rather timid and rarely stay in on place for long.
KAOKOVELD ROCK HYRAX - Procavia capensis welwitschii
Another species that has long eluded our cameras. We have seen them on previous trips but never close enough to get good images. We knew of their presence in the Dolomite outcrops in Western Etosha National Park but none were used to close human approach. With the presence of Dolomite Lodge, this has resulted in fairly large numbers of this hyrax becoming used to the presence of people. They are all along the outcrop, including in the vicinity of the restaurant. Unlike other Procavia capensis that have a dark dorsal spot, Kaokoveld Rock Hyrax have yellowish to white dorsal spots.