Mossel Bay, RSA, Malaria Free

Mammal Life

Nyaru Game Lodge is home to 26 mammal species, however, since many of the smaller mammal species (those weighing less than 5 kilograms), are nocturnal and very secretive; they have not been recorded yet, and thus the mammal list is still growing. Apart from the small mammal species, the reserve is home to 20 large mammal species, such as the Southern Giraffe, the Plains Zebra and the Bontebok. These large mammal species are easier to spot and they are usually encountered a safari.

Large Mammals Species:

The largest mammal to be found on the nature reserve at the Nyaru Game Lodge is the Southern Giraffe, Giraffa camelopardalis giraffa. The Giraffe is the tallest land animal in the world and an adult male Giraffe can be over five metres tall and weighing up to 1.8 tons! The Southern Giraffe is an extra-limital species, meaning that it did not occur naturally in the area, but was introduced there from elsewhere in the country. There are also several other extra-limital species at Nyaru including: Blue Wildebeest, Impala, Nyala and Waterbuck. All of these species have adapted well to this environment. By having these species at the Nyaru Game Lodge, we make it possible for you to view these fascinating animals in a malaria free area that is relatively close to Cape Town.

Apart from the above named species there are also mammals on the reserve that are native to this area. The most noteworthy of these mammals is the Bontebok. The Bontebok is a species of antelope that occur only on coastal plains of the Western Cape Province of South Africa. When the European settlers arrived in the Cape in the 17th century this spectacular antelope was hunted to the brink of extinction, but through thorough conservation efforts their population has recovered quite well. Even so, the Bontebok is still listed as being Near-threatened by the IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species.

The largest carnivore at Nyaru Game Lodge is the Cape Mountain Leopard – however, it is not confined to the reserve and is highly nomadic. The spoor of these free roaming Cape Mountain Leopards, have been found on the reserve as well as on the bordering reserves, but these animals are nocturnal and highly elusive thus making them extremely hard to see. Apart from the Cape Mountain Leopard, the second largest carnivore to be found on the reserve at Nyaru Game Lodge is the Caracal, resembling a lynx. It prey on small mammals, but giving the opportunity, it will also catch young antelope.

Smaller Mammals:

A host of small mammal species (those weighing less than 5 kilograms) occur naturally on the reserve at the Nyaru Game Lodge. These include carnivores such as the Small-spotted Genet and the Small Grey Mongoose; as well as herbivores such as the Scrub Hare and the Vlei Rat.

You can download the reserve’s mammal check list by clicking on the link below:
MAMMAL CHECK LIST (click to download PDF)

Some notes on Mammal Biology & basic Ecology:

All mammal species have certain special characteristics that set them apart from all other animals in the animal kingdom. For example, female mammals have mammary glands that produce milk which they use for suckling their young. Moreover, nearly all mammal species have covering of hair over their bodies which insulates then from the cold. Uniquely, mammals have a four chambered heart and 3 delicate bones in their middle ear that assists them with hearing.

Mammal ecology deals with the structure and function of each species as well as the complicated interactions between them. An important aspect of mammal ecology is their feeding ecology, Mammals can be roughly divided into three groups, namely the carnivores (otherwise known as meat eaters, such as the Caracal), the omnivores (otherwise known as generalists, such as the Bushpig), and the herbivores (otherwise known as plant eaters, such the Impala). Herbivores can be further sub-divided into yet another three groups, namely the grazers (otherwise known as the grass eaters, such as the Blue Wildebeest or Brindled Gnu), the browsers (otherwise known as the leave eaters such as the Southern Giraffe), and the mixed feeders (that eat both grass and leaved, such as the Greater Kudu).

Each Mammal has a specific niche where it fits into its environment regarding its structure and function. One of the determinants of a mammal’s ecological niche is its behaviour; for example, the time of day when it is most active. There are certain mammal species, such as the Aardwolf, that are most active at night and thus referred to as being nocturnal. Then there are mammals such as the Vervet Monkey, which are most active during the day and thus referred to as being diurnal. There are also mammals such as the Small Grey Mongoose, which are most active at dawn and dusk, and thus referred to as being crepuscular.