Don’t Forget the Little Guys

One of the study sites, DRY 2, has been relatively quiet. In four weeks, it has recorded fewer than 20 observations, and no large carnivores. Yet this site has produced some pretty cool captures, particularly of small carnivores that we haven’t seen at any other sites:

An African wild cat, the wild species from which domestic cats descended, stalks a streambed in search of rodents and birds.


A striped polecat (or zorilla), the African equivalent of a skunk, struts past a camera-trap. Beware its raised tail; you don’t want to get on the wrong side of a polecat. One gave Matt a fright when he found it poking around the kitchen.
A Small-spotted genet passes by. Genets commonly eat insects and rodents but will also eat many other small animals, such as birds.















Cameras at other sites captured two of my favorite species of small carnivores – ones I’ve never seen in the wild. The caracal, a species of cat renowned for its jumping ability when pursuing birds, visited a couple of drinking spots.

A caracal approaches a waterhole.

The honey badger, commonly considered the most aggressive mammal on the African continent, found a different waterhole. If you are unfamiliar with honey badgers, I recommend this YouTube video. You do not want to challenge one of these guys.

A honey badger takes a break from intimidating other animals at Neuras. Like the striped polecat, its black and white markings are a warning to other animals to leave it alone.

We often overlook these little guys for larger, more glamorous species. Unfortunately, humans negatively impact small carnivores as well as leopards and hyenas. Though very common, wild cats contract diseases from domestic cats. Vehicles and domestic dogs kill huge numbers of striped polecats. People hunt all of these animals because they occasionally eat chickens or livestock.

Small carnivores deserve our attention and our conservation efforts, too.