New Trip Report – South Africa

Nice new report from Mike Richardson who scored an impressive 65 mammals during a fortnight in South Africa. Species include Black-footed Cat, Caracal, Wild Dog, Honey Badger and Aardvark.



  • tomeslice

    That sounds like an AWESOME trip report!!! I’m very very jealous.. I’m going to Tanzania in February where all these species (black footed cat, caracal, wild dog, honey badger and aardvark) are present, but not easy to find… I would love to see the actual trip report but for some reason it’s in a zip file, and when I open it I get a bunch of individual files and some pictures but no trip report.. Am I just computer-challenged or is there an error?

  • Jon Hall

    Tomer, it should be a .docx file and it seems to work when I click and it downloads to my mac…. could you try again? Not sure what the problem is. I can email you the attachment direct if you like – if you send me your email address on facebook.. cheers Jon

  • tomeslice

    I got it to work, from my phone strangely.
    But indeed an awesome report! Add Aardwolf to the highlight list, and the fact that they saw all of South Africa’s cats besides the Cheetah in 1 trip is definitely impressive!!

    I’m still working on my Tanzania Safari itinerary and I’m hoping to get all the same highlights (well, actually there are no black-footed cats in tanzania.. but replace that with a cheetah). I actually did a LOT of research, and contacted some key people like Charles Foley, author of the upcoming book Mammals of Tanzania, who helped me find key locations for some of the harder-to-find mammals, such as the aardvark, the aardwolf, striped hyena, caracal etc. so I definitely have some valueable info on some mammals that aren’t encountered very frequently in Tanzania. I will share and elaborate as I get closer to completing my research or after I get back from the trip because I’m sure I’ll be smarter then.

  • Coke Smith

    Great report! Is there a link we can visit with more images? I know what you mean about the night spotting activities at Kruger… Hit and miss, but we made the night safaris every night we were there last time in ’09 and were very successful in overtaking the vehicle to focus on the smaller and cooler night time critters. We had three powerful spotlights and missed very little… And after the other folks onboard saw how fascinating some of the lesser-known critters were, they were eager to get involved and excited too…Of course there was sometimes a couple people who shouldn’t have been in Kruger to begin with…. But the spotlighting in Namibia is a complete waste of time and money. Very expensive and those darn red-lights are simply useless for good views, although I do understand the logic behind their use…But I am not convinced there are any data to support them being used….Anyone know for sure?

  • Vladimir Dinets

    Coke: red lights sure work in caves and in very dense forests, but not in open areas, unless you are looking for very small stuff on foot.
    There are some good places for spotlighting in Namibia, but most of them are garbage dumps 🙂

  • Jon Hall

    I read a paper 15 years ago about spotlighting in Australia comparing success rates with different intensities of light and the dimmer lights were more productive. But this was in the rainforest looking for arboreal mammals… as Vladimir says there is a trade off between range of light and propensity to hide from it. I think the trade off works in favour of bright lights in open areas, dimmer lights in forest. And I have pretty much given up on any organised big group spotlighting…. on the rare occasions I have seen anything interesting its only been for a couple of seconds as the truck speeds past to look for the Big 5. So I’m happier wandering around the camp looking for rodents or – better – staying in some private area where I can do what I want

  • Coke Smith

    Hi Vladimir and Jon. I can see the benefits in forested areas and closed conditions being more suitable for the red or dimmer lights. Etosha was where we had such negative experiences with the red lights – very open and many of the animals were off the main track quite a bit… When we got off the beaten path in Namibia, we actually had some very good spotlighting. And of course this was private too and we could do as we pleased…sweet. I remember in Madagascar, our guide, Christian (the same chap you used, Jon), insisted on us turning off our lights while he used a very basic and dim light. At first, Som and I were a bit nervous about missing a lot, but I don’t think we missed a thing! We nailed many species and many examples during our three nights at Kirindy. We were sold on the dim lights that night…

  • Mike Richardson

    Thanks for the comments everyone. Coke: we are slowly adding images to our Flickr account although many photos are just record shots. Our website will also have a far more detailed report when I finally get round to writing it. It will also have photos. Please note our website is currently in the process of being rebuilt following problems with the previous host. Some reports still lack photos!

    The night drives in Kruger are still worth doing although they can be a little frustrating for the true mammal enthusiasts. Most of the paying public don’t even bother to bring binoculars so there is little wonder they show no interest in distant eyeshine. On one occasion I passed my binoculars around the truck so everyone could see a Serval. Most agreed it was the highlight of the night.

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