Question about African Striped Weasel in Western Cape

So during this CO-VID 19 time, all you can do is fantasize about your next trip and read up about interesting species….

I read up on the African Striped weasel a bit (just because it’s rare and super cool-looking), and I found out something: could it be that it’s much more common in the Western Cape of South Africa than it is, elsewhere? Still not common by any means, but:
I thought there were few records of this species ever, and I was surprised to see that on Inaturalist, there are a few records of this species from the past few years from the South-Western part of South Africa (in particular Western Cape province) with way more pictures than I ever thought existed of this species in the wild.

Anyway – just pondering.

Does anyone know anything about this? And of course if anyone has ever seen this species, it would be interesting to hear about it 🙂

Cheers, and stay strong, eh?



  • WRO

    Dear Rower,

    I have seen Striped weasel last year in august during a night drive in the Kalahari near Mariental, Namibia. This is a bit more to the west when i compare with the geographical distribution in the link on inaturalist.
    Our guide said it was not so common to see one (and he is out as a guide almost every night).
    Unfortunately, i don’t have pics as the weasel was quite nervous.



  • Vladimir Dinets

    Saw one in Masai Mara and one in far northern Kruger.

  • Richard John Power

    Re striped weasel – I have wondered about that and MammalMap will also have an abundance of records of late, previously it was Kzn with a stronghold, and older maps, show very little in WC, It might be a recent phenomenon that the species prevalence increasing there – as WC has generally always had good observer effort – though there are differences in different times, ie more camera traps now, but I would – at a guess say there has been some improvement in their status there – though hard to prove.

    I still havent seen one! 🙁


  • Charles Foley

    Hi Tomer, yes there are quite a few camera trap images of them from the Western Cape and that seems to be where the main studies of the species were carried out – although that was many years ago. I suspect the higher number of photos of the species from the area is partly because they are a bit more common there and partly because there are more people using camera traps in that region. That said, this is a really difficult species to see, and it doesn’t appear to be common anywhere. Weasels can be generally hard to find even when they are common (just ask Jon about his long – finally completed – quest to see a long-tailed weasel), and Striped weasels seem to occur at naturally low densities. Grasslands with lots of rodents seem to be their preferred habitat, although they are found in a surprisingly diverse array of habitats. They are common-ish in the Southern Highlands in south-west Tanzania, and friends of mine who work in that area see them every so often on the roads or while doing field work, but as with most of the mustelids, sightings are very much down to chance. Quite how one goes about finding them I’m not sure. Selecting an area where they are known to occur and spending a lot of time spotlighting is probably the best bet.

  • Pictus Safaris

    Night drives in Mara Naboisho Conservancy are a good bet – I’ve seen several, including once with young. We also had a brief sighting in the uMkhuze section of iSimangaliso in 2016. I’m afraid I can’t help with the Western Cape, as Charles says they are bound to occur at low densities across their range.


    • Charles Foley

      Hi Tom, that’s very useful information about the Mara Naboisho Conservancy. In the Serengeti the Striped weasel is incredibly rare, and hardly ever recorded (including by camera traps) whereas the Zorilla is relatively common. What’s your ratio of Striped weasel/Zorilla sightings in the Mara? Are Zorilla frequently seen there as well, or are they mostly replaced by Striped weasel?


      • Pictus Safaris

        Hi Charles – in roughly 250 night drives in Naboisho (let’s say approx. 750 hours total), I’ve seen zorilla approx. 15 times and striped weasel 3 times. I have seen both species within the same small areas repeatedly (Payia and Pardamat) – drop me a line at if you need co-ordinates, I believe I may have them stored somewhere.

        It’s worth noting that despite also spending time in the National Reserve and some other conservancies, I never saw either species elsewhere.


        • Charles Foley

          Interesting that the two species overlap that closely. Is it an area of very high rodent concentration? I”m curious how many offspring you saw in the mother/young group? That must have been a fantastic sighting.

          • Pictus Safaris

            Payia and Pardamat are very heavily grazed areas year-round, my hypothesis has been that the shorter grass may make hunting conditions slightly easier. I don’t recall rodent densities being particularly high in those areas, most sightings of rats etc. being in the areas dominated by whistling thorn. It may also help that larger predators are pretty much completely absent from these areas, due to the proximity to human habitation – I think I only ever saw one cheetah in that specific area (granted, she was eating a mouse), and no smaller cats, so perhaps rodent populations are less pressured here and I simply didn’t record them.

            The sighting with young was en route to the national reserve in Pardamat, probably around 5.30 in the morning. A brief sighting under red-light, but at least two animals were about half the size of the adult. There was possibly a third a short distance away but we didn’t get a clear visual.


  • Thug Hamster

    Striped weasel or polecat? I filmed it in Tswalu.

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