Zimanga Private Reserve, South Africa
Scavengers, hyenas, vultures, Mirabeau Storks, jackals and the like, are an important part of the ecosystem in Africa. Hyenas and vultures in particular are necessary to keep the spread of bacteria from rotting carcasses that can cause disease in other wildlife, domestic animals and people. Their system allows them to ingest these bacteria without harm to them. The “Clean Up Crews” as a whole keep the African savannas clean and disease free.
The Scavenger Hide is a wonderful place to watch the behavior and hierarchy of the various scavengers. We didn’t see any hyenas at this session, but we did view a variety of birds and mammals.
The White-backed vulture is commonly seen in large numbers either waiting in the wings for a predator to have his fill or on a carcass that has been abandoned. Occasionally, if food is scarce, they might take down a sick or dying animal, but their main job is to clean up what others have left behind. When feeding they have a strict social order based on body size and beak strength. After eating their fill they would frequently roost on nearby branches to rest.
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The Woolly-necked stork is a wading bird that occasionally scavenges. At one time it was on the endangered list, but has staged a comeback in recent years. Oddly, storks and vultures share the same ancestry.
Although opportunistic hunters Jackals are frequently seen at the sight of a kill. As they are outranked by most of the other scavengers they will wait in the background for an chance to dart in and grab a bite.
Intelligent, curious, fearless and cheeky, the Pied Crows will pull the tail feathers of vultures and dare much larger animals. They mate for life and are very sociable. One of these crows knew we were in the hide although he couldn’t see though the glass.
To round out the morning a Glossy Starling came by to see if there was anything there for him.
Still more posts to come both from South Africa and from Spain. If you haven’t signed up to be notified by email when new images are posted, please do so at the top of this page. Your comments and feedback are always welcome. Thanks for stopping by! Cheryl