Safari after dark
When most avid safari-goers envisage their African adventure, it is unlikely that the animals they imagine seeing are the nocturnal creatures that emerge at dusk. However, this shouldn’t detract from their amazing survival ability in the bush at night, especially as this is when the most powerful predators are on the prowl too. These stealthy creatures are harder to find but more rewarding to spot than the stereotypical bucket-list tick-offs. A safari after dark is a thrilling addition to a traditional safari and one that we highly recommend.
Our namesake, with its snout nose, long ears, powerful claws and hunched demeanor, these sought-after mammals are unique. During the night they are seen, nose to the ground, seeking out termite and ant colonies in woodlands, scrubs and grasslands. Sightings are rare as Emily from our team discovered on her recent trip to Machaba Camp in Botswana. Her guide spotted the distinctive three-finger-like prints in the sand as they tracked the elusive animal but to no avail, unfortunately.
The omnivorous honey badger is another nocturnal favorite; brazen and aggressive, they have been known to attack even the deadliest of predators. Their name is thought to have originated from their ability to ignore bee stings and raid beehives to gorge on the honey and larvae within, but they also happily eat small reptiles, rodents, birds and fruit. During a stay at Luangwa Bush Camp Jo was fortunate enough to spot one hanging around the kitchen waiting for one of their five a day. This incredible photograph was captured by Brendon Jennings, a guide at Kariega Main Lodge on a recent night drive.
Pangolins are solitary and active mostly at night. Sadly, this is not the only reason why sightings are rare as all species are declining because of poaching and illegal trade. &Beyond has pioneered a pangolin conservation programme in Phinda Private Game Reserve to help secure the long-term survival of these intriguing creatures. Guests who stay at any of the six Phinda lodges inlcuding Phinda Homestead can join a researcher from the conservation team as they conduct health checks and collect critical data for their research. Funds raised from this experience go into the project for the purchase of tags, equipment, veterinary costs, and the care of all the reserve’s pangolins. This is a unique and rewarding experience that gives you an insight into these shy and friendly creatures.
A sleek black leopard named Giza rocketed to fame when she was spotted at Laikipia Wilderness Camp during the Covid pandemic. Amid the worldwide chaos, Giza’s golden leopard mother introduced the world to her one-year-old black cub. Laikipia is still her home and safari-goers have flocked from across the world for the opportunity to catch a glimpse of her. Lucinda was lucky enough to watch her in action hunting for a dik-dik during her recent trip to Kenya. Her colour comes from a rare genetic variety and despite Giza being the best known, other black leopards have also been seen in the area, and one might choose to help her continue her genes in due course.
As amazing as the big predators, elephants, buffalos, rhinos, and their well-known fellows may be, consider adding an encounter with Africa’s nocturnal wildlife to your next safari ‘to-do’ list; no matter how large or small, it will guarantee a memorable experience for all.