This is an amazing little animal that has the speed of greased lightning! The slender mongoose is the most ferocious of the mongooses and is frequently seen, on game drives, crossing the road at high speed, undeniably recognised by its speckled russet colour and black-tipped tail.
They are diurnal solitary animals that keep a territory. Their diet consists mostly of birds, rodents, snakes and lizards but they will, at
times, also hunt insects. Geographically their colour can range from grey to dark brown. The meaning of the Latin/Greek name translates to an animal that creeps on all fours and that is blood red or blood thirsty. Quite apt if you ask me!
In my experience, what I find most amazing is the fact that birds and other smaller mammals will sometimes alarm call louder about a slender mongoose’s presence than they would for a bigger predator such as a leopard.
We were on an early morning drive on the Bhanyini plains and were watching the two cheetah brothers scouring the area. There were lots of wildebeest with their young calves about and nearby was a bachelor herd of zebra. As the cheetahs took up positions to hunt a calf one of the zebra stallion kept blocking their view.
It was during our morning drive that we came across fresh tracks of the wild dogs in the Nhoro area, on the northern side of the reserve. The tracks told us they were moving in a southerly direction, and with the sun already heating during this time of the day we knew that it would not be long before they would take a rest in an area that has some water and shade. The tracks kept on heading south and we thought that with plenty of water at Sosiji Dam this could be the area they were heading. But, to our surprise, there was no sign of them there.
The temperature was very high, above 40 degrees Celsius, and so I decided that afternoon to sit and wait quietly in the shade with my guests at Lojaan Dam. Lojaan is one of my favourite places on the property. The scenery is amazing, and this area with its hills, drainage lines and thick bush is the right habitat for buffaloes and black rhino.
Sitting in Hwata blind (our sunken photographic hide) is an incredible way to wait for animals to come and drink, especially when the heat beats down on the earth and scorches the last bit of moisture out of almost everything. At this time of the year one can sit in the blind and always have something to watch, from the endless amount of doves that just seem to keep coming to drink, to the almost resident impalas around the open areas of the pan. It’s always great to see this action, but of course the action that we all hope for is the arrival of the bigger pachyderms.