Cover

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Title Pager, Copyright, Dedication

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Contents

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The region

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p. 7

The very name ‘Kruger’ immediately conjures up a sense of untouched naturalness and the timeless existence of unimaginable generations of animals and other creatures of impressive variety. Whilst the extreme horizons bear witness to the vastness of the...

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The aim of this book

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pp. 8-9

Twenty years ago, the average visitor to Kruger National Park was only interested in seeing the ‘Big 5’ mammals . Now, many of the nearly 1·4 million visitors streaming into the park each year have a broader interest in wildlife – often sparked after, for example,...

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How to use this book

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pp. 10-11

Taxonomy, the science of naming and categorizing animals and plants, is complex and ever-changing . Many books that deal with the identification of safari animals will stick to the strict order of one scientific authority or another, but in this book the animals are...

Glossary of terms

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pp. 12-13

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Kruger’s importance for biodiversity

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p. 14

Kruger is justly famous for its incredible populations of the ‘Big 5’ large mammals which attract visitors from far and wide . The 'Big 5' are Lion, Leopard, African Buffalo, African Elephant and 'Rhinoceros' (actually two species – Black Rhinoceros and White Rhinoceros ...

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The seasons and timing your visit

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p. 15

The climate is characterized by two distinct seasons: a hot and wet rainy period that extends from October to March, and a cool and dry period from April to September . Kruger receives an average annual rainfall of about 550mm, with the highest rainfall...

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Considerations for your visit

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p. 16

Once you have decided when to visit Kruger, the next consideration is where to stay . The choice ranges from luxury lodges (some of the finest in Africa are nestled in the private reserves adjacent to the park) to more moderate places with self-catering...

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The habitats

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p. 17

Kruger’s geology is complex, resulting in many different habitats supporting almost every species of savannah animal in South Africa. Although the area mostly comprises flat, gently undulating plains at an altitude of 250–400m, these are occasionally broken by isolated...

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Characteristic plants

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pp. 18-21

Each of the three broad habitat types is characterized by particular plant species . These habitats, and in some cases particular plants, are mentioned throughout the species accounts – so familiarizing yourself with the habitat types, and learning a few plants will...

Map showing the distribution of habitats in Kruger National Park

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p. 22

Map of Kruger National Park and adjacent private concession areas forming the Greater Kruger National Park conservation area

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p. 23

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How, where and when to watch animals in Kruger National Park

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pp. 24-27

Camp and entrance gates have restrictions on when you are permitted to drive in the park (see table below), although some camp gates may open earlier (04h30) from November to January, so it is worth checking at your specific camp when you arrive . The best chance...

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The ten best wildlife-watching routes

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pp. 28-30

Just about any road can lead to a magical Kruger moment, but some routes regularly turn out to be better than others. The following are ten of the drives that are recommended by experienced visitors to the park. For ease of reference, the location and routing of each...

MAMMALS

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Mammal tracks

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pp. 32-39

Animals often leave distinctive tracks (spoor) in soft ground. Working out what passed by your cabin during the night is a fun distraction in itself, and is likely to enhance your understanding of the bush. The tracks of the most frequently seen mammals are presented...

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Lion Panthera leo

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pp. 40-43

The famous White Lions are not albinos, but are a result of a rare recessive colour gene. Discovered in the mid 1970s in the private Timbavati reserve adjacent to Kruger, three wild White Lions were taken to Pretoria Zoo for...

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Leopard Panthera pardus

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pp. 44-47

This big cat is common and widespread in Kruger, with around 1,000 individuals in the park . Despite their number, Leopards are secretive and seen far less frequently...

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Cheetah Acinonyx jubatus

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pp. 48-51

The Cheetah is the smallest of Africa’s ‘big cats’ and is built like a greyhound . It is rare and seldom seen, with fewer than...

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Serval Leptailurus serval

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p. 52

This medium-sized cat is uncommon in Kruger. Its nocturnal and secretive habits mean that it is not frequently seen, and your best chance of encountering one is on a night drive. Its size, combined with...

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Caracal Caracal caracal

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p. 53

Uncommon in Kruger, this medium-sized cat is nocturnal and secretive and the best chance of encountering one is on a night drive. The Caracal's size, red coat and...

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Wild Cat Felis sylvestris

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p. 54

This small cat resembles a ‘tabby cat’ and, although common, is elusive and seen infrequently in Kruger, usually on night drives . As the only small ‘wild’ cat, it is not easily confused with any of Kruger’s other...

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African Civet Civettictis civetta

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p. 55

This medium-sized relative of the genets looks more like a short-legged dog. It is fairly common in Kruger and frequently seen on night drives. The African Civet...

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Common Genet Genetta genetta

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p. 56

Genets differ from civets in their more slender, sleek and almost serpentine shape, long, ringed tail and more pointed snout. Their fur is greyish-brown with dark spots, and white and dark smudges on the muzzle. Both genet...

Large-spotted Genet Genetta maculata

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p. 57

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Spotted Hyena Crocuta crocuta

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pp. 58-61

The hyena genus Crocuta was widespread in Eurasia several million years ago, and dispersed to Africa before dying out in Eurasia. Scientists believe that hyenas were originally quite solitary creatures in the forested parts of Eurasia, and that the nature of the open savannahs in...

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Aardwolf Proteles cristata

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pp. 62-63

Aardwolves are small, dog-like relatives of the hyenas . Once regular in southern Kruger, they are now extremely rare, perhaps even locally extinct . The name...

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Banded Mongoose Mungos mungo

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p. 64

A large, and gregarious mongoose that is common throughout Kruger . Told from other mongooses by its large size and bands running over the back . Groups of Banded Mongoose den together each...

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Common Dwarf Mongoose Helogale parvula

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p. 65

This small, group-living mongoose is common throughout Kruger and told from other mongooses by its tiny size and dark brown coloration. It is Africa’s smallest...

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Common Slender Mongoose Herpestes sanguineus

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p. 66

This medium-sized mongoose is widespread but uncommon in Kruger; it is told from other mongooses by its elongated...

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White-tailed Mongoose Ichneumia albicauda

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p. 67

A large, solitary, nocturnal mongoose that is uncommon but widespread in Kruger . It is told from other mongooses by its large, bushy, white tail, and by the fact that it is...

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Zorilla Ictonyx striatus

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p. 68

The Zorilla is a distinctive small, nocturnal skunk-like carnivore in the weasel family . It occurs throughout Kruger but is scarce and rarely seen, even on night drives . It has a small stomach which means it must eat...

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Honey Badger Mellivora capensis

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p. 69

Although uncommon and seldom seen in Kruger, the Honey Badger’s contrasting pale greyish upperparts and dark...

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Black-backed Jackal Canis mesomelas

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p. 70

Smaller than Spotted Hyena and African Wild Dog, this fox-like animal is common and widespread throughout Kruger. It is similar to the Side-striped Jackal but has a dark back and reddish legs, a black-tipped...

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Side-striped Jackal Canis adustus

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p. 71

This small, silvery, fox-like animal is widespread but uncommon throughout Kruger – most often seen on night drives . It is similar to the Black-backed Jackal but is paler, has a pale stripe along the flanks...

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African Wild Dog Lycaon pictus

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pp. 72-73

Although rare, the African Wild Dog is regularly encountered in central and southern Kruger – and easily identified by...

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Temminck’s Ground Pangolin Smutsia temminckii

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p. 74

This scaly anteater is rare in Kruger, and one of the most difficult animals to see due to its secretive nature – resting up in burrows or termitaria during the day and emerging at night . The animal moves...

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Aardvark Orycteropus afer

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p. 75

This distinctive ‘pig-like’ anteater is scarce in Kruger, very secretive, and rarely seen, even on night drives . It specializes in feeding on ants and termites, particularly Anoplolepis ants and Trinervitermes and Hodotermes termites . Most of an Aardvark’s...

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Spotted-necked Otter Hydrictis maculicollis

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p. 76

Otters dispatch smaller prey underwater, whereas larger items are dismembered and eaten at the surface. They excavate their own resting places, called holts, under rocks, among roots, or similar sites close to water, which are also used by females for giving birth. Mating can occur any time, but...

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African Clawless Otter Aonyx capensis

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p. 77

Scarce and seldom seen in Kruger, this large otter is similar to the Spotted-necked Otter but has much whiter cheeks . It is a...

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African Elephant Loxodonta africana

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pp. 78-81

Elephants are huge and unmistakable, and a frequent sight throughout Kruger . Having evolved from pig-like swampdwellers some 50 million years ago, Earth’s largest terrestrial mammal is justly...

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White Rhinoceros Ceratotherium simum

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pp. 82-83

Rhinos first appeared in Asia during the Eocene, about 50 million years ago (MYA), where three species still persist. Rhinos were present in Africa by about 10 MYA, and the two African species separated from a common ancestor around 5 MYA. The characteristic horns, which grow...

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Black Rhinoceros Diceros bicornis

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pp. 84-85

Uncommon and secretive, the Black Rhino is mostly restricted to the south and central parts of Kruger, with a population numbering around 600 individuals . It...

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Hippopotamus Hippopotamus amphibious

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pp. 86-89

This large and portly animal is common throughout Kruger, with a population of some 3,000 individuals. It is regularly found in permanent water (e.g. large rivers and dams) and sometimes seen on...

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Common Warthog Phacochoerus africanus

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pp. 90-91

This small pig is common in Kruger, with numbers estimated at around 4,000 individuals . It is diurnal, grey in colour and runs with tail raised; males have...

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Plains Zebra Equus quagga

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pp. 92-93

This unmistakable black-and-white horse is common in Kruger, with a population estimated at more than 26,000 . Zebras digest their plant food by a hindgut...

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Giraffe Giraffa camelopardalis

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pp. 94-97

This unmistakable large and bizarre animal is fairly common in Kruger, with a population estimated at around 7,500. It...

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African Buffalo Syncerus caffer

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pp. 98-101

The massive African Buffalo is the second most common ungulate in Kruger after the Impala . It is also the most frequently...

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Common Eland Tragelaphus oryx

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pp. 102-103

This large, pale antelope is uncommon in Kruger, with a population estimated at around 450 individuals . It is the world’s second largest antelope after the Giant...

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Greater Kudu Tragelaphus strepsiceros

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pp. 104-105

The Greater Kudu is a large, tall, stately antelope that is common in Kruger, with a population estimated at more than 15,000 . In order to sustain themselves, they need...

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Common Duiker Sylvicapra grimmia

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p. 106

This small brownish antelope is numerous and regularly seen in Kruger . It is told from other small antelope by its greyer...

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Sharpe’s Grysbok Raphicerus sharpei

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p. 107

This secretive antelope is uncommon and seldom seen in Kruger as it prefers impenetrable thicket habitat and is mostly active at night . It is told from Common....

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Steenbok Raphicerus campestris

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p. 108

Numerous and regularly seen in Kruger, this small brownish antelope is told from other small antelope by its white belly and striking black-and-white patterning on...

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Klipspringer Oreotragus oreotragus

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p. 109

This small brown antelope is uncommon and local in Kruger . It occurs in rocky places, unlike other antelope, and can ...

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Southern Reedbuck Redunca arundinum

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pp. 110-111

Most easily seen around Pretoriuskop, this medium-sized, deer-like antelope is scarce in Kruger, with numbers estimated at around 300 individuals . It is only likely...

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Bushbuck Tragelaphus scriptus

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pp. 112-113

The Bushbuck is a medium-sized antelope which is fairly common in Kruger, with numbers estimated at over 500 individuals . It is easily seen in certain rest camps in...

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Nyala Tragelaphus angasii

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pp. 114-115

As well as looking very different, male and female Nyalas have several ecological differences . The large males require a high calorific intake and select tall, woody...

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Roan Antelope Hippotragus equinus

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pp. 116-117

The population of this large antelope has crashed dramatically in Kruger in recent years, probably due to predation and drought, and currently numbers only about...

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Sable Antelope Hippotragus niger

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pp. 118-119

This large, stately antelope is scarce in Kruger, with a population of around 290 individuals, mostly in the northern half of...

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Waterbuck Kobus ellipsiprymnus

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pp. 120-121

The Waterbuck is a large, thickset antelope which is common in Kruger, with numbers estimated at around 5,000...

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Impala Aepyceros melampus

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pp. 122-123

The tall and elegant Impala is the commonest antelope in Kruger, numbering over 150,000 individuals . It is told from other antelope by its brown coloration and...

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Tsessebe Damaliscus lunatus

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pp. 124-125

This large brown antelope is rare in Kruger, with a population estimated at around 200 individuals . Within Kruger, it is told from...

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Common Wildebeest Connochaetes taurinus

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pp. 126-127

This large brown antelope is common in Kruger, with numbers estimated at more than 12,000 individuals. It has a distinctive...

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Scrub Hare Lepus saxatilis

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p. 128

The Scrub Hare is frequently seen on night drives . The African Savannah Hare Lepus microtis (not illustrated) is also...

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Springhare Pedetes capensis

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p. 129

Despite its name, the distinctive Springhare, with its long hind legs and tail, is not a hare at all, but a rodent . Even so, it has no close relatives and is placed....

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Rock Hyrax Procavia capensis

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p. 130

This odd, rodent-like animal is fairly common on rocky outcrops in Kruger . It has tusk-like incisors that...

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Cape Porcupine Hystrix africaeaustralis

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p. 131

This large and distinctive rodent is common in Kruger, but is nocturnal and seldom seen . Porcupines are covered...

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Vervet (Monkey) Chlorocebus pygerythrus

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pp. 132-133

The Vervet is the most common and widespread monkey in Kruger, living in large troops with a complex social structure. Males move to new troops when they...

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Chacma Baboon Papio ursinus

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pp. 134-135

Th e Chacma Baboon is a large brown monkey that is common and widespread in Kruger . It occurs in troops, which can...

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Southern Lesser Galago Galago moholi

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p. 136

In their own family, the galagos (or bushbabys) are an ancient lineage of primates that originated some 40–50 million years ago (MYA) and dominated their niche before the evolution of monkeys, which largely replaced them, around 30 MYA. Galagos are strictly nocturnal primates that roost...

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Thick-tailed Greater Galago Otolemur crassicaudatus

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p. 137

This large, possum-like galago is fairly common in Kruger and occasionally seen on night drives or by searching in camps...

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Smith’s Bush Squirrel Paraxerus cepapi

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p. 138

This small squirrel is common and widespread in Kruger, and light and agile enough to be able to access food beyond the reach of most other mammals . When resources are abundant, they cache seeds...

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Epauletted fruit-bats Epomophorus spp.

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p. 139

These large bats are fairly common and widespread in Kruger . They are told from the 40 or so other bat species recorded in...

REPTILES

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Nile Crocodile Crocodylus niloticus

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pp. 140-143

The huge Nile Crocodile is common throughout Kruger wherever there are wetlands . The largest individuals can be...

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Leopard Tortoise Stigmochelys pardalis

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p. 144

The Leopard Tortoise is fairly common in south and central Kruger, but scarce in the north . Bell’s Hinged Tortoise Kinixys belliana and Speke’s Hinged Tortoise K. spekii (neither illustrated) also occur...

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Serrated Hinged Terrapin Pelusios sinuatus

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p. 145

This fairly large terrapin with a high-domed carapace is very common in wetlands throughout Kruger, and only likely to be...

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Water Monitor Varanus niloticus

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pp. 145-146

This fairly large terrapin with a high-domed carapace is very common in wetlands throughout Kruger, and only likely to be...

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Rock Monitor Varanus albigularis

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pp. 146-147

Monitors are large and muscular lizards with sharp claws that are used to climb trees and river embankments, tear open nests of reptiles and birds or dig out prey. Their forked tongues have highly developed olfactory senses, allowing them to detect food, enemies or mates by...

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Puff Adder Bitis arietans

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p. 148

Although common, the cryptic and nocturnal Puff Adder is seldom seen in Kruger . When threatened, Puff Adders often inflate their bodies (hence their...

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Mozambique Spitting Cobra Naja mossambica

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p. 149

Snakebites are extremely rare. Millions of tourists visit Kruger annually and most never even see a snake. The press often sensationalizes any incident, but...

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Black Mamba Dendroaspis polylepis

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p. 150

This large snake is common and regularly seen in Kruger, particularly during the wet season . It is active and capable of moving at speeds of up to 4m/second and...

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Southern African Python Python natalensis

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p. 151

Common and regularly seen in Kruger, this huge, placid snake (one of Africa's largest) is non-venomous, but when provoked may occasionally bite, leading to...

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Common Flap-necked Chameleon Chamaeleo dilepis

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p. 152

Although this strange lizard is common and often seen in Kruger, it is most easily found at night, when it sleeps with its tail coiled and turns a conspicuous...

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Southern Tree Agama Acanthocercus atricollis

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p. 153

Common and regularly seen in Kruger, this unmistakable lizard has the ability to change in appearance depending on its circumstances . During display, the male’s...

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Rainbow Skink Trachylepis margaritifer

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p. 154

This beautiful little lizard is abundant in suitable habitat throughout Kruger . Each dominant adult male establishes a territority, which it defends against other...

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Striped Skink Trachylepis striata

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p. 155

This small lizard, which is common in Kruger, can be told from other skinks by the two pale stripes that run down its back . They can often be seen basking in the sun in the early mornings in an exposed...

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Variable Skink Trachylepis varia

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p. 156

The Variable Skink is a small lizard with two white stripes along its sides . It is common in Kruger, and likes to bask in the sun in a prominent position on a rock...

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Common Tropical House Gecko Hemidactylus mabouia

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p. 157

One of 13 species of gecko in Kruger, this small lizard is abundant and found in most rest camps, where it has a habit of hunting...

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Common Giant Plated Lizard Matobosaurus validus

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p. 158

Second only to monitor lizards in terms of size and weight, the Common Giant Plated Lizard is a fairly common species in Kruger in suitable rocky habitat . It...

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Rough-scaled Plated Lizard Broadleysaurus major

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p. 159

This medium-sized lizard is common in the southern half of Kruger, but rare farther north . Its smaller size and the...

AMPHIBIANS

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African Bullfrog Pyxicephalus edulis

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pp. 160-162

In most frog species, eggs are laid in the water, and when tadpoles hatch they are entirely aquatic. They have gills and a tail...

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Southern Foam-nest Frog Chiromantis xerampelina

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p. 163

Th e Southern Foam-nest Frog is easily identifi ed by unique sucker-like lobes on its toes and fi ngers . It is common, but most oft en seen during the wet season . At the fi rst rains these medium-sized frogs...

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Banded Rubber Frog Phrynomantis bifasciatus

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p. 164

The unmistakable Banded Rubber Frog is the only boldly marked red-and-black frog in the region . It is fairly common and widespread in Kruger and most often seen ...

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Snoring Puddle Frog Phrynobatrachus natalensis

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p. 165

The Snoring Puddle Frog is fairly common and widespread in Kruger, most often seen during the wet season . It is often confused ...

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Bubbling Kassina Kassina senegalensis

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p. 166

Most often seen during the wet season, this small- to medium-sized frog is fairly common and widespread in Kruger. The rarer...

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Plain Grass Frog Ptychadena anchietae

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p. 167

This medium-sized frog is fairly common and widespread in Kruger, and most often seen during the wet season . Although the Plain Grass Frog is the commonest...

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Bushveld Rain Frog Breviceps adspersus

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p. 168

This pudgy frog is fairly common and widespread in Kruger, and most often seen during the wet season . The similar Mozambique Rain Frog...

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Painted Reed Frog Hyperolius marmoratus

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p. 169

Most often seen during the wet season, this small frog is fairly common and widespread in Kruger . Despite being extremely variable in coloration, it is easily...

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Further reading and online resources

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p. 170

This book focuses on the mammals, reptiles and amphibians you are most likely to see during a visit to Kruger National Park. However, if you find something that you cannot identify, do not despair: there are separate, comprehensive, books that cover all the ...

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South African National Parks (SANParks) main regulations

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p. 171

When visiting any of the South African National Parks (SANParks) it is important to keep in mind that for both your safety, and that of the plants and animals, that the following main regulations must be adhered to at all times. The transgression of...

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Rhinos on the edge

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p. 172

About 30% of the world’s White and Black Rhinoceroses are found in Kruger National Park. Despite being strictly protected, poaching continues to be a major scourge...

Acknowledgements and photo credits

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p. 173

Index

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pp. 174-176