Monday, 3 February 2014

Wildlife and Nature Pictures - Dwarf Mongoose


Wildlife and Nature Pictures - Dwarf Mongoose (Helogale parvula) Africa's Smallest Carnivore.

It always astonishes me when I hear people returning from game drives or outings in South Africa's nature/game reserves saying they ''haven't seen much wildlife''. Huh! If you really look, the 'bush' can tell you so much without actually seeing any wildlife at all! But that's another whole new post best kept for another day.  

Before I discuss about the Dwarf Mongoose (Helogale parvula) one of South Africa's smallest carnivores, I want to recant one of my training exercises as a field guide. When our instructor called us for an 'observation' exercise one morning, he asked us to 'walk through the bush (about a 100 mtrs) and pointed to the location to start. All he asked of us was to be observant and to simply tell him what we see. 

Well after the 3rd or fourth attempt most of our group had missed a 'red dust pan' hanging off a tree, another was a 'neck tie' tied around a bush and even a 'broom' laying in the grass, all with in 10 mtrs of our path through the bush! What I learn't that day was not to go into the bush with pre-conceived ideas of what you will see or expect to see, lions, leopards, the Big 5 and the like, look 'into' the bush, 'train' your eyes to your surroundings and take it slowly their is no rush or prizes to be won. By doing just this simple little thing my wildlife, photography and nature experiences have more than doubled I would safely say to what they used to be before I applied these simple principles -  'look and ye shall see'

Applying what I have just mentioned above, my wife and I were at a picnic spot in the Kruger National Park early one morning where we had stopped for breakfast and a cup of coffee. I was taking our rubbish to the rubbish bin which was against  sheer, craggy rocks. I put my rubbish in the bin and stood their looking around for a minute, when I gazed up about 10 meters above me I saw this little dwarf mongoose with his head peaking out from the rocks. I waited a further few minutes for him to appear fully and found an opportunity not only to observe but also to photograph him. If I had been less observant and not stopped and look around these rocks, this opportunity to see and photograph one of South Africa's smallest carnivores the Dwarf Mongoose, would have simply passed me by. 

Only found in South Africa in the far North East of the country the Dwarf Mongoose is literally what this mongoose is, a dwarf in size but not in stature at only a mere 25cm (10 inchs) and about 350g (1/2 lb) in weight. However, don't be fooled as the Dwarf Mongoose is a ferocious predator in its own right and is more than capable as a predator of snakes, lizards, small birds and rodents amongst other things. The Dwarf Mongoose is a diurnal (active during the day) animal, very territorial  with males marking their territory with anal and cheek gland secretions, that said they are a very sociable species, living in family groups of up to 20 + members headed up by a dominant pair.

Dwarf Mongoose (Helogale parvula) sat on rocks, its South Africa's smallest wildlife carnivore
Dwarf Mongoose (Helogale parvula) South Africa's Smallest Carnivore