Midnight feast

Bushpigs (Potamochoerus larvatus) are not often seen on Mountainlands Nature  Reserve as they are mostly nocturnal. These stout appearing animals grow up to 70cm tall and with their shaggy, rust coloured coats and bristly white hair along their backs are easily recognisable, opportunistic omnivores. They will eat tubers, bulbs, insect larvae, small reptiles, bird eggs, carrion and even small mammals. They may play an important role in the dispersal of seeds and serve as a food source for larger predators like leopards. Because they find carrion so moreish they also have an important role to play in reducing the risk of disease to other animals by cleaning up carcasses.

Recently, we came across the carcass of a wildebeest under trees next to a ditch. Evidently it has been dead for a few days already. We decided to install a trap camera to see what will come to scavenge. A sounder of bushpigs found the rotting odour sensational and were first on the scene. In the process of tucking in some of them pushed the carcass into the ditch while others were looking on. They took turns scampering down to feast in secrecy.  It also seemed as if they were at the top of the pecking order as other scavengers such as Side-striped jackal (Canis adustus) and African Civet (Civettictis civetta) could only look on from the side. This took place for several consecutive nights and as dawn broke, all the animals would move off. Below are some of the photos.

Two bushpigs in front with the wildebeest carcass while others are looking on in the back.

Pushing the carcass while feeding.

A Side-striped jackal looking on.

An African Civet smelling where the carcass used to lie.

A bushpig at dawn after the evening feast.

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