During lockdown in South Africa, two of our field guides, Nicole Mathesie and Dean Oelofse, spent their time at The Outpost. While all was very quiet, slowly but surely a hidden parallel world revealed itself and they discovered just how many wild animals have chosen the lodge as their home – living next to the rooms, along the boardwalk and around the main buildings.
If you have visited The Outpost before, you have likely met the cute Yellow-Spotted Dassies, living all over the lodge, but you may not know about the rarer creatures we have on our doorstep. Read on for a little `behind the scenes´look, shared by Nicole and Dean, and maybe, with a bit of luck and patience, you’ll spot one of these non-human residents on your next visit too!
The Mocking Cliff Chat
MEET MISS AHAB
She is without any doubt our absolute favourite resident at The Outpost. A female Mocking Cliff Chat who has only one foot – hence the name we have given her – but she doesn’t seem to be bothered by this at all. In the mornings she makes sure everyone is awake by singing her beautiful, melodious call before she starts to follow people around. She is constantly keeping an eye on what’s happening, nothing goes unnoticed and, if we didn’t know better, one could think she is a disguised secret service agent. She patrols the whole lodge daily and there is a good chance that she will also come to your room for a quick (cliff-) ‘chat’.
The Jameson’s Red Rock Rabbit
James is a diva. He doesn’t show himself to everyone but that is just part of his nature. Jameson’s Red Rock Rabbits are a very rare species and we are happy that at least one of them has chosen the rocky slopes west of the boardwalk as home.
James – like all Rock Rabbits – is a nocturnal animal, and because the night is full of predator activity, he is extremely cautious and shy. You will hardly see him during the day but at night, when you walk to your room after dinner, it is always worth having a look around as you might be lucky and spot this rare specimen!
The Puff Adder
Puffy lives a very secluded life and although we know that he lives here, it’s not easy to spot him as, like most snakes, he avoids contact with humans. However, every now and then, especially after good rains when all snakes become a bit more active, there might be a chance to get a glimpse of this fascinating reptile with the incredibly beautiful eyes.
The Giant Plated Lizard
Lizy might look like a lazy gal when you see her sun basking on her favourite spot close to space Number 4. Don’t be fooled by this first impression though – in fact, she is a true badass lizard as she even has a home-sharing agreement with the resident Black Mamba. On late mornings – she isn’t an early bird like us – if you walk very quietly there is a good chance you’ll spot her sunning herself next to an overhanging rock which is her home.
The Southern Yellow-billed Hornbills
MEET BONNIE AND CLYDE
The resident pair of Yellow-billed Hornbills are a true gangster couple. They chase squirrels, bully other birds, feast on dead fruit bats and even raid the nests of smaller birds. By saying this, we also want to make clear that this is absolutely natural behaviour and although we jokingly call them the ‘gangster couple’ we shouldn’t judge them for just being ‘normal’ hornbills!
These two birds are not shy and there is a good chance you’ll meet them in the parking lot. If they are in the mood, they might greet you with an entertaining duet of their very own and unique ‘kok kok kok korkorkorkor’ call.
The White-bellied Sand Snake
Like all reptiles, this pretty and absolutely harmless snake always loves a good sun bath and is regularly seen on the boardwalk, between the swimming pool area and space Number 4.