Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The mongooses return....along with some other unexpected stuff

We had all told Dee she would be sure to have dwarf mongooses attend breakfast with us every day while she was visiting our camp in the Mara Conservancy. They are usually extremely predictable, and they clearly enjoy ]treats like scrambled eggs and toast just as much as we do. However, the entire time Dee was staying in that camp, the mongooses were apparently off foraging at the other end of their home range, so she never saw them. We all felt terrible about this, but we also all recognize that we simply need to accept whatever Mother Nature hands us out here; although Mother Nature put on a pretty good show for Dee during her Kenya visit, the dwarf mongooses weren’t part of it. Camille, who lives in the Conservancy camp year-round, reports that the mongooses showed up at the breakfast table again the very first morning after Dee & I had to drive away to return to Nairobi for Dee’s homeward bound flight. So here’s a glimpse of what Dee missed mongoose-wise. On the other hand, 3 days after Dee left, a hippo died in the forest 50 meters from camp, and the lions and North hyenas have been warring over the carcass day and night ever since. Not only does this mean it’s very scary living in that camp right now due to the constant presence of so many large carnivores, but this also means the whole camp smells absolutely unbelievably terrible, as the hippo carcass is situated directly up wind of camp. As long-time blog readers will recall, however, spotted hyenas can make a hippo carcass vanish very quickly, so it ought to be completely gone in only a couple more days. Hopefully Camille will post a blog entry soon about adventures associated with the dead hippo in camp.


dee said...

I 'm glad to see actual photos of the little darnin's because I had just about decided you and Camille made them up. Please keep snacking them so they'll be around for my visit next year. It's OK that I missed eau de hippo. I look forward to Camille's next report about all the excitement.

Lynda said...

I was very startled by your excellent mongoose photos.
I hadn't realised that east African dwarfs differ so much from those living in South Africa.
I study a population of dwarfs down here, and their coats are a uniform dark chocolate brown (almost black). They're also about 20% smaller than your guys(so much for animals getting bigger with latitude). I wonder if their dark fur is to maximise heat absorption?
Do you know if spotted hyenas differ much between east and southern African populations?

Kay Holekamp said...

Yes, at first glance, the spotted hyenas in southern Africa generally appear much larger than their east African counterparts. However, the recent MSU dissertation by T.L. McElhinny on hyena skull size & shape across the continent reveals that Bergman's rule really doesn't hold with spotted hyenas either. Hopefully that dissertation will be out soon as papers, but if not, i can send you a copy.

Michigan State University | College of Natural Science