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Four must-see mammals on your safari

The Big 5 (lion, elephant, leopard, rhino and buffalo) are the sought-after mammals to spot on a safari – and with good reason. However, there are 145 other species of mammals in the Kruger National Park. Make sure you add these to your game-viewing bucket list.

Black-backed jackal

As the name suggests, the jackal is distinguishable by a thick black stripe that runs down its back. You are most likely to find them from the Lower Sabie, Satara and further towards Letaba.They weigh between six to 13 kilograms, stand 38 – 48 centimetres and have a body length of 68 – 81 centimetres.

Black-backed jackals are feisty scavengers and predators. Interestingly, they are more prone to hunting small antelope, impala and kudu than stealing kills from lions and leopards.  

Caracal

A caracal is a medium-sized, powerful wild cat. It can be identified by its large paws, short tail and distinctive sharply pointed ears which have tufts of hair on the tips.

They are found throughout Africa, and their average lifespan for a caracal is 12 years in the wild; however, this depends on geographic region. Caracals are predominantly solitary and territorial animals but sometimes form pairs for mating.

Caracals weigh between eight to 18 kilograms and can reach a height of 50 centimetres at the shoulder. Interestingly, it can leap as high as four metres and can catch birds in midair.

The wild cat is carnivorous and commonly prey on rodents, hares, dassiesand small antelope. Occasionally, they will also eat small reptiles, scorpions and birds including doves and guinea fowl. 

Hippopotamus

A hippopotamus is a herbivorous, semi-aquatic mammal; the name originates from the ancient Greek for ‘river horse’. They can be found in seven of the Kruger National Park’s perennial rivers. You’ll also see hippos in dams and waterholes after heavy rains have occurred. The highest population of hippos is found at Olifants River, which is situated in the middle of the park. 

Male hippos weigh approximately 1500 kilograms with their female counterparts tipping the scale at 1300 kilograms.

Interestingly, hippos’ skin is prone to drying out as well as getting sunburnt. So, they secrete an oily fluid that functions as a skin moisturizer, antibiotic and is also water repellent.

Bat-eared fox

The bat-eared fox gets its name from the unusually large ears, which are used for thermoregulation, meaning they help maintain a stable, core internal body temperature for the fox.

These mischievous-looking mammals play a significant role in termite control; one fox can eat up to 1.15 million termites per year. Their diet also consists of dung beetles, small rodents, lizards and plant matter.

They are primarily nocturnal (active during the night), but you’ll find them emerging from their underground dens at dusk.

If you want to have the best chance to see these animals on a luxurious private game drive, choose Pondoro Game Lodge for your accommodation. It’s located in the pristine Balule Nature Reserve and is renowned for being one of the most opulent game lodges in South Africa.

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