serval video
serval video

Click above to see

rare night footage of a Serval

barry watson agriculture
barry watson agriculture

Barry Watson Agriculture ManagerThe results of a recent night game count here at Summerhill revealed what we expected, although maybe not in quite so much abundance.

The two most common species of antelope found on the estate are the Common Reedbuck and the Duiker.

The Common Reedbuck is an antelope who prefers open plains, that is they like space around them, often in the vicinity of water. Although they are usually found in groups of 3 to 6, we encountered groups of up to 12 animals in a herd. The Common Reedbuck tends to graze at night and can be heard by their distinctive whistle. If left alone they become very tame, as we experienced when a doe came right up to the van, had a good sniff followed by a whistle before wondering off. The Rams though tend to be solitary and have defined territories. We counted 42 Reedbuck in two paddocks at Bye-farm. The two paddocks in question, Bye 10 and 11, were our first two paddocks fully converted to biological management principles. Obviously the grass must taste better as I have never seen so many Reedbuck in one place at the same time. It truly was a sight to behold.

The other resident antelope found in abundance on Summerhill is the Duiker. These much smaller creatures do not venture out in large groups but we spotted them throughout the farm. This behaviouris true to natureas both male and female Duiker are territorial and only join up for the express purpose of breeding. Their territories do overlap however. Duiker have a tendency to breed all year round but to give birth in the summer months. This phenomenon was proven when we observed a large number of lambs scuttling into hiding when startled.

On the other end of the spectrum are the predators. We spotted two in this category;the Black-Backed Jackal, scourge of many South African farmers, and the Serval. We almost missed the Serval hiding in long grass, which to naked eye would have left him invisible. Fortunately we were using a red-light, normally used for night hunting, which lit him up like a candle. These predators fall into the same category as the Duiker in that they are reclusive, solitary creature. They are however incredibly beautiful to look at.

Another resident species spotted on the farm was the humble, but dangerous Porcupine. We found these fellows walking on roads and contours but the majority were found in the maize lands. These prickly “friends” cause more damage to maize then one might imagine. In a maize land they are in Porcupine utopia, pairing up in dugout burrows with an abundance of food and protective shelter from their few natural predators.

All this took place at night and as anyone who has been on a game drive will tell you, evenings in Africa are a nocturnal experience of sight and sound.