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Grysbok Environmental Education Trail

The trail is named after the Grysbok, an endemic fynbos ungulate commonly seen along the trail. Other frequent large mammal sightings include springbokplains zebra, red hartebeest and blue duiker. Many smaller mammals such as the honey badger (Mellivora capensis), scrub hare and three mongoose species also occur in the reserve. A total of 25 mammal species have been recorded on the reserve. 

Listed below are some of the mammals that can be found along the trail:

Grysbok (Raphicerus melanotis)
  • Rich red coat with grey guard hairs - hence the name Grysbok
  • Height of 54 cm at the shoulder
  • Single lamb usually born in spring
  • Huge ears and hunched posture
  • Only the males have horns
  • Mostly seen at dusk and in the early morning
Common duiker (Sylvicapra grimmia)
  • Named after Afrikaans word "duiker" - duck away into bush when threatened
  • Dark band on the muzzle and upright tuft of hair between horns
  • Height of 50 cm at the shoulder
  • Can survive without drinking water
  • Often dig for roots
  • One of the few antelope known to feed on insects and carrion
  • Hide in dense bush during the day and will come bounding out at the last moment if disturbed - this behaviour has given us all quite a fright on the odd occasion
Blue duiker (Philantomba monticola)
  • Smallest antelope in South Africa
  • Height of 30 cm at the shoulder
  • Very shy and stays in dense bush
  • Identified by its tiny spoor which have two lines between the main hoof marks
  • Males and females have short spike-like horns with a little tuft of hair between them
  • Slit-like glandular openings just below and in front of their eyes - mark bushes and territories
Bushbuck (Divagelaphus scriptus)
  • Also called Harnessed antelope
  • Characteristic white bands ("harness" marks) at base of throat and neck
  • Height of 80 cm at shoulder
  • Stick to dense bush - hence the name Bushbuck
  • Not often seen on trail as they avoid campus buildings
Springbuck (Antidorcas marsupialis)
  • Named "Spring" buck - jump (or spring) up vertically 
  • Springing into the air is called "pronking" or "stotting"
  • Lyre-shaped horns and distinctive side stripes on the body
  • Height of 75 cm at shoulder
  • Males and females have horns
  • Often seen on the trail - during the day as well 
  • Don't need to drink water - will get water from their food (succulent roots and melons)
 

Red hartebeest (Alcelaphus buselaphus)

  • Dutch "hert" (deer) and "beest" (beast) - Hartebeest used by early Boers because these animals looked like a deer
  • Reddish brown colour with off-white rump
  • "Heart-shaped" curved horns, heavily ridged
  • Males and females have horns
  • Young will lay hidden in tall grass
  • Mark territories with dung middens, thrashing vegetation with horns and marking with pre orbital (front of eye) glands

Plains zebra (Equus quagga)

  • Each zebra has an unique black and white stripe pattern - like a fingerprint
  • Stripes fade out on their lower legs
  • Live in breeding groups - a stallion (male) and about 5 mares (females)
  • Most active during early mornings and late evenings
  • Very dependant on water
  • Lots of their kidney-shaped dung on the trail
Bushpig (Potamochoerus porcus)
  • Reddish colour with a stripe of long white hair along the back
  • Height of 90 cm at shoulder - similar size to African domestic pigs
  • Have barely visible upper tusks and razor sharp lower tusks that grow up to 7 cm long
  • Spoor often seen at back of campus where the bush is thicker
  • Nocturnal animals (active at night)
  • Voraciously (eat a lot) omnivorous (eat anything from carrion to roots)
Vervet monkey (Ceropithecus aethiops)
  • One of two monkey species found in southern Africa
  • Silver-grey body with marked black face
  • Not often seen on trail - scavenge for titbits on campus and around residences
  • Adult males have vividly coloured genitals - red penis and bright blue scrotum
  • Highly social and live in well organised troops of approximately 20 individuals
Scrub hare (Lepus saxatilis)
  • Grey and white in colour, with long grey ears
  • Found in more bushy areas - preferred habitat is scrub
  • Often seen on the lawns behind the Biological Science buildings
  • Mainly feed on fresh green grass
Caracal (Caracal caracal)
  • Afrikaans name 'Rooikat' is the best descriptive term - means 'Red cat'
  • Looks like a northern hemisphere lynx - NOT a lynx
  • Height of 45 cm at shoulder
  • Usually prey on smaller items - have been recorded to take animals as large as Bushbuck
  • Can launch 4-5 m into the air from a seated position - enables them to pluck birds from the air
  • Occur all over Africa
  • Mainly nocturnal - seldom seen on trail

 

Small grey mongoose (Galerella pulverulenta)
  • Body length of 69 cm, and tail length of 34 cm
  • Solitary and shelter in vegetation - will also make use of burrows
  • They will catch and eat snakes
  • Many people believe the Mongoose is immune to snake venom - there is no evidence that this is true
  • Frequently seen during the day
Yellow mongoose (Cynictis penicillata)
  • Body length of 60 cm, and tail length of 25 cm with distinctive white tip
  • Often seen dashing across paths during the day - will turn and look back when they reach cover 
  • Opportunistic feeders and will prey on any small animal they find - from birds to scorpions
  • Shelter in burrows which they may share with other animals
Water mongoose (Atilax paludinosus)
  • Overall length of 100 cm, with a tail length of 41 cm
  • Prefer wet habitats - not very common on the trail
  • Feed on mice, birds, frogs and fish
  • Very territorial - mark their territories with black, pungent anal fluid
Large spotted genet (Genetta tigrina)
  • Height of 21 cm at shoulder
  • Black and white/grey ringed tail of 40 cm
  • Almost exclusively nocturnal
  • At home on the ground and up in the trees
  • Feed mainly on insects and mice, will occasionally take fruit
  • Found throughout the wetter areas of Southern Africa