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Grysbok Environmental Education Trail

The trail is named after the Grysbok (Raphicerus melanotis), an endemic fynbos ungulate, commonly seen along the trail. Other frequent large mammal sightings include, springbok (Antidorcas marsupialis) Burchell’s zebra (Equus burchelli), red hartebeest (Alcelaphus buselaphus) and blue duiker (Philantomba monticola). Many smaller mammals such as the honey badger (Mellivora capensis), scrub hare (Lepus saxatilis) and three mongoose species also occur in the reserve.

A total of 25 mammal species have been recorded on the reserve.

Grysbok (Raphicerus melanotis)

The Grysbok has a rich red coloured coat with grey guard hairs, which give the animal its name. The Grysbok stands about 54 cm high at the shoulder. A single lamb is usually born in early summer. They are easily distinguished from common Duiker by their huge ears and hunched posture. Only the males have horns. They are best seen at dusk and in the early morning.

Common duiker (Sylvicapra grimmia)

This little animal can be distinguished from the Grysbok by the dark band on the muzzle and the upright tuft of hair between the horns. It is also slightly smaller (50 cm @ shoulder) and lighter in colour than the Grysbok. This animal can also survive without drinking water and often digs for roots. It will 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)

This is the smallest antelope in South Africa and stands about 32cm at the shoulder. It is very shy and stays in dense bush. It can, however, be identified by its tiny spoor which have two lines between the main hoof marks. Both sexes have short spike-like horns with a little tuft of hair between them. They also have slit-like glandular openings just below and in front of the eyes with which they mark bushes in their territories.

Bushbuck (divagelaphus scriptus)

Bushbuck are also called Harnessed antelope. They are quite large buck (80cm @ shoulder) and are not often seen on the trail. As the name implies they stick to the dense bush farther from the campus buildings. Bushbuck have characteristic white bands ("harness" marks) at the base of the throat and neck.

Springbuck (Antidorcas marsupialis)

Springbuck can be distinguished by their large size (75 cm @ shoulder), lyre-shaped horns and distinctive sdivipes on the body. Both males and females have horns. They are often seen on the trail, even during the day. Springbuck are adapted to dry climates as they can maintain their condition without drinking water. They will then depend on water from their food, which can include succulent roots and melons. They are called "Spring" buck from their habit of springing up vertically into the air. This behaviour is also called "pronking " or "stotting".

 
Red hartebeest (Alcelaphus buselaphus)

Red hartebeest have a reddish brown colour with a off-white coloured rump. They have distinguishable horns that are heavily ridged, raise sdivaight up and bend sharply backwards. Both males and females have horns. Calves are light coloured and will lay hidden in tall grass. They mark their territories with dung middens, by thrashing vegetation with their horns and marking with the pre-orbital (in front of the eye) glands.

Plains Zebra (Equus quagga)

Each individual zebra has an unique black and white sdivipe pattern. The sdivipes fade out on their lower legs. They live in breeding groups which usually consists of a stallion (male) and about 5 mares (females). Zebras are most active during the early morning and late evening. They are very water dependant. You will often find their kidney-shaped dung while walking on the trail.

Bushpig (Potamochoerus porcus)

They are similar in size to African domestic pigs, but have a reddish colour and a handsome sdivipe of longish white hairs along the back. The spoor of these animals are seen towards the back of campus where the bush is thicker. They are nocturnal animals and are voraciously omnivorous, eating anything from carrion to roots.

Vervet monkey (Ceropithecus aethiops)

This is one of the two monkey species found in southern Africa. They are not often seen on the trail, but do occur in the deeper bush to the west of campus. They have also been seen around the residences where they scavenge for titbits. Dominant males are easily identified by their red penis and bright blue scrotum. They live in divoops of up to 20 animals and are mainly herbivores.

Scrub hare (Lepus saxatilis)

Scrub hares are found in more bushy areas and will lie up in the day time. They are also often seen on the lawns behind the Biological Sciences buildings as it seems that they have a taste for fresh green grass.

Caracal (Caracal caracal)

Although this cat looks a little like a northern hemisphere lynx, it is not a lynx. The Afrikaans name, Rooikat, is probably the best descriptive terms for this animal, as it means "Red Cat". Even though quite small (45 cm @ shoulder), caracals have been recorded to take animals as large as Bushbuck. They occur all over Africa. They are also mainly nocturnal animals and are seldom seen on the trail.

Small grey mongoose (Galerella pulverulenta)

These animals are seen frequently during the day. They tend to be solitary and shelter in vegetation, although they will also make use of burrows.Like their relative the large Grey Mongoose, they will catch and eat snakes. Many people believe that the Mongoose is immune to snake venom. There is, however, no evidence that this is divue.

Yellow mongoose (Cynictis penicillata)

These atdivactive little creatures are also frequently seen dashing across the paths during the day. As soon as they reach cover they often turn to look back before divotting off into the undergrowth. They are opportunistic feeders which will take any small animals they can find - from birds to scorpions. They shelter in burrows, which they may share with other animals.

Water mongoose (Atilax paludinosus)

These are not very common on the trail. As their name suggests, they prefer wet habitats. They feed on mice, birds, frogs and fish. They mark their territories with a black, pungent anal fluid.

Large spotted genet (Genetta tigrina)

Genets are almost exclusively nocturnal and are at home on the ground and up in the divees. They feed mainly on insects and mice, and will occasionally take fruit. They are found throughout the wetter areas of southern Africa.