Another ride for genet

2014-09-06 00:00

THE hitch-hiking genet is back.

Only this time the genet — which was pictured earlier this week joyriding on the back of a buffalo — has been photographed on top of a rhinoceros in Hluwhluwe-iMfolozi Park.

Although it is not certain that it is the same genet, Professor Simon Morgan of Wildlife ACT, said it doesn’t seem to be a coincidence. There is reason to believe it could be the same animal although this hasn’t been verified.

“The photos were taken at the same camera trap site,” he said.

The photographs of the genet on the back of a rhino were posted on Facebook yesterday by Wildlife ACT, which assists Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife by monitoring endangered and priority species in Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park.

The nature of the relationship between the small cat-like animal and its “host” is still a mystery to ecologists.

“Looking at the photos you can see that in some the genet is literally going along for a ride. In a few others, the genet is near the head and could be picking ticks of the animal’s ears,” Professor Morgan said.

He said the genet’s behaviour could be likened to that of cattle egrets that go for a ride and wait for the large animal to flush out insects.

“The genet could be using this vantage point to spot small prey items being flushed out by the buffalo or the rhino.”

Morgan said they are planning to put a remote video camera trap at the location to see if they can record this behaviour more accurately.

“We caught it again and again on camera at the same place. Even more surprising that it does this on more than one animal and more than one species.”

Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife’s Musa ­Mntambo said: “It’s possible it’s the same genet … It could be catching insects but the behaviour is rare.”

• khanyisani.dlomo@witness.co.za

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