The Rock Hyrax

2017-10-17 06:01
PHOTO: SuppliedRock Hyrax (Procavia capensis) better known as a Dassie.

PHOTO: SuppliedRock Hyrax (Procavia capensis) better known as a Dassie.

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THE Krantzkloof Nature Reserve is not generally known for mammal sightings as these are few and far between and mostly restricted to nocturnal species. One mammal you may be lucky to spot is the Rock Hyrax (Procavia capensis) better known as a Dassie.

Rock Hyrax are generally small, furry mammals with a robust body, no tail, short legs and small rounded ears. They have 4 toes on their front feet and three on the back. They have a rough brownish-grey coat with light patches above the eyes. There is a distinctive patch of long, black erectile hair, covering a glandular area, in the centre of the back.

There are four species (and a number of sub-species) of Hyrax and they are found throughout most of Africa, and the Middle East as far as Turkey. There are two species in Southern Africa and both species are found in Krantzkloof Nature Reserve viz. the Rock Hyrax and the Southern Tree Hyrax (Dendrohyrax arboreus). The Rock Hyrax are widespread throughout Southern Africa but the Tree Hyrax only occur on the Eastern seaboard as far as Southern Mozambique but interestingly not in the Zululand area. The Rock Hyrax are by far the more commonly seen species in Krantzkloof. It is quite difficult to tell them apart and both species climb trees! Rock Hyrax are generally diurnal and tend to congregate in largish family groups whilst Tree Hyrax are more nocturnal, are not often found in large groups and tend to make very loud terrifying-like screams at night!


INTERESTINGLY HYRAX SHARE CERTAIN GENETIC AND PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS WITH ELEPHANTS. IN COMMON WITH ELEPHANTS, HYRAX HAVE:

• no gall bladder

• no pleural space (the lungs are attached to the rib cage)

• glands under their feet

•undescended testes; they stay up near the kidneys

• two upper incisors which are hollow rooted “tusks”. These tusks are found only in the male Hyrax and they never stop growing, protruding from the lips and can be used to age a male Hyrax.

- The Kloof Conservancy

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