On the rocks

Pamushana | June 2016

Once you’ve got your eye ‘in’ there is so much life to see on the rocks, especially at the lodge. This gives you ample time to study how their feet/hooves/paws are adapted for agility on these steep surfaces.

Rock hyraxes or dassies (Procavia capensis) bound around, often at high speed over sheer cliffs, thanks to the black rubbery pads on their feet. The pads are moistened by numerous sweat glands, and they lift up in the centre for a ‘suction cup’ effect. This gives them their excellent grip on rocky surfaces.

The common flat lizard (Platysaurus intermedius) has long toes and small sharp claws that it uses like grappling hooks to grip on to rock surfaces.

This brightly coloured fellow showed a savvy sense of real estate by perching on a rock at the entrance to the lodge, where he welcomed any females interested in a site inspection, but saw off any male intruders.

Male and female klipspringers (Oreotragus oreotragus) avoid the stress of sexual dynamics by forming lasting pair bonds with one another. This female was busy keeping watch for any danger while the male fed nearby.

Take a look at her hooves. She balances as if on ballet points. Klipspringers stand on the very tips of their almost circular hooves, each with the diameter of about 18 mm. The strong back legs can project the klipspringer up a smooth wall, and they can jump onto a projection as small as 27 mm.