A dead aardvark found in East London suburbia!

The museum was alerted to a dead aardvark earlier this morning lying on the side of a busy road in Southernwood, East London. The carcass looked fresh with only the tip of the tongue cut off. Museum scientist Kevin Cole and taxidermist Chris Bill rushed to the site to collect the specimen only to be told that a taxi driver had picked it up before their arrival.

Photo: Tinus Laubscher

These mammals have left evidence of their presence in the coastal dune forests of nearby Bonza Bay and the area to the east of the Qinira River. Kevin Cole has documented old burrows in the dunes. It is a mystery how the aardvark pictured landed up in Southernwood (see illustration below).

The aardvark is unlike any other mammal in Africa. Presenting with a pig-like snout, long tubular ears and a kangaroo like tail it is supported by stout powerful legs which have spade-like nails at the end. They occur in a variety of habitats with the availability of food being the only limiting factor. Most of the feeding activity on ants and termites takes place at night. They may occasionally also use their long sticky tongues to probe for insects , their larvae and eggs. They may travel a distance of up to 8 km’s searching for food.

It is unlikely this animal migrated through the green corridor from the coastal dune bush and unfortunately it could not be investigated to determine whether it had been snared. If it had moved up from the coastal dune bush a closer examination may have revealed if it was hit by a vehicle.

Adult body weight varies between 41-65 kg’s with a body profile which is arched. The coastal dune bush of the Nahoon Point Nature Reserve will be investigated for any recent aardvark activity.

Tinus Laubscher of Beacon Bay is thanked for alerting us to this record.

About East London Museum Science

Conservation Biologist East London Museum South Africa
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