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South African Wildlife: What Happens to a Zebra Carcass?

Jone Haesslich
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This week ranger Jone found a zebra carcass. She investigated the cause of death and from her findings surmised that the animal had died from injuries sustained in a fight with another zebra. She found numerous hoof and bite marks on the carcass.

Ranger Jone decided to set up a camera trap to find out which animals would feed on the dead zebra. This is what she found:

It took a variety of animals and birds just three days to completely devour the carcass - bones and all. The scavengers included crows, bushpigs, black-backed jackals, baboons and an aardvark.

Scavengers are a very important part of a wildlife ecosystem as they clean up rotten meat. This reduces disease in the area which could otherwise negatively affect other animals.

South African Wildlife Carcass Devoured in Three Days

The below two images show the carcass on the first and third day.

zebra carcass at kariega august 2015

zebra carcass after 3 days at kariega august 2015

The most common scavengers were bushpigs (below). These are rarely seen nocturnal animals and they look very similar to a domestic pig except that they are mostly brown. Bushpigs are omnivores and eat roots and carrion.

pushpig at zebra carcass

Some black-backed jackal were also seen. Their name describes the black saddle of long hair on their back. They are the smallest of the three species of jackal found in Africa. Find out more about these predators at Kariega Game Reserve

black backed jackal at zebra carcass

The most exciting sighting of all was an aardvark! These animals are rarely seen so it was a great surprise when one was caught one on the camera trap (well you can see half of it!).

aardvark at zebra carcass

Were you fortunate enough to spot any of these creatures on any Kariega Game Reserve safari drives? We would love to see your pictures. Please share them with us by posting them onto our Facebook page.