Aardvarks occur across most of sub-Saharan Africa, but very few people have seen one, because they are solitary, mostly active at night, and live in burrows.
Aardvarks occur across most of sub-Saharan Africa, but very few people have seen one, because they are solitary, mostly active at night, and live in burrows. They use their spade-like claws to build these burrows and to dig up ants and termites on which they feed. However, seeing aardvarks feeding in the day is becoming more common in the drier parts of southern Africa. While catching sight of an aardvark is a delight for many a wildlife enthusiast, researchers from the Wildlife Conservation Physiology laboratory at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) warn that seeing aardvarks in the daytime does not bode well for this secretive animal.
New research by the team from Wits, with collaborators from the University of Cape Town and University of Pretoria, reveals what a shift from night-time to daytime activity means for the well-being of aardvarks in a warming and drying world. The researchers studied aardvarks living at Tswalu, a reserve in the Kalahari that lies at the edge of the aardvark’s distribution and provides support and infrastructure for researchers through the Tswalu Foundation. The results are published in the journal Frontiers in Physiology.
Using biologgers, the researchers recorded body temperature and activity of aardvarks for three years, during which Dr Nora Weyer followed the aardvarks as part of her PhD research.
Read more at University of the Witwatersrand
Image Credit: University of the Witwatersrand