Nocturnal Animals Of The Kruger National Park

Creatures Of Night & Nocturnal Life

The Kruger National Park has many nocturnal animals that come out to play when the sun sets and goes down. I love nocturnal animals, the reason being is that they are not often seen and can be extremely tough to find. I am not just talking about big animals like Leopards for example; Bushbabies, Nightjars, Bats and Insects come to mind. There are so many species of nocturnal animals that can be found in the Kruger National Park, the list is endless.

The Kruger National Park really comes alive at night, some of the characteristic noises are Hyaena’s “whooping”, Scops Owls and Nightjars calling, and the noise of the many different bat species flying above. Insects and frogs finish off the chorus, and every now and then you might hear a Lion. There are some very special animals that make appearances during the darker hours of the bushveld nights.

Nocturnal Animal Species Of The Kruger National Park

There is nothing like a night in the Kruger National Park, it is hard to explain to someone who has never heard the noises that fill the cool evenings in the Kruger. We have had many memorable experiences at night whether it has been at the hide in Punda Maria, a night drive at Olifants Camp or braaing at Berg-en-dal.

Different parts of the Kruger have different animal species that can be seen at night, and without a doubt the best way to see these animals is on the drives that many of the rest camps and private lodges offer. Most camps have sunset drives that finish off at around 7.30pm (You get too see the early risers of the nocturnal World on these drives), and then night drives, which leave well into the darkness.

During the early hours of the morning, when the camp gates open, is also a great time to see some of the nocturnal animals that are still awake. At the time of writing this, a month a go, we witnessed a Serval sitting right next to the S110 tar road close to Berg-en-dal. Although Serval are known to be crepuscular (Active at dusk and dawn), they also hunt when darkness falls. I was also fortunate enough to spot one of these beautiful cats on an early morning walk in Satara, just before the sun had come up fully.

When it is still dark and you are on the road leaving camp early, keep a keen eye out for bird species like Owls, Coursers and Nightjars close to the road.

As darkness falls, snakes often come onto the road as well, so you have a great chance of seeing a variety of these reptile species before you end your day in the Kruger National Park.

The Nocturnal Animals We Have Seen In The Kruger National Park

Wow. Where do I start? I have been so fortunate to see all sorts of nocturnal animals in the Kruger. Some truly memorable sightings, way too many to mention.

Besides the Servals mentioned above, I have been fortunate to see African Wild Cat on more than one occasion (They are resident at Satara and can be seen at night in Olifants), both species of Genet (Large-spotted and Small-spotted) and African Civet, on two occasions. Once on the S114 in the middle of the day, and another sighting on an Olifants night drive – on the same drive I saw my first ever Porcupine. I managed to get some great VHS footage of them, I won’t forget, but unfortunately that has been lost for good.

I have been lucky enough to see a lot of Black-backed Jackals (Their numbers seem to have dwindled though) and Side-striped Jackals, which I absolutely love. I had my first sighting of a Honey Badger close to Satara in 2018, and have seen other species such as Striped Polecat, Springhare, Bushpig, Grey Climbing Mouse and Bushveld Gerbil.

Many of the usual suspects have come across my path as well; Scrub Hare, Common Duiker, Lesser Bushbaby, Thick-tailed Bushbaby, Nightjars and a huge variety of bat species. Then the most likely to be seen larger predators: Leopard, Lion and Spotted Hyaena.

The Nocturnal Animals We Want To See In The Kruger National Park

My favourite animal is the Caracal, a shy and beautiful tawny coloured small cat with Lynx-like ears. I saw one with a freshly caught Scrub Hare in the Addo Elephant National Park in the mid 2000’s, but to this day, I have never seen one in the Kruger. This animal is the most prized sighting I could ever dream about seeing, and hopefully photographing… Maybe one day…

I have also always had a bit of an obsession with the large White-tailed Mongoose. These animals are strictly nocturnal, and hardly ever move around during the daylight hours. They are more common than what one thinks. They can be found throughout the Kruger, and the numerous drives and walks I have been on have never yielded this uncommon mammal.

I would love to have a good sighting of a Temminck’s Courser as well. I have seen a few, but on night drives the vehicles are so focused on larger animals you often do not get to view the smaller things.

All nocturnal animals are a prized sighting for me though, from Civet to Porcupine, Fruit Bat to Scrub Hare, Chameleon to Black Mamba…

My Nocturnal Animal Dream In The Kruger

I fantasize about getting some sort of license that lets you drive around at night, photographing all of the nocturnal animals, birds and reptiles. I have a keen interest in photographing Nightjars and Coursers in particular, obviously anything else as well.

Imagine… Driving quietly through the night listening to all the sounds of the bush with your car lights and spotlight, knowing that you could come fact to face with any of the Kruger’s animals, at any stage. What an experience that would be!

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