155 Views as at 2010-05-01
WILD NATURE PHOTOGRAPHY & WRITING
Lens: 70-300mm F/4-5.6 D
Focal Length: 120mm
Digital Vari-Program: Sports:
Metering Mode: Multi-Pattern
1/800 sec – F/4.2
Exposure Comp.: 0 EV
‘THE KRUGER NATIONAL PARK’ South Africa.
The Chachmas vary considerably in colour across their range but are generally a grizzled grayish colour. The tails, about the same length as the head and body together, are usually carried with the proximal or upper third part upright and the balance downwards. The juncture between these two sections is sharply kinked. The sexes are best distinguished by the formation of the ischial callosities on their rears. The females have their callosities in two sections, separated by the vulva which becomes swollen and red when the animal is in oestrus, and the male’s callosities are in one section with the left and right hand parts joined below the anus. This is presented by the female to the male as a sexual advance and also as a social greeting.
These common, gregarious animals form troops of sometimes more than fifty individuals. The adult males may move between troops which maintain a range which they defend, usually rather peacefully, but savage fights do occur. The troops are ruled by dominant males; in small troops by a single individual and in larger troops by as many as twelve. Males sit idly at a vantage point ready to bark a warning of any danger; they also serve to protect the troop by keeping the youngsters from straying and by staying on the edges of a moving troop.
Their preferred habitat is in proximity to rocky hills and kranzes for resting at night. They also rest in tall trees. They do, however, range far and wide to forage. The voice is a bi-syllabic bark of the adult males, which is repeated intermittently. It is particularly stimulated when danger is threatened. They also grunt, and in excitement this rise to a sharp snore, ‘Wah-Wah’ accompanied by head-rocking and tail-waving indicates great pleasure.
They are preyed upon by the larger carnivores, but are well able to defend themselves using their long powerful canines, and are particularly dangerous in a pack. One young, very rarely twins, is produced at any time throughout the year.
FOOD: They are omnivorous, the main diet being vegetarian and in particular, grass. They eat a wide range of fruits, seeds and plant matter. Insects and other invertebrates are taken and they relish scorpions which are lifted carefully and the sting flicked off. They hunt and kill smaller species of antelope and the young of antelope, domestic poultry and the young of goats, as well as hares and reptiles. Regular access to water is essential. Older males are not above cannibalism of the young of their own troops.