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On safari in the Serengeti even the places where we stopped for lunch had amazing wildlife, some of them lazing around in the sun as if just waiting for the animal paparazzi to show up. These critters are Rock hyraxes (Procavia capensis), also known as Cape hyraxes and rock badgers. Incredibly, though they look a bit like huge hamsters, their closest living relatives – cousins many times removed – are elephants and sea cows. Just like their cousins, they have prominent (though obviously much smaller) tusk-like upper incisors, and the males’ testes are permanently enclosed inside their abdomens.

160406 hyrax (4)

Their bodies do not regulate heat very efficiently so, though they look rather fat and lazy, they are more active in the early morning and in the evening but need simply to bask during the hottest hours of the day. Hyraxes live in large social groups, using sentries to warn of danger when foraging for their favourite food plants, and communicating through a series of at least 21 different vocalisations which can, apparently, inform other hyraxes of their age, size, body weight, social status and hormonal condition. They can be found in most of the sub-Saharan countries in Africa, and are just plain cute!

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