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Aardwolf Peering from Burrow

Aardwolf Peers from Burrow, Mashatu Game Reserve, Botswana Caption: Aardwolf has a quick look around from the safety of its burrow before retreating underground, Mashatu Game Reserve, Tuli Block, Botswana. © Scotch Macaskill

Camera: Canon EOS 50D; Lens: Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM; Focal Length: 400mm; Aperture: f/5.6; Shutter Speed: 1/2000; ISO: 640

The aardwolf (Proteles cristatus) is the smallest of the hyena family, resembling a miniature striped hyena. It is nocturnal, so rarely seen during daylight hours.

We were fortunate to catch a brief glimpse of this one as it peered briefly from its burrow before disappearing underground once more.

While similar to other hyenas with its sloping back, rump lower than the shoulders, and a mane running along the spine, the aardwolf is a highly specialized carnivore, dining almost exclusively on harvester termites. On a good night, a foraging aardwolf can eat up to one kilogram of harvester termites - that's around 200,000!

The aardwolf's coat is coarse and shaggy, ranging in color from pale tawny to a yellowish-white, with several vertical black stripes running down its sides. While an adult can weigh between 6 - 11 kg, the pups are tiny, weighing less than 500 g at birth. Litters of one to four aardwolf pups are born after a gestation period of 60 days.

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