Aardvarks are elusive, uncommon, hard to spot. So when Ayesha Cantor, an aardvark enthusiast, came across one after years of searching she was ecstatic, to say the least. By Olivia Wickstrom

Wild Card member Ayesha Cantor is a frequent visitor of national parks. “We live on a game farm outside of Port Elizabeth, a half an hour drive from Addo Elephant National Park, so I go to Addo at least every two weeks. The elephant is always the highlight of any trip out,” Ayesha tells us. But elephants aren’t the only animals Addo has recently been showcasing. After hearing that an aardvark had been spotted in the park, Ayesha was astounded.

I could not believe my eyes and could hardly steady my shaking hands to snap some pictures.

– Ayesha Cantor

“I cannot remember how or why the aardvark became the number one animal on my bucket list, it’s been on it that long. We have visited a number of other game reserves, friend’s farms and even friends of friend’s farms, all supposedly good places to spot the elusive critter, but without success. So I was shocked when a fellow Addo regular posted that he saw one in Addo, right on my doorstep!”

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The Karoo and Eastern Cape have had numerous aardvark sightings throughout the winter. Private game reserves such as Shamwari have also reported sightings as of late.

Ayesha had read that a good time to spot aardvarks was in winter, the first warm day after a cold snap. So on a warm winter day after watching the weather closely, she drove to the Mbotyi Loop in southern Addo, the last place the aardvark was seen.

“I drove up and down a few times, and already that familiar sense of disappointment was coming over me. I stopped to watch a heron stalking its prey in the long grass to my right, and by chance happened to look to my left. I nearly swallowed my tongue! There it was, the aardvark, almost right next to me, bustling along from antheap to antheap, sniffing and digging,” says Ayesha.

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“What surprised me the most about the aardvark was its very thick and solid rodent-like tail. It was fascinating to see the animal use it almost like an extra leg, steadying itself on its hind legs and solid tail.”

“I could not believe my eyes and could hardly steady my shaking hands to snap some pictures. I did not want to take my eyes off it for a second. I spent about an hour watching it, so chilled, totally unfazed by the vehicles present, before it slowly made its way over the horizon. I managed to drag my husband out the second time, telling him he may never see one if he didn’t come with me, and there it was – on cue, on time, same place, same moves… an absolute delight to watch!”

Have you ever been fortunate enough to see an aardvark? Tell us where in the comments box below.

Did you know?

  • An aardvark’s colour is typically a colour similar to the soil that it lives on.
  • The species’s diet often consists of termites and ants.
  • The mammal tends to be active at night, and is not normally seen during the day.
  • In captivity, the aardvark can live up to 24 years.
  • Aardvarks can be disliked by farmers as their excavation holes impact dam walls and roads.
    (Source: Stuarts’ Field Guide to Mammals of Southern Africa)

Pictures taken using a Pentax K5 with a Pentax 300mm lens, and a Pentax K-m with a Sigma 500mm lens.

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