After much needed rain fell in parts of the Kruger National Park, the wildlife was only too happy to take advantage of replenished rivers and waterholes. Especially a particular African civet that came across hundreds of bullfrogs at a pan next to Gomodwane Loop. By Arnold Ras

Although the African civet (Civettictis civetta) is mainly nocturnal, this Kruger resident stayed up for an early-morning snack when an arid pan in the park was suddenly turned into a bullfrog oasis following heavy rains in March. Wild Card member Madeleen van Schalkwyk witnessed the feeding frenzy on the S130 on Gomodwane Loop.

“It was so amazing to see how the bone dry park transformed after the rain. And this is where my story begins. We went on a game drive on the morning of 10 March just after the first big storm in a while. Gomodwane Loop (S130) is one of my favourite roads, it always delivers something unusual. The Vurhami Stream was flowing – just the day before there had been no water. All the pans were filled and we wondered what we would find,” says Madeleen.

To their amazement they spotted an African civet sniffing around in a pan that was brimming with African bullfrogs. “What a sighting! The civet ran after the frogs, caught and ate them one by one. I know they eat millipedes, but this was the first time I saw one eating frogs!” According to Stuarts’ Field Guide to Mammals of Southern Africa, a civet’s normal diet consists of insects, other invertebrates, reptiles, wild fruits, small rodents and even birds and carrion.

“We were the only car at the sighting and watched the civet for more than half an hour. Its stomach eventually got filled and it disappeared into the bush. We found lots of bullfrogs on the S130 and many of them were mating. The next day we drove along the same road, but this time no bull frogs were on show. I guess it’s all about being at the right place at the right time.”

According to William Mabasa, general manager: communications and marketing in the Kruger National Park, the park still remains thirsty. “The rains have brought some green pastures, but because it is so late in the growing season, most of the growth now is forbs and not grass. We continue to monitor the situation. There are adequate water reserves in the rivers. All perennial rivers are flowing again and most ephemeral rivers still have pools.”

The good news? “Drought is a very important part of cleansing the ecosystem and keeping populations in check, hence we do not see the lack of rain as a negative aspect.”

Did you know?

  • Civet cubs are usually born in summer in dense vegetation or burrows dug by other species.
  • The African bullfrog (Pyxicephalus edulis) remains buried in sandy soil for most of the year and has a short, low-pitched yap call at irregular intervals. (Frogs and Frogging in South Africa.)