Aardwolves are cousins of the far larger spotted hyena. But they strike fear into no creature except a harvester termite. With their shaggy coats and comely little faces, they look quite adorable. But they can put on a very convincing show of ferocity. They are shy and nocturnal.
African wild cats
A tabby in the undergrowth? Can’t be... And yet that’s what it looks like. But this is the cat that first gave rise to our domestic kitties and can be distinguished from them in a few different ways, including the reddish ears and the altogether fiercer mien.
If you spot an elegant little dog family, all of them with outsized ears, you’ve probably chanced upon a playful family of bat-eared foxes on the hunt for tasty grubs and beetles. They love the nightlife, so they’re seldom seen. But perhaps on a chilly winter’s morning you’ll spot them.
This is a tiny, knee-high antelope that lurks quietly in the shrubbery and in forests, eating fallen flowers and wild fruit. The blue duiker is one of the luckiest sightings in South Africa. But if you don’t spot it in the wild, head for Knysna’s Featherbed Nature Reserve.
You may only hear its baby-like caterwauling in the depths of the night. But perhaps you’ll be lucky and see this fluffy creature with startlingly reflective eyes, hunting for tree gum and insects. Bushbabies (also called galagos) are even cuter than their upstart cousins, the monkeys.
An unmistakable predator with a short tail, tasselled ears and a handsome chestnut-red coat, the caracal (also known as a lynx or 'rooikat' – red cat) prowls at night. This large cat is far from endangered, but has such secretive habits you’d be really fortunate to see one.
The fastest mammal on the planet bar none is seldom seen. Its numbers have sunk perilously low but oh, if you see 1, you’ll never forget this spotted sphinx, especially if you see it hunt.
Porcupines are night animals, devoted to the art of digging up and eating tubers. They are seldom seen and best not approached. Especially if they start stamping their feet and rattling their quills in a war dance.
Sometimes called topis, these fastidious eaters of fresh grass are an unlikely second act to the cheetahs. They’re the fastest antelope in Africa, although you’d never think it just looking at one.
Don’t make the mistake of confusing wild dogs with feral dogs. These are completely different. With their tricolour coats and Mickey Mouse ears, these endangered dogs twitter and chirrup like birds. And when they get going, they can run and run and run.