New research confirms that extreme droughts amid the deepening climate crisis are forcing nocturnal aardvarks in the Kalahari to feed and forage when the sun's up -- but even so, their ant and termite food sources are dying out as the vegetation they survive on is affected by the droughts.
Increased daytime sightings of the aardvark may offer wildlife watchers a rare glimpse of the secretive creature, but scientists are warning that this shift in behaviour is a red flag that not all is well for the nocturnal mammal.
Dr Nora Weyer, a former Wits University researcher, led a study into the adaptive drought responses of aardvark in the Tswalu reserve in the Kalahari between 2012 and 2015. Her research, which was the basis of her PhD, focused on 12 individuals fitted with biologgers and transmitters recording the animals' body temperature, rate of activity throughout a 24-hour period and their location.
Weyer used satellite imaging showing the effects of drought on the vegetation and matched these with her data on how the aardvarks' behaviour and body temperature were being affected by their environment during these periods.
The findings from that research have now been published in the journal Frontiers in...