Many small animals die during the seasonal bush fires and it is not always to truly know the full extent of the loss of life. Some animals however do escape the fires and it is our pleasure and privilege to try and help as many as we can by scouting fire ravaged areas if and when we are allowed by landowners.
It is important to now just search for animals in the area where the bush has been destroyed because the animals you will find here are normally dead. Survivors are normally found in the periphery around the burnt areas.
Such was the case when one of our team found a fully grown Lesser Bushbaby in a dead tree trunk. The little guy was very traumatised and in obvious pain and had no intention of coming out for us to help him. Not wanting to add to his suffering the piece of dead tree was cut with a chainsaw after plugging in which the bush baby was holding out. The last thing we wanted was for the little guy to escape leaving us unable to catch him.
The entire piece of wood was moved to the rehab centre and there behind close doors the bush baby was given some fluids and pain mediation by using a syringe. We waited patiently for him to come out under cover of darkness to find his way out of the rehab centre. We are happy to report that it made a full recovery and was returned to the wild.
The Bushbabies or Galagos of Africa are of the smallest tree-dwelling primates on the continent and, although fairly common, are not easily seen due to their nocturnal behaviour. They are more often heard than seen, with their baby-like cries piercing the night and capable of leaps of remarkable distance between trees. At times they may venture on the ground, when they walk either on their hind legs or on all fours.
Its fingernails are rounded like our own, with the exception of the second toe which is modified as a toilet claw. This pointed claw is used to groom the head and neck fur and to clean the ears. The fingers and toes have flat disks of thickened skin which aid in grasping tree limbs and slippery surfaces. The index finger of each hand is degenerate (much shorter than the other fingers of the hand) in order to facilitate a better grip around larger branches.
The coat of this species is brownish grey to light brown. However, the sides and the limbs always have a tendency towards a distinctly yellow colouration. There are markings between the eyes as well as a dark ring around each eye. They eat insects and the gum of trees and will lick dew and rain water from cracks and crevices.
Apart from adult males avoiding confrontation with each other by maintaining individual territories, their social system is similar to that of the Thick-tailed Bushbaby.
Adults are solitary foragers, but companions do meet at night to interact, and congregate before going to sleep during the day in groups of up to six. This species has at least 18 different calls, that can be correlated with definite modes of behaviour. These belong to 3 functional groups, those being social contact, aggressive, defensive, and annunciatory behaviours. Their great reliance upon vocal communication is part of their survival strategy upon recognition of an enemy.
A Bushbaby’s eyes cannot move in their sockets, and so the head is continually active when searching for prey. They have highly developed hearing, and their ears have a complex series of folds, which enables them to position the source of a sound very accurately. Hearing is acute enough to hear the gliding of an owl. Their movements are extremely quick, and they can catch grasshoppers and moths in the air with their front feet, while holding onto a tree with their hind legs. Also nocturnal, the Lesser Bushbaby is very particular about its appearance, grooming conscientiously before embarking on a night’s foraging expedition.