Our nocturnal friends
by Neil Steedman and Claudine Swart – 14 October 2010
When we first started at Jaci’s, we would often wake up in the middle of the night with strange noises in our roof. We never really thought too much of them as one becomes accustomed to these kind noises in the bush, and in fact, when in the city, the lack of them can actually keep you awake at night.
It was only a few months into our stay that we finally figured out what they were. Bush babies.
Now for those who are unfamiliar with them, these creatures are Southern Africa’s smallest primates. They are usually between 10-15cm tall, with big, brown eyes, which are fixed in their sockets. They live in groups of up to 10, and just at dusk, they all go and forage for food independently. Food for them comes in the form of sap from trees (the sticky gum-like substance exuded on the trunks), which makes up about 40% of their diet, and the rest comprises insects, which they catch with their hands in mid-jump.
However, our Jaci’s bush babies have a sweet tooth for something else. Bananas! When Deon and Kym de Villiers, Jaci's Lodges' managing couple, used to live in what is now our house, they figured out that if they put bananas out, they would get to see these little creatures on a regular basis. This legacy followed through to when we moved in, and the bush babies have not let us forget it.
You see, when we had a little time off in the evening, we would hear someone knocking on the door, but for the life of us, certainly couldn’t see anybody there. Perhaps the place was haunted? It wasn’t until we sat and watched the door that we found our furry friends. They would actually jump up against the glass on the door, and then jump back onto our outside fridge! This, we realised, was their way of telling us they were hungry!
We got the hint, and so every evening that we are off, we remember to put out the bananas that these little creatures so love, and we get to watch them for hours on end!