Things that go Bump in the Night: Tanzania’s Nocturnal Wildlife

Written by Thomson Safaris

The sun-drenched plains of Tanzania are an ideal spot for wildlife viewing, but no matter how long you’re willing to wait, there are certain animals you’re unlikely to ever spot.

That’s because many of the animals that call Tanzania home are primarily nocturnal, spending the warm days resting, hidden in a shady nook or an underground burrow, and only emerging after dark to hunt and explore.

We didn’t want our guests to miss out on this prime-time for wildlife viewing, so we recently set up night vision camera traps near a few of the nyumba camps. Motion-activated, these cameras offer us a glimpse of the nocturnal wildlife visitors in the area (and might give travelers an idea of what that sound outside REALLY was).

In just the first few days, we spotted a:



Though it’s easy to spot hyenas during the day, they’re most active at night. If you listen closely after dark—or really at all—you’ll likely hear their eerie cries in the distance.



Crested Porcupine

During the daytime, crested porcupines keep cool in underground burrows or caves, but overnight, they head out to hunt for bones…(yes, you read that right).




It’s hard to see in this photo, but one of the civet’s most easily-recognizable characteristics is well-suited to a life of sneaking around at night: its “face mask” markings, similar to a racoon’s!




We only caught a (back-of-the-)head shot of this little guy, so you can’t see his extra-long tail, used to help the small, mongoose-like genets maintain balance when they jump from tree-limb to tree-limb!




This bushpig is probably out foraging for roots, carrion, or even small mammals. Though we didn’t catch any pictures of them, it’s a good bet that he has several friends nearby; the pigs usually travel in packs.



Honey Badger

These honey badgers don’t care that there’s a camera nearby; they’re too busy digging up snacks (besides honey, they also love insects, small reptiles, and birds). What’s really exciting for us is catching this notoriously grumpy grubber its offspring. The animals are mostly solitary, and don’t even share their burrows (maybe it’s because even THEY can’t stand their tempers!).

Honey badgers