Rock Hyrax

Dassie

Procavia capensis

This 4kg diurnal mammal has decided to build its home in the rock.  Found almost through-out the country, though mostly in the drier western regions.

Many a South African hunter has cut his teeth on Dassie as young boy.  Stalking Dassie can be great fun, since it requires getting past the “brandwag” (guard), that shouts out loud on approaching danger.

Problems

They move down from the hills during daytime (and full moon) and compete with live stock for grazing.  Cash crops are raided when within striking distance of the dens.

They are mostly taken by black eagles, leopard and caracal.  Farmers who remove these, will risk a dassie plague.

Hunting

The dassie will always occupy a special place in my hunting memories.  When I was finally promoted from air gun to .22 LR, my first big game was a fat “guard” that was basking in the sun on a rock in Namaqualand.  Even today they sharp cries and scattering brown figures is a challenge to any hunter.

Long distance sharp shooters would sometimes take them will ultra fast equipment at prairie dog distances, but that s not my idea of hunting dassie.  A 35 gr. projectile with muzzle velocity of 2800 ft/s is adequate for walk & stalk.  Look out for the white streaks of their urine markings on high cliffs.  Glass the koppie ahead before moving closer.

Patience pays on a dassie hunt.

Caution:  make double sure of shot placement.  These are tough little animals, and they are usually close to the den.  Wounded dassies are impossible to pursue, leaving them to die in agony.

Did you know?

The dassie looks like a rodent, but its evolutionary relationship lies with the elephant and dugong.  It is a very old animal.
The gestation period of the dassie is 230 days.  (Compare that with the much bigger impala on 196 days!)
Dassies can allow their body temperature to drop by as much as 3°C to conserve energy.  They also take a lot of energy from the sun.
Much like people, males frequently fight to death over females.
Rock- and yellow spot dassies would share the same den, and have they offspring in the same mixed species nursery.