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A pack of my favourite friends

A pack of my favourite friends

Slender Mongoose - South Luangwa
Slender Mongoose - South Luangwa
Norman Carr Safaris


BY : VICKY AUSTIN, Norman Carr Safaris    

There are nine species of mongoose in Zambia, all with their own special behaviours. Some are solitary; some prefer to live in packs, some want to be inland, some burrow along the water's edge.

My most beloved of the mongoose is the banded mongoose. Packs can be found burrowing near both Norman Carr Safaris’ lodges, Kapani and Chinzombo in the South Luangwa National Park. The pack runs around guest chalets and staff housing like they own the place and have been known to sniff the Kapani manager's shoes!

Without a doubt though, it’s their defense mechanisms and their hunting abilities which make banded mongoose so interesting to watch. Their alarm call is almost like a mothers’ meeting of chatting and twittering. The pack of 20-30 will huddle together and stand on their hind legs watching a nearby predator - a fascinating sight and sound.

If it’s a bird of prey, they will scatter quickly and look for somewhere to hide, knowing they are vulnerable to being picked up in some giant vice-like claws. Incongruously, to our human minds, they are fearless against snakes; they will gather around their prey as a pack and strike from all angles. Our guides have seen them take down anything from a cobra to a puff adder.

There's another type of mongoose I like - ‘Mulberry Mongoose’ - which is also found at Kapani. Set up in 2011, this is a small artisanal company making handcrafted accessories using local materials and semi-precious stones. Local ladies are employed to give back to the South Luangwa, through internationally recognised projects such as Snare Wire Jewellery, which has funded $30,000 worth of snare patrols in the Park in the past two years.