QJANNA FOUCHE from Rustenburg writes: I was recently in a private nature reserve called Sabie Park, where I saw this curious heap of dung. It was still fresh and had a fine texture. I looked around and could only find giraffe spoor nearby, but this isn’t giraffe dung is it?
AWildlife expert LD VAN ESSEN says: This is probably giraffe dung, which has been worked on by a dung beetle. Dung beetles are interesting creatures, often overlooked by the public. There are about 800 species out there, and not all of them are the kinds that roll dung balls around. Some dig tunnels underneath droppings to bury the dung, some lay their eggs in dung and some steal dung balls from their more industrious cousins. Some species only use herbivore dung, others prefer the dung of carnivores or omnivores, and some will change their preference when dung is scarce. Some even eat rotten plant material and mushrooms. Readers should refrain from driving over animal droppings for the sake of these lesser-known dung beetles, all of which perform an important ecological function.