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The Ultimate Disappearing Act: How Animals Camouflage Themselves In The Wild

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The Ultimate Disappearing Act: How Animals Camouflage Themselves In The Wild

Camouflage is the master key amongst animals in the bush in order to survive and live another day in the wild.

Many predators like leopards and lions use their body colour as a camouflage technique. This allows them to blend in and also making it easier for excellent hunting purposes. However  certain antelopes  like kudus and zebras use their body colours and patterns to blend in with the surrounding area and blending in as a herd or creating the image of a unit animal, to confuse predators.

There are all kinds of camouflage used by many animals. Impala use counter shading meaning they have a darker colour on their backs than on their flanks and the flanks are darker than the pale belly. If the sun shines direct onto the impala, it makes the impala darker on the belly and much paler on the back of the impala. The result is that a predator like a leopard that sees in hues of light and shadow rather than pure color vision, the impala will appear as two dimensional and does not stand out like other surrounding objects.

As I mentioned, kudu also use another coloration called disruptive coloration to blend them into their dappled environment. Disruptive markings are lines or marks that break the solid outline of an animal to camouflage them. The white lines on the kudu's face and the creamy stripes down its back also resemble the shafts of light penetrating a canopy of vegetation.

Many species of frogs are able to change their colour quite rapidly to suit their surrounding environment. They do this to avoid predators and fit in with their surroundings.

The animal that amazes me the most is the master of all animals that can stalk its prey within metres, and not be seen at all, is the Leopard. They have intricate patterning all over their bodies. The pattern is unique to each individual just like a humans fingerprints. The back and flank are golden colour and the belly almost pure white. In combination these disruptive markings and colours provide the leopard with the best camouflage. The patterns break up the shape of the body and allow the leopard to almost blend invisibly into almost any habitat.

It’s incredible how nature can camouflage itself for the ultimate survival and destruction.

Pieter Dannhauser - Elephant Plains Junior Ranger

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