Rock Hyrax

A rock hyrax peaks out from behind a tree, Twyfelfontein, Namibia.

When I was in Namibia earlier this year, I had a chance to see several rock hyrax up close. I came across them in the Damaraland region, living among the boulders in the dry desert landscape. Rock hyrax are small mammals resembling guinea pigs, distributed across Africa and the Middle East. However, their closest living relative is actually the elephant.

A rock hyrax sits on a granite boulder in the Damaraland region, Twyfelfontein, Namibia.

At first they seemed very skittish, but I found that if I just sat down and was still, they could get curious and would creep closer. I small face would appear around the side of a boulder and then quickly disappear, only to reemerge in a closer location.

A rock hyrax sits on a granite boulder in the Damaraland region, Twyfelfontein, Namibia.

Unique among the hyrax is a dorsal gland that is used for territorial markings. Here is can be seen as an area of matted down fur on its middle back.

Although they can live among groups of up to 80 individuals, I only saw a few during my stay. They were a cute and pleasant variety to the larger mammals I saw there.