The name Aardvark translates to “earth pig” in Afrikaans, referring to the piglike face and nose, and burrowing habit of the animal. Aardvarks have tall rabbit-like ears and long tails.
LATIN NAME: Orycterpous afer
STATUS: Least Concern (LC)
MATURE POPULATION: While you can find the aardvark at nearly 70% of African regions, their current population trends are not known.
HEIGHT: 3.44 – 4.27 feet
WEIGHT: 40 – 65 kg
LIFESPAN: 18 – 23 years
CURRENT GEOGRAPHICAL RANGE:
Aardvarks are common across most of Africa, south of the Sahara, being only absent from deserts. Distributions of Aardvark are determined by the occurrence of food sources including Ants and Termites. The current population trend is unknown. In southern Africa there is little reason to believe populations are changing significantly from habitat loss, although in other reasons such as central, eastern and western Africa, Aardvarks may be experiencing population declines due to human expansion and habitat loss.
Aardvarks occupy a wide range of habitats including savanna, grasslands, rainforests, woodlands and thickets. They avoid very arid environments and rocky terrain. Their diet comprises mostly Ants and Termites extracted from underground, although they have been known to eat other insects. Most if not all their required water comes from their foods, only drinking water occasionally. Aardvarks are solitary animals which dig burrows to rest in during the day and to use as an escape from predators.
Aardvarks are considered keystone species, meaning they play a critical role in shaping their habitats and altering ecosystems. This is due to them functioning as ecosystem engineers by burrowing. These burrows are then used by other mammals, and the turning over of soil during digging helps to aerate the soil, leading to improved plant germination.
The diet of Aardvarks consists mainly of Ant and Termite species. Without Aardvarks, the population densities of Ants and Termites would increase, depleting vegetation. This would have larger consequences on the food chain, specifically impacting herbivore species which feed on this vegetation.
No significant potential threats have been quantified, although the bushmeat trade may pose a threat to some populations in particular countries. Indigenous communities such as the Ituri Forest in the Democratic Republic of Congo hunt Aardvark by smoking them out of their burrows. Their meat is of high value, with other parts of the body used to make jewellery or for medicinal purposes.
Although Saving The Survivors (STS) is best known for the emergency work carried out on Rhinos, due to the countless poaching incidents, we also assist any animal in need we are called upon to help. STS have assisted in the raising and rehabilitation of Aardvark, aiming to increase population densities.