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A Fuzzy Little Genet Is Hitching Rides on Rhinos and Buffalo, And No One Can Figure Out Why

Camera traps exposed the secret world of a rhino-riding genet

A genet riding a rhino. (Photo: WildlifeAct)
smithsonian.com

At South Africa's Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park, something odd has been happening. When the lights go out, a genet—a furry little carnivore related to civets and mongooses—takes to the backs of giant herbivores, Mongabay reports.

What business the genet could have riding atop a rhino or a buffalo has completely escaped the grasp of scientists who study them. 

This odd and seemingly nightly occurrence was discovered by the conservation group WildlifeAct. Camera traps set up in the park to monitor endangered black rhino inadvertently captured a solitary genet who had taken to hitching a ride on the back of a rhino or a buffalo, night after night. "It seems like this lonely genet has tried to make friends outside of his species," WildlifeAct writes. "It’s just he/she only seems to like really large herbivore type friends."

As Mongabay points out, this is pretty weird. "Cowbirds ride cattle to pick off their parasites; egrets pal around with wildebeest and eat the small creatures disturbed by their grazing. But mammals riding other mammals is something long-thought pretty much isolated to humans and their domestic creatures." But perhaps the purpose, as WildlifeAct suggests, is just to make friends. Oh, and "to get the best selfie possible." 

And on top of a buffalo. Photo: WildlifeAct
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