The Relationship between termites and aardvarks essays
One of the most specialized carnivores found on Boekenhoutkloof farm is the
aardwolf which dines most exclusively on harvester termites, namely Trinervitermes
This species is responsible for the fantastic “ant heaps” that are seen in the
bushveld and consist of four different classes. They are workers, soldiers, kings
queens and winged allates. The aardwolf targets mainly the workers because of
their size and easy access when foraging. Therefore it is interesting to note that
the aardwolf follows the same feeding patterns as the termite. The workers
work mainly in the evening and the aardwolf is a nocturnal species. The aardwolf
finds his or her quarry through smell .Once it finds the prey he laps up the
working termites. The aardwolf obviously consumes a lot of sandand other
objects. This is shown in their faeces which contain manyforeign and indigestible
Once the remaining workers have retreated to the mound, the soldiers viciously
attack the aardwolf and squirt specially developed noxious , terpene based
substances at the aardwolf. He then moves on to find more unsuspecting workers.
It is easy to see the exoskeletonsof the termites in the aardwolf’s faeces. This is a
good example of loss of energy through trophic levels.
The worker termites harvest and dry out Russet grass for food. It has been
estimated that a population removes about the same amount of grass as
domestic livestock. The termites population in Boekenhout ensures the survival of
the red data species of the aardwolf. Thus, these mammals are only present if the
termite population is wide enough.