A guide working in the largest nature reserve in South Africa has shared unbelievable footage of a combat which is just as astonishing as it is extraordinary. The footage actually shows a duel between two insects: an arachnid and a millipede. A far cry from traditional fights between lions and gazelles!
Going on safari is often the perfect opportunity to observe rare wild animals in their natural habitat. Elephants, giraffes and lions are just some of the animals which tourists see up close in the deepest depths of the African Savannah.
But deep within the grasslands of hot regions, a completely different type of spectacle sometimes occurs… such as the astonishing scene recently caught on film by Guy Brunskill, a guide at Londolozi Private Game Reserve, a sanctuary situated in the largest natural park of South Africa: Kruger National Park, equal in size to Wales with a surface area of 20,000 square kilometres.
‘When you look around at your surroundings you can discover fascinating creatures everywhere, both small and large, and sometimes, you witness something so unusual that it is just as incredible as even the most amazing encounters with big cats’, explains Guy Brunskill on the Londolozi Blog.
What could be more extraordinary than witnessing a live duel between a spider and a millipede?
An arachnid of exceptional vivacity
At first, one could assume that this is nothing overly exciting when compared to, for example, the breathtaking chase of a cheetah in pursuit of a gazelle… but this would be a false assumption! In fact, despite its modest size, the spider demonstrates great speed.
Sometimes referred to by the nickname ‘Camel Spider’, this arthropod belonging to the Order of Arachnids is capable of moving with a spectacular rhythm, as demonstrated in the video taken by the South African guide which shows its real life speed.
Here we see the arachnid fight its prey with disconcerting agility and vivacity. The unfortunate millipede is not permitted even the slightest second of respite. Speed is evidently the strategy of choice for the camel spider. The arachnid uses the element of surprise, trapping its victim in a true ambush.
‘We were all really intrigued by this small and awesome arachnid, and by the way in which it knew how to adapt… in order to quickly defeat its victim’, recalls the guide.
After trapping its victim, the arachnid is able to use its advantageous large fangs, joined together to form a pincer, to quickly tear it to shreds.
An uneven fight
The millipede finds itself powerless in the face of a spider attack, as explains the naturalist and explorer Alberto Borges: ‘Millipedes have learned (by curling up in a ball) that in order to stay alive, they must coil up very quickly to keep their head far away from the fangs of the predator. But this isn’t enough to stop the solifuge, who is quick enough to wind its fangs around the millipede even before it has started to curl up in a ball.'
As cruel as it may seem, the hunting technique of the solifuge is of paramount importance for the arachnid, which must compete with many other creatures all equally as voracious as itself: scorpions, tarantulas and other giant centipedes.
‘It is consequently necessary that the solifuge is able to consume food very quickly in order to avoid having to abandon the meal to its competitors’, explains Alberto Borges.
Still relatively unknown to scientists, the solifuge promises to henceforth reveal some of its secrets, notably thanks to the video taken by Guy Brunskill, which is surely only the beginning of a long series. The video has indeed succeeded in drawing the attention of many to a wild species which whilst certainly small in size, yet which displays behaviour which is just as extraordinary as that of the larger animals of the Savannah.
‘(This experience) shows that there is much to see and many things to be fascinated by if we simply keep our eyes open,' concludes Guy Brunskill.