For the identification of insects and other fauna and flora of South Africa: please click on the following links:
Insects and related species: Antlions - Ants - Bees - Beetles - Bugs - Butterflies, Moths and Caterpillars - Centipedes and Millipedes - Cockroaches - Crickets - Dragonflies and Damselflies - Grasshoppers and Katydids - Mantis - Stick Insects - Ticks and Mites - Wasps - Woodlice
Plants, Trees, Flowers: (Note: Unless plants fall into a specific species such as Cacti, they have been classified by their flower colour to make them easier to find) Bonsai - Cacti, Succulents, Aloes, Euplorbia - Ferns and Cycads - Flowers - Fungi, Lichen and Moss - Grass - Trees
Animals, Birds, Reptiles etc.: Animals, Birds, Fish and Crabs - Frogs - Lizards - Scorpions - Snails and Slugs - Snakes - Spiders - Tortoise, Turtles and Terrapins - Whipscorpions
Other photography: Aeroplanes - Cars and Bikes - Travel - Sunrise - Water drops/falls - Sudwala and Sterkfontein Caves etc.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Flowering cactus

There is a minuture cactus in a pot in the garden and two days ago when I went out it had this huge flower on it. I thought that when I got home from work I would take some photographs of it, then changed my mind and decided to do it immediately.
Just as well because by the time I got home, the flower had died. I did not know that some of them only last for a day.

The plant itself is only about 2 inches in height and the flower must have been 7 or 8 inches. I was happy you have got some pictures of its beauty.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Hippo - Hippopotamus Amphibius

A close encounter of the hippo kind......

The Hippopotamus a massive, semi-aquatic mammal with a mass of up to 2, 5 tonnes. A massive animal, it measures 1500mm in height at the shoulder and has a length of 4310-5160 mm, of which about 560mm is tail. The eyes and nostrils protrude, allowing the animal to see and breathe while otherwise submerged in the water. A hippo's teeth are shown in yawning to warn potential competitors and are used for self defense from each other or enemies. The teeth are the hippo’s most valuable weapon and can bite a medium-sized crocodile in half.
The Hippopotamus is strictly a vegetarian. They require a large amount of energy and therefore need a food source that is in rich supply. Its diet consists mainly of terrestrial grasses and they may eat up to 68 Kg of grass a night.
Breeding occurs in water where large males are buoyant and their weight and size aren’t fatal to the cow. This could also be dangerous for the male as his hind legs aren’t strong enough to support him. The male becomes very aggressive during this act and will often lash out or attack other bulls that are close by (sometimes including the young male offspring of the concerned cow). Cows give birth to a single young in shallow waters, after a gestation period of 240 days. Calves are born in the water and can swim before walking. The calf is often hidden in reeds for a few days by the mother, after which she and her baby rejoins the herd. Females reach sexual maturity at the age of seven to eight years. A female can produce up to 10 young during her lifespan of approximately 35 years in the wild.
Hippos are usually found in large social groups called rafts, of which there is one male and many females and their young. Dominant males are very territorial, but will occasionally accept other males as long as they are submissive and show no interest in the females.

They sleep in or alongside the water during the day and at night forage for grass close to the water. They are strong and fast swimmers, and will attack when wounded or agitated. The fact that it is responsible for most human fatalities and injuries in the wilds renders it the most dangerous mammal in Africa.
It is a myth that the mother carries her calf. What happens is that in cold conditions a young hippo will rest the front part of the body onto that of an adult to sunbathe, due to their smaller body mass the young body will heat faster than adults.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Tour and Travelogue to KNP Game Reserve S Africa - Part 6

I thought I would add a bit on the accommodation and amenities in the park for those who are interested.

The park caters for all kinds of people and has accommodation to suit all pockets. Most of the camps are built on the bank of rivers and so you have a constant view of animals coming down to drink water. They have left the vegetation in place so most of the trees are very old.
There are various types of chalets, some have a kitchen and some not although each has their own bathroom and whether it has a kitchen or not, each has a refrigerator. All have linen and blankets on the beds plus towels. They vary in size from 2 - 4 beds. Larger ones cater for families with a separate kitchen, diningroom, lounge and 2-3 bedrooms. THERE ARE NO TV’s or RADIOS in any, with an extremely strict rule of no noise after 10pm. Those with kitchens are fully quipped with cutlery, plates, pans, pots, kettle etc.
Each chalet is airconditioned and also has its own barbeque area with chairs and tables outside. Cleaning staff come in every day to keep it immaculate.
Some of the camps have them decorated in true African colors and designs. All the windows and door have mosquito netting on them.
Each camp has a wonderful camping area where you can put up your own tent or camper. Each site has once again, it’s own barbeque facility.
In the camping areas, there are spotlessly clean communal bathrooms with toilets, showers, basins and baths.
The kitchens have hot and cold water, washing up basins and a small two plate stove in case you want to make something for yourself, with boiling water for your coffee always available.
There is a tented camp within the main camp too. Each has two beds in them with a bathroom at the back. Once again linen is included and a barbeque facility outside with chairs and tables.
A complete kitchen is situated on the balcony and is fully equipped. This might be a tent, but they are beautiful inside and VERY comfortable.
All camps include a shop with a restaurant where you can have a five course meal or a smaller shop for takeaways which include curry and rice, hamburgers, breakfasts and pizza. In the shop you can buy anything from toothpaste, cameras, food to make your own meals, books, clothing and gifts.

There are information centers next to the reception area where interesting facts and photographs are displayed on the various animals found in the park.
Most camps now have swimming pools. I usually go out early mornings and come back in by about 11am to avoid the midday heat, then I go and sit in the pool until about 4pm before going back out.
There are garages for fuel in every camp too and most of them have a cleaning facility for your car. If you car breaks down, there is a towing service available.
And so I come to the end of this series about the Kruger National Park. I hope that there has been something of interest to you in the articles and if you every head this way, it is very definitely a place you would want to visit more than any other attraction in South Africa.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Tour and travelogue to KNP Game Reserve S Africa - Part 5

I almost forgot to include the most important photographs (although the worst!!).

The previous evening I was walking along the fence and spotted two leopards across the river. It was almost pitch dark by then and because of that and the distance, I have had to lighten these pictures considerably. I only had my 300mm lens with me so I could not zoom in closer. Sorry!!

These are a mother and almost full grown cub (on the left of the mother). It had something which it was eating but as I did not have my binoculars with me, could not make out what it was. Looks like a small buck of some sort and you can see it at its feet in the first two pictures.
When it was finished eating it went to lay down on the rock.

As we were leaving the park, we came across this pride of lions which had killed a buffalo. Their stomachs were so full, they did not move a muscle and the vultures which were looking on, were equally gorged.

Vultures waiting for their share of the feast. What a lovely way to end a perfect four days!! I could have added more photographs, but then this travelogue would have been twice as long, but I am sure this gives you a feeling of what it is like to be in an African Game Reserve and the things you might see on a trip there.
The final chapter is on the kinds of accommodation to be found there.

Thanks for looking!!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Tour and travelogue to KNP Game Reserve S Africa - Part 4

Another spectacular dawn after a good nights sleep with just the sound of the Lion, Hyena and Zebra in the distance.
It is a bit cooler this morning and the Speckled Mousebird sits where he can absorb the early suns rays.
Today a Crocodile sleeps on the bank while a Heron fishes nearby.
Out of camp and a large herd of Elephant cross the road with this little baby in tow. It is about two years old and still suckling.
This old male finds it hard to put on the breaks after coming down the slope to join the others. When they get those dents in the top sides of their heads, you can know they are very old, about 60-70 years.
Continuing down the road, the White Rhino thinks he is invisible behind the tree and stares at us taking pictures of him.
About 300 Buffalo were in this group heading to who knows where and stopping to eat along the way. At one time, Buffalo were scarce as they were mostly killed off by bovine TB, but non-affected ones were brought in and in the space of about 8 years have made a remarkable recovery.
Baby Baboon sits on his mothers back next to her tail for support. If they are under 3 months old, they cling to her stomach wherever she goes.
This male ostrich is out looking for a mate. How do I know? When the front, bottom of their legs are red like this, it is an indication to the females that they are ready to breed. But the poor guy did not know what was going to happen to him!!
Just a few feet ahead, a pride of lions lay in the shade looking for lunch.
As the young cub (about 2 years old) spotted the ostrich, he gave chase but it ran off so quickly, the cub gave up after only a few yards. I guess the ostrich will be much more careful in future and not go walking around with his head in the clouds not noticing what danger lurks around the bushes. LOL!!
And who can resist taking a picture of a butterfly? Not me!! The only problem is I had a 300mm lens on which is definitely not made for macro photography.
After lunch, we decided to go to another museum but I will let these photographs speak for themselves. Please note that these are fetuses which were found in already dead animals. The park has a very strong policy not to interfere in anything and just to let nature take its course.
This Buffalo has the strangest horns and I wonder why they became deformed like this. It must still have allowed him to eat as it is not a young animal.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

The park - Part 2

All over in this park are small little waterfalls like this one. The sound of the water is very pleasant.
These cacti were huge and had even bigger thorns on them
All the ponds are fairly still so I was able to get some great reflection shots.
I don't know what these little daisies are called but they do make a pretty show.

Even though it was such a lovely day, I was surprised to find not many people walking around the park.
I think the gardens are very well kept. Aloes and cycads.
Mother duck was having a nap while she could........
...and the little ones were almost hidden amongst the plants resting too.....