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.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Hippo's

Because of the sensitivity of their skin, herds only come out of the water to feed at night, when it is overcast or for short periods during the day.

Males have been known to kill the young, and for this reason, females will herd the little the little ones into the water in order to protect them whenever males come near.
Hippo's canine teeth are considered finer ivory than elephant tusks and they have been widely hunted for this reason.
Their name is derived from the Greek word meaning "river horse".
They are classified as belonging to the same family as pigs.
A single calf is born at a time, weighing approximately thirty kilograms, and are capable of swimming a few moments after birth.
The average time that they can remain submerged is between five and six minutes.
If they are out of the water and in the sun for a long period of time, their skin cracks and glands at the surface of the skin exudes a liquid which looks like blood.
Hippopotamus have the thickest skin of all land mammals - five centimetres - which constitutes a large percentage of their total body weight.
Certain fish will eat hippo dung. In some African countries, the people will use this to bait their fish traps.
Mating takes place only in the water, with the coupling lasting anything up to half an hour.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Rhombic Egg-eater

We have a lot of pipes laying in our yard at work and early one morning they came running to tell me they had found a snake in one of them. This one was about 18-20 inches long. It is a Rhombic Egg-eater (Dasypeltis scabra). Although they have vivid markings and confused with venomous snakes, these are harmless and feed exclusively on birds eggs. They have a very flexible jaw which can stretch over the egg and then passes through the throat into the neck region. There is is crushed by a series on bony protrusions so that it collapses and the contents swallowed. The shell is then regurgitated as a neat package. When threatened, it curls itself up into a u-shaped in order to rub its scales against each other, making a fearsome rasping sound in order to seem more dangerous.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

White Lions versus tawny

The White Lions of Timbivati (a private game reserve adjoining the Kruger National Park Game Reserve in South Africa) were first seen in 1975 and a book was written about them. They were first recorded as far back as 1928 but were not seen again until then. The local people hold them as sacred and when one is born in its natural habitat, foretells of great things to come.
They are not albinos as can be seen by the eyes which are a green/honey color, just slightly lighter than their tawny brothers. The coloration is caused by a recessive gene and white cubs can be born from normal tawny parents and then for generations will not appear again. The reverse is also possible with a white female giving birth to tawny cubs. This gene can be separated and used in breeding programs and is done by many private game farms however, this leads to inbreeding and causes physical defects mostly noticeable in the eyes which droop or are crossed.The picture below shows clearly how different they are in color, with a white female in the foreground and a white male inbetween his tawny brothers behind. Besides the difference in eye color, the tawny lion has a black-tipped tail whereas the white lion has a white bush at the end of it. There is also a difference in color in the pad of the feet and the lips.
For more pictures, please see: White Lions

Monday, October 18, 2010

Birds of Pilansberg - Part 6

Yeah, yeah, I know!! Some of these are STRANGE looking birds aren't they?? LOL!! LOL!!

I stopped for coffee at a small dam and looking over the wall saw a lot of turtles coming up for a breath of air.
Warthogs were feeding on the banks but everything was still a bit dry as no rain had fallen yet.
An immature Blackshouldered Kite was posing very nicely although a bit far away.
The Pied Kingfisher was sitting on a nearby branch and...
.....looking at the fish swimming in the water below with hunger in his eyes.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Bearded Dragon Lizard

Bearded Dragons (also known as the fire breathing lizard) have broad triangular heads and flattened bodies, with adults reaching approximately 18 to 24 inches (45-60 cm or 1 1/2 ft-2 ft) from head to tail. When threatened, they will expand a spiny pouch under their jaw, as well as inhale air and puff up to make them appear larger. The pouch resembles a beard, lending the animal their name. Males and females are of comparable size, although males usually sport a larger head and a thicker tail base than the females. Mature males will turn their throat pouches black during courtship and to signal dominance, although females have also been known to do the same.
Many Bearded Dragon habitats are dry and sparsely vegetated, so food may often be difficult to find. As a result, Bearded Dragons are omnivorous, capable of subsisting on a wide variety of food sources, including both insects and vegetable food. A typical diet for captive Bearded Dragons includes leafy greens and vegetables, and regular meals of feeder insects. Their stomachs are large enough to accommodate large quantities of food. Young Bearded Dragons do not eat as much vegetation as their adult counterparts. As a Bearded Dragon ages it may be persuaded to eat less animal matter and more plants, maybe leveling off at around an 80% plant and 20%.
Avocado and Rhubarb are lethal to Dragons as well as birds. Spinach contains high oxalates which bind to calcium and in large amounts can lead to metabolic bone disease. If a bearded dragon's digestive tract is healthy, and it receives adequate UV light and temperatures, it will get significant benefits - including absorption of calcium - from calcium-rich food plants that also contain oxalic acid.
Bearded Dragons bask most of the day, absorbing the heat they need to digest their food. It is important that there are at least one or two good basking spots in the Dragon's habitat. Rocks are preferable to logs as they hold heat better, though logs can also provide stimulation for the animal, which will use them for climbing. Any item taken from the outside must first be boiled or baked, however, to remove contaminants. The habitat should also include something the dragon can hide under.