For the identification of insects and other fauna and flora of South Africa.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

SABLE ANTELOPE ( Hippotragus niger)

The males are black and the females and young a chestnut brown.  All have white bellies and rumps, hence their name in Afrikaans "black white-stomach".

Usually the males are found by themselves and therefore when a group is together it will have a female as its leader.
Females reach sexual maturity at about two years of age.

As they are dependant on water, they will never be found more than a few kilometers from it, usually in fairly thick bush. In Kruger National Park they can often be seen around the Orpen Rocks area.

When the young are born, the female will hide it for the first few days.

After a gestation period of eight months, a single calf is born  weighing  about fifteen kilograms.
In marking off their territories, the male will also strip the bark off trees with his horns.

Both the males and females have horns and it is a known fact that they are able to kill lions with their long curved horns.

Young males are evicted from the herd at about three years old, and are  then left to find their own territory and mates.

Fighting is common amongst the males and this usually ends in one of them being killed.

Male sable are very aggressive and very often they will kill the younger ones in the herd.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Spectacular sunsets

I am always amazed at the spectacular colors in winter.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Skipper - Bushveld Sandman

Skippers are small to medium in size with broad wings and bright markings.
 They Have a flitting flight and dancing, alighting on leaves with open wings.
 A single white egg is laid in a domed and ribbed Acanthaceae (egg sack).
 Spippers are the second largest subfamily of Hesperidae.
 This is Bushveld Sandman (Spialia colotos transvaaliae). They prefer dry to arid areas.
 A close-up of the wings above and underneath, its underside.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Moon rotation

One night I was outside trying to get some shots of the moon again. You have to give me an "A" for trying. :)
 I must have been there for about 20-30 minutes but did not get anything spectacular.
 However, once I have them on the computer, I could see that I had captured a whole rotation of it.

Monday, August 22, 2011


I have found a few scorpions now but it is one critter I know almost nothing about.

Scorpions are fascinating animals, though most people see them as potentially deadly killers, a wildly inaccurate assessment. However, it is true that after man himself, followed by snakes and the bees, scorpions cause more human deaths than any other no-parasitic animal. Mexico is one hotspot to watch out for scorpions, as are India, North Africa parts of South America and the USA.
 The incredibly small percentage of dangerous species cause death via complex neurotoxins, bringing both local and systemic paralysis, severe convulsions and cardiac arrest, which can all occur within a few hours of being stung. Fortunately, good anti-venoms are widely available and death can be avoided with proper medication. In fact, the neurotoxins employed by Death Stalker scorpions are being studied by scientists researching a treatment for some diseases, including some forms of brain cancer and diabetes.
 Although only medium-sized, the Death Stalker is one of the deadliest. The extremely potent venom causes extreme pain, fever, convulsions, paralysis, and often coma or death for people stung. The Death Stalker Scorpion is found in North Africa and the Middle East. It prefers a dry climate, and makes its home in natural burrows or under stones.
Scorpions can truly be seen as living fossils because they have changed very little in 400 million years of evolution. These amazing creatures have some of the lowest metabolic rates ever recorded in any animal. Most species stay within 1 metre of their burrows and some may spend as much as 97% of their lives inside their burrows. Some species can go a full year without food, and some live without water at all, taking what they need from prey creatures.

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Saturday, August 20, 2011

Air Show - Part 5 - Tiger Moth


In the 1920's, the de Havilland Aircraft Works developed a line of light aircraft, intended to be affordable and easy to fly for the average man. They were called Moths, in recognition of Geoffrey de Havilland's renown as a lepidopterist. The first model, introduced in 1925 became the D.H. 60 Cirrus Moth. It was a simple yet strong spruce and plywood box section design, powered by a four cylinder 60 horsepower engine.

    In 1927, a variant  was introduced with a new, improved inline inverted four cylinder engine. This  became the famous GYPSY MOTH. It proved powerful and reliable, and many light plane records were broken all over the world. Not only did it advance the cause of civil aviation, but it was seen to be an ideal training aircraft as well. The Royal Air Force had been using this type for elementary instruction  for several years when the Air Ministry issued specifications calling for an improved version. D.H. 60 fuselages were used, but the wing centre sections were moved forward while the outer sections were moved back. This distinctive swept wing configuration kept the centre of gravity constant with the changes that were necessary. Thus was born the D.H. 82 TIGER MOTH.
 For 15 years this became the foremost primary trainer throughout the commonwealth and elsewhere. It was the dominant type used in the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan and thousands of military pilots got their first taste of flight in this robust little machine.

Altogether, over 9000 of these aircraft were made, 1,784 D.H.82C's being built by De Havilland Canada under license. The Canadian models featured a tail wheel, a stronger undercarriage with wheels set farther forward and a sliding canopy for protection from the elements.
 After the war they were universally and inexpensively available for flying clubs and individuals. Numerous examples are still flying today and they will always be fondly remembered for providing flying in its purest form for so many.

TYPE: Two seat, single bay biplane

POWERPLANT: either a 145 hp GYPSY MAJOR four cylinder inverted air-cooled or a 160 hp Menasco Pirate.

PERFORMANCE: Maximum Speed:105 mph at sea level; Rate of Climb: 635 feet per minute; Take-off Weight: 1, 825 lbs; Range: 300 miles

DIMENSIONS: Length: 23', 11"; Span: 29', 4"; Height: 8' 91/2"

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Grass Yellow Butterfly - Eurema brigitta

If there is anything in the animal/insect world which I find it is butterflies.
 Not only is there a difference in males and female of the species, in many case there is a difference in the wet and dry seasons too!! Now I have to look at and find for different ones in order to make a positive identification.
 This is a Broad-bordered Grassy Yellow butterfly belonging to the Pieridae/coliadinae family and looks very similar to Eurema zoe.
 However that species has brown instead of black markings around the edges of the wings and make it another species Eurema zoe.
 What utter confusion!! Enough to drive one to insanity don't you think? Especialy when the old grey cells dont work too well anymore. LOL!! (or do they?) :) I guess that is the challenge in learning something new.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Roodeplaat Dam - Part 6 Final

This dam is very popular for kayaking and there are always people practicing.

 Every year they have a big competition there. As mentioned in a previous post, the dam has been divided so that no boats with engins come this side.
 In some places the dam is fairly narrow and on both sides of it, people can be seen having a BBQ or picnic and enjoying the sunshine.
 Roodeplaat lays just on the outshirts of town and dwindles down to a fairy small stream.
 No matter how cold the weather, fisherman find this a wonderful spot. I dont know what kind of fish are to be found there as I have never fished there myself.
 The banks have these small shelters all the way as close to the water, there are not many trees and it is darn hot there in summer. If you arrive there early, you will be lucky to get one to use for the day.
 The animals are starting to feel the lack of nice green grass but many of the trees still have their leaves too so there is no shortage of food for them,
 At the beging and end of summer (just before the rains) controlled fires are set to burn off the old grass.
 A pretty flower only a few inches in height.
 As I was leaving I had to cross over a small stream and this crab was sitting on the road enjoying the heat from the tarmac.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Pygmy Hippopotamus - Hexaprotodon liberiensis

 Pygmy Hippopotamus - Hexaprotodon liberiensis are about the same size as a sheep or Alsation and belongs to order of Artiodactyla. It lives in rivers and swamps in dense forests in western Africa (Ivory Coast, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, and possibly Nigeria and Guinea). This kind of hippopotamus is considered to be critically endangered.  
 The body of hippopotamus is barrel-shaped and it is supported by proportionally long legs. Its average length is from 142 to 175 centimetres, at shoulders 75 to 100 and the length of tail is 15 to 28 centimetres. The weight of an adult is between 160 and 272 kg. The head is round and narrower, with the eyes placed more to the sides. Its skin is smooth, hairless, with a secretion of mucous that keeps it moist and shiny. Its colour goes from black-brown to purple. A wiry tassel of hair at the end of its stubby tail is yellow.

Pygmy hippos live separately, female accept male presence only in heat. The gestation period with females takes from 184 to 204 days, and it gives birth to one, rarely to two young on land or in shallow water. They are weaned after 6 – 8 months and reach sexual maternity in fourth or fifth year. Pygmy hippopotamus lives up to 42 years.

Both sexes have home ranges and there are numerous resting places throughout their territories, which they use exclusively when sleeping. They are found in moist to wet terrain.

They seek for their food on higher drier ground, and are most active between 6 pm and midnight. Their diet consists of water plants, grasses, fallen fruit and leaves.
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Friday, August 12, 2011

Begining and end

The winter sunsets are very spectacular here and yet the days can start off misty and cold. Much like life I would think.

 Sometimes we start out with a dim prospect or outlook and slowly, as time passes, things look brighter.
 They say things improve with time and age but I wonder if this is really the case or is it just that our perspective changes?
 Is it our experiences in life which sets things in a broader context and helps us to see over the horizon and into the light?