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

Friday, May 30, 2014

Whitebreasted Cormorant

Sorry for the lousy pictures but maybe one day I will win the lottery and be able to afford a decent lens. LOL!!

Large birds found throughout SA by all marine and inland waters.
Mainly eats fish but also frogs and snails.

In warmer regions, breed throughout the year with 2-4 eggs in a clutch.
Info: Robert’s Birds of Southern Africa

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Elephant Standing

The calf had been digging in the sand for water and was trying to regain his feet. He looked so ungainly. LOL!! 
A younger calf decided that he did not want to share any water he found and went to dig a hole for himself. He is only about 2 years old but I loved this pose. J

Here is an interesting video of the elephants digging for water

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Hyaena Mother with cubs

During the three month tour I have just completed, we came across so many wonderful sights. One of them being on an early morning drive while staying at Pretoriuskop Camp in Kruger National Park.
Turning a corner, there was a mother Hyaena suckling two cubs of about 8 months old. This was a day where the light was just in the wrong place to get decent pictures as we had to shoot tight into it. She quickly got them out of the way as we approached. 
Leaving the dam, we came across the same Hyaena and lo and behold, she had another set of smaller cubs with her and was suckling them! I thought the first time I saw her she was rather swollen with milk for such large cubs but now I understood why.
These pictures are awful as now they were on the wrong side of the car for me and I had to take them through the window. Once again she quickly got them off the road into the bush.
 She stood up so quickly that both cubs toppled backwards, LOL!!
The shaft of sunlight catching this youngster somehow really caught my attention.

Here are three interesting videos:
Mother feeding cubs
Hyaena vs warthog
Too close for comfort
Info: Unique Facts about Wildlife in South Africa (Joan Young)

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

King Cheetah vs normal Cheetah

King cheetah in first picture
The king cheetah is a rare mutation of the cheetah characterized by a distinct fur pattern. It was first noted in what was then Southern Rhodesia (modern-day Zimbabwe) in 1926. In 1927, the naturalist Reginald Innes Pocock declared it a separate species, but reversed this decision in 1939 due to lack of evidence; but in 1928, a skin purchased by Walter Rothschild was found to be intermediate in pattern between the king cheetah and spotted cheetah and Abel Chapman considered it to be a color form of the spotted cheetah. Twenty-two such skins were found between 1926 and 1974. Since 1927, the king cheetah was reported five more times in the wild. Although strangely marked skins had come from Africa, a live king cheetah was not photographed until 1974 in South Africa's Kruger National Park. Cryptozoologists Paul and Lena Bottriell photographed one during an expedition in 1975. They also managed to obtain stuffed specimens. It appeared larger than a spotted cheetah and its fur had a different texture. There was another wild sighting in 1986—the first in seven years. By 1987, thirty-eight specimens had been recorded, many from pelts.

Its species status was resolved in 1981 when king cheetahs were born at the De Wildt Cheetah and Wildlife Centre in South Africa. In May 1981, two spotted sisters gave birth there and each litter contained one king cheetah. The sisters had both mated with a wild-caught male from the Transvaal area (where king cheetahs had been recorded). Further king cheetahs were later born at the Centre. It has been known to exist in Zimbabwe, Botswana and in the northern part of South Africa's Transvaal province.

In 2012, the cause of this alternative coat pattern was found to be a mutation in the gene for transmembrane aminopeptidase Q (Taqpep), the same gene responsible for the striped 'mackerel' versus blotchy 'classic' patterning seen in tabby cats. The mutation is recessive and must be inherited from both parents for this pattern to appear, which is one reason why it is so rare.

Please go and read the full article on Wikipedia on the history of cheetah. It is fascinating!!

Info: Unique Facts about Wildlife in South Africa (Joan Young)

Monday, May 19, 2014

Fiscal Shrike

The females (first picture) are slightly browner than the male but both have a white V-shape marking of white feathers on their backs.
An extremely common bird found throughout South Africa with a sub-species found in the Cape and Freestate which has a white eyebrow steak.
 A common name for them is also the Jacky-hanger due to its habit of hanging insects it catches on barbed wire or thorns.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Earth Star mushroom ( Geastrum)

 Family Geastraceae
Found growing near Polokwane in the shade of two Sweet Thorn trees.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The colours of dawn

An early start to winter finds mist in the mountains. During the tour, this picture was taken in Mountain Zebra Park. 
 The four below were taken in Pilansberg on a cloudy day which is always the best time to take pics.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Hydnora abyssinica

Family Hydnoraceae
A most unusual plant which has stirred up great discussions of the finding of it in Satara Camp, KNP. Although it looks like a mushroom, it is classified as a parasitic plant and a flowering plant - why parasitic I do not know as it does not grow on anything but comes up from rhizomes deep in the ground. It is pollinated by beetles and the flesh is said to be edible.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Zebra injury

Note the difference between the two stomachs of the zebra. The one behind is more square and when I asked the cause, this was the reply I received: Thanks Dr. Peter Buss! 
Thanks for sending me the photograph.  It is always difficult to give definitive answers based only on a photograph. However, the enlargement on the zebra’s abdomen, which appears to be localized, suggests three possibilities. a) a hernia of fat and other tissue through a small tear in the muscles of the abdomen to below the skin. The original injury resulting in the tear may have been a kick from another zebra; b) localized infection resulting in an abscess; c) soft tissue growth.  The most likely is an abscess as it is an unusual place for a hernia, and growths (cancers) are not common in wildlife. The thickened vein running from the area, which is visible in the photo, suggests an increased blood supply to the area and possibly an active lesion which would be consistent with an abscess. It is also possible the mass may be blocking the vein causing it to appear enlarged.”

Sunday, May 4, 2014


In some areas I have noticed that in game reserves and farmers put out salt like for the animals as there is a lack of it and other minerals in the soil. 
This one is in Pilanesberg Game reserve and all kinds of animals and birds come down to enjoy it.
While many take licks, some like the giraffe chew on it and the pieces which break off is what the smaller birds go for.
Sometimes the Wildebeest would lick it for over 10 minutes and although it would make them drool, they did not go down to the watering hole to drink water afterwards as one would think.
For myself I know that if I had to lick on it for so long, my tongue would be raw but it does not seem to bother them.
The Giraffe are so tall that they have to spread their legs wide apart in order for their heads to reach it. They do the same when drinking and have special valves regulating the blood flow so that it does not run into their heads when in this position.
Species would take turn at waiting until another had finished and it was their chance to get at it.
 "Hey guys, it's MY turn"

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Redwing Starling chicks

They had made a nest on a ledge, high up inside a building. 
 The two chicks were perched precariously and I wondered that they did not fall off.
Mother brought a grub for them and as always, the stronger and more dominant chick got it.
Although the second chick begged for food, there was no more.
What a raucous they put up!
Mother cleaned the nest a bit and flew off.
The following day there was only one chick still left and on inquiring was told that the few people in the building had found the other chick dead on the floor. Another case of only the strongest surviving.