Archive for the ‘Creatures Great & Small’ Category

The dragonfly, damselfly, mayfly and wisp.

December 15th, 2019, posted in Creatures Great & Small, Educating You

Our FGASA field guides tell us dragonfly wings are typically held at right angles to their bodies, whilst damselfly wings are typically held parallel to the abdomen, whilst the mayfly and wisp are daintier. We recommend getting books (A guide to the dragonflies and damselflies of South Africa ) and papers ( ) about these beautiful flying creatures.

Hyena hide-out

September 8th, 2018, posted in Creatures Great & Small, Wildlife

It is always rewarding to see a den with little ones, and this sighting of Hyena was no exception!

Lazy Lion

September 6th, 2018, posted in Creatures Great & Small, Wildlife

The following images of a Lion where taken on Thanda Safari.

Elephant a slimmer view

September 6th, 2018, posted in Creatures Great & Small, Wildlife

Elephant browsing in the late afternoon sun

This Elephant looks slimmer than it actually is, the angle of the photo combine with the bend in the road leads your eye to the left.
Note the toenails. This was such a great ending to a lovely day.

Eye of the Beholder

April 26th, 2012, posted in Creatures Great & Small, Wildlife

We all enjoy the early morning sun’s rays and on this morning Pieter found this Boomslang in its wooden dwelling waiting for the sun’s rays to get a little warmer.
















A couple of months later, out on a limb, well almost – more like the most slender of Acacia tree branches – this Boomslang watched Pieter intently.















It is at these moments that you wonder what a human looks like to a snake…

What else does the Boomslang perceive the human race to be?

We continue to support Nature reserves, wilderness areas, game parks and farms for there is plenty to experience, so much for the soul and even more to see, our conservation passion lies not only in the eye of the beholder…                        but also what the naked eye does not see!


March 6th, 2012, posted in Creatures Great & Small, Wildlife

It’s all about the Elephants

Last week I chatted to a lady who said the only reason why she came to Africa was to see Elephants. I found this very interesting as most tourists come to see as much as they can, researches and students would come for a specific animal, but not the normal tourist and that got me thinking – so what is a ‘normal tourist’?

I chose to blog about that too and you can read about The Normal Tourist soon!

To get back to the Elephants, as I started thinking about this enormous animals and where I’ve seen and watched them, I realized that I too must have some abserd fascination with Elephants because as I went through my photo album over the last two years – the majority of my photo’s are of elephants.

These are a selection of photographs I’ve taken of Elephants and the reasons (if any) I took the pictures.

The 5-legged elephant!

Elephant with an ear-piercing!

Elephant mothers and their babies!

Elephant feeding on grass under the level of water in lake Kariba!

Elephants take a mud bath in camp!

This is not a circus - this is how they do it in the Wild!

Unusual angle - take a look at that mouth!

Ele trying to squeeze the chlorine out of the water !

Meet Stumpy

Mutation in the genes can cause stunted growth

Joshua noticed the short trunk before I did!

Simply watching and making memories!

Dodge the Dung!

December 15th, 2011, posted in Creatures Great & Small, Educating You

I’m driving on the game reserve, slowly looking at the bright new colours of the leaves in the bush, hoping to catch a glimpse of a bird. I take my time, the road is gravel and we’re not in a rush anyway – Pieter and Joshua are on the back and all of a sudden I hear “Dodge the Dung!”

I look at the road and swerve – missing the elephant dung by an inch or two.  Not very responsible for a nature conservationist!  Alas, I had been too busy admiring the environment, rather than concentrating on where I was driving!  Thus the blog about dodging the dung!

After good rains in South Africa (end October/November), the dung beetles arrive in full force – collecting fresh dung as food and/or as nurseries!

You’ll find a variety of dung beetles hard at work rolling dung balls – if you are driving and watching where you drive 🙂 you’ll see them on the road – both tar and gravel, if you’re on a game path – you’ll see them along the path and if you are staying on a game reserve – then they’ll be wherever there is a fresh pile of dung! 

Dung beetles play an important role in the ecosystem – cleaning up animal waste and converting it into a ball that sustains their life!

Dung beetles are of the Family Scarabaeidae. This family of beetles are easily recognised by their antennae, which have an apical club of 3-7 flat, expanded, moveable plates that can open out fanwise.

Unlike their cousins (the Chafer’s), Dung beetles are all highly beneficial to their environment!  My son welcomes these busy creatures each season when his chore of “poop-scooping” is taken away by the dung beetles. They don’t seem to mind using doggy-doo either, as long as it’s dung, it gets rolled up in ball and rolled away!

Checking direction before continuing to roll the ball of dung

Large copper dung beetle

Anthrax – nature’s lethal weapon

September 23rd, 2011, posted in Creatures Great & Small, Educating You, Wildlife

The word anthrax sounds scary and for some it is. Understanding anthrax appeals to few, but the hype that is created around anthrax is amusing!

Why do people get so upset when animals die? Animals die every day in the wild in the struggle for survival and what is ironic is, that many tourists will pay a fortune to see a predator make a kill whilst they’re on the back of a game-viewing vehicle!  Is it beacuse so many animals die at once? Is it the side effects of the disease?

Recently in Zambia, anthrax killed a number of hippo and buffalo,  although initially there were conflicting reports from the “powers-that-be” anthrax was confirmed and the situation became SERIOUS!

Herewith part of an e-mail from a caring member of the community who tried to people at rest at the beginning of September…

Dear All

   As most of you are aware about the hippos that are keeling over and dieing …, I would just like to inform you that we are waiting for the test results to come back so that we have a definite answer about what is happening. So far we are just speculating that it is Anthrax due to the signs of bleeding from Anus and Nose. It is effecting the hippos most, however there have been a few dead buffalos in the park and GMA.

  There is no reason to panic though even if it is Anthrax, it is a naturally occurring disease which bares its head every few years due to climatic conditions. The spores are able to lie dormant for many years in the soil.

I have attached two links to very helpful sites which deal with Anthrax in Humans and in Wildlife. We as humans are not at major risk, unless we ingest an animals meat that has died from Anthrax. A form of anthrax which effects the skin and can cause blistering can be contracted if handling the carcases of dead beasts. This can be treated simply with a course of Anti-biotics…

Please if you do see any fresh carcases report them … and if possible take a GPS reading to pass on to us. As you have seen some carcases have been covered with Lime. This is to dissuade scavengers from opening the carcases and spreading the spores. It is just a preventative measure which we were advised to take …

 I will let everyone know the results of tests as soon as we have them, but in the meantime please report fresh carcases, don’t touch the carcases without gloves, drive to close, or eat the meat!!!  

Anthrax in Wildlife 

Anthrax and Humans:

Of course their are many, many hippopotamus pods and large herds of buffalo and both species share a liking for shallow pools – the hippo like the pools because they like to take a rest from the might Zambezi river current and the buffalo enjoy the mud at the edge of the pools, they are also both grazers.  It would be interesting to find the source of the spores that can lie dormant for many years and if there is a connection between man-made channels leading inland from the Zambezi River or if this is pureply nature’s way of decreasing the populations.

Now for the Serious stuff…

Another letter, but this time,  two weeks later, it is a PLEA…

Greetings all

Thanks to … we have been informed today of some lions showing signs of swelling around the mouth and face as well as drooling thick white mucous. As a result … went down to photograph them and check for ourselves. Indeed it was a scary sight! The poor beasts are suffering from obvious signs of Anthrax, obviously from gorging themselves on infected carcasses. At first we didn’t think they could be affected but unfortunately that is obviously not the case.

The warden has been notified as to has the government vet and Dr … Doc  is on his way down with the government vet and hope they will be here tomorrow. At the moment our aim is to treat these lions as soon as possible with penicillin as well as inoculate them and possibly all the lions in the area.

We will need everyones co-operation on this please and request that any lion sightings be reported immediately … We also ask that the guides take notice of any swelling around the mouths or head and neck region or signs of drooling excessively. At the same time though we will need space and privacy to work on the lions so will ask that all game drives stay away if they see us busy with lions. We might be out all day and night tomorrow so will need everyones co-operation and if needed we will call for assistance.

Thank you all in advance.

As it stands at the moment we have lost over 40 hippo, 15 buffalo, 4 Civets and possibly 2 elephants to this outbreak. All are unconfirmed as they haven’t been tested and there may be more which we have missed.

The first reported cases were this time last month.

If anyone has had contact with the carcases or handled them in anyway please take a course of Ampicillin for precautions.

Thanks and hopefully with everyones help we can save our lions. According to Dr … if we treat them soon then they will bounce back fast.

So there we have it from DONT PANIC to PLEASE HELP.  This is what humans are all about, we want nature to take it course but we’ll do anything we can to prevent animals from dying due to natural diseases because at the end of the day, it’s not nice to see dead animals but it certainly is great to see lions feeding off their own kill!


On a more serious note, if you ever see grazers bleeding from the nose or anus or lots of saliva dripping from the mouths of predators, please report it to the local authorities, park rangers and wardens do need all the help they can get to manage their parks and reserves!

Herewith the sad pictures of the infected lions:

Mystery at dusk

September 26th, 2010, posted in Climate & Weather, Creatures Great & Small

Just after sunset as the cooler night air began to flow into camp, the still September air was suddenly filled with sound of raindrops. There is no rain in the Lower Zambezi Valley during the hot dry months of September and October but there was no doubt about what I could hear – it was the sound of raindrops on the dry leaves that had been blown off the trees by the August winds.

I stepped out from under the thatched lounge area to feel the raindrops but instead felt nothing and only heard the rustle of leaves under my feet. The sound of raindrops hitting the ground stopped and now I was mystified! The following afternoon, just after sunset it happened again…

Pieter identified the tree that grows there as a “Rain Tree”, Lonchocarpus capassa . Early the next morning, I went to have a look at what the raindrops could have been but could not see anything. A few days later, to my delight there were thousands of tiny purple-blue flowers on the ground of which I have a picture to show you and for those interested, it’s not the flowers that are referred to as rain, but water from an insect…

“Many Africans are very superstitious about L. capassa for it is one of the so-called rain trees, and some specimens do ‘rain’ for a week or more during the hot dry months just prior to the actual breaking of the rains. This phenomenon is found in other unrelated genera and in this case is caused by the numph of a small insect, a species of frog-hopper, Ptyelus grossus, belonging to the order Hemiptera. As a protection against the sun, the nymph covers itself with a frothy substance similar to patches of foam, popularly called ‘cuckoo-spit’, caused by common, closely related species. The insects obtain nourishment by piercing the bark of the tree with their sucking mouth parts (stylets) and sucking up the sap at great speed. They eject almost pure water equally fast, and this drips from the tree in sufficient quantity to form pools on the ground below…

flowers from Loncocarpus

African night sounds

May 12th, 2010, posted in Creatures Great & Small, Wildlife

In Africa there are many sounds that you will become aware of at night. I remember the first time I heard a Black-backed jackal, it was an eerie sound and looked to my Dad for comfort as we sat around the campfire on a neighbours farm. These days, we almost take hearing them call for granted, not quite, but almost!

Sleeping in a luxury East-African safari tent or simply under the canvass of a dome tent allows you to hear the night sounds and experience Africa with one of your finest senses, hearing…

There is nothing more awesome than hearing the roar of Lion, grunting of leopard or giggle of Hyena. Then I wonder if there is anything more peaceful than hearing the call of a Nightjar and song of crickets.

Towards the end of summer, I enjoyed a night in the bushveld with a few journalists from the UK and Europe. I was walking alongside a lady from Ireland a little distance from where we were eating in the open air boma when she commented on how loud it was, I thought she was referring to the conversation noise level, but after my response, realized quickly that she had been referring to the sound of insects!

Listening to the night is not quiet as you would somehow think it to be, although there would be no alarms, no traffic noise, no horns, the night is filled with a conversation of creatures that fill the darkness with life!

The following is a recording of painted reed frogs who sang a grateful song after the rains in Mozambique, a choir we had the privilege of hearing whilst staying at Machampane Wilderness Camp in the Transfrontier Park near the Kruger National Park!

Bushtrails video: painted reed frogs, the sound