Description and Habitat
While on a game drive on Sibuya Game Reserve we found this species of scorpion (Opisthacanthus capensis). With its robust chelae (pincers), dark brown to black in colour, turning green when under cover for some time – this scorpion is ground-dwelling, and found mainly in moist habitats in dense vegetation, forests, hiding under bark and rocks.
This species features in the diets of the bat-eared fox, the yellow mongoose and the small grey mongoose, just to mention a few.
Its venom contains powerful neurotoxins and cytotoxins, the venom from this species is largely composed of melittin which stimulates the release of the enzyme phospholipase A2 causing inflammation and pain.
The Karoo Boer-been tree is small in stature (max. height 5 m), evergreen, with rigid branches and has a gnarled trunk. The flowers are numerous, bright red to pink in colour and are borne in small clusters during the months of February to March. They are distributed throughout the tree.
Flowers produce copious amounts of nectar which attract birds, especially the Lesser Double-collared Sunbird and Malachite Sunbird. The butterfly Dantalis breeds in the tree. Flowers are followed by attractive, large, lime green to pink seedpods which turn brown when ripe. The seed is dispersed through an explosive seedpod, which when dry, catapults the seeds great distances from the parent plant. Seeds are produced in May and June of each year. Under normal circumstances the seeds would germinate in moist soil in late spring after the winter rains.
It has a number of interesting uses. A decoction of the bark is taken to treat heartburn and hangovers. Bark and root mixtures are used to strengthen the body and purify the blood, to treat nervous heart conditions and diarrhoea, as well as for facial saunas. The seeds are edible after roasting, and although low in fat and protein they have a high carbohydrate content.
The trees often occur along the banks of dry streams and small rivers in the Little Karoo, the drier areas of Eastern Cape, including Sibuya Game Reserve and the southern part of Western Cape.