White-backed vulture

We have had an incredible and rare sighting of a White-backed vulture again on Sibuya this week…and it’s brought along a mate…These vultures are not usually found in this coastal region due to the high winds and lack of thermals – so we and the birding community are very excited!

Photo taken by Ranger Christiaan

Like other vultures it is a scavenger, feeding mostly from carcasses of animals which it finds by soaring over savannah. It also takes scraps from human habitations. It often moves in flocks. It breeds in trees on the savannah of west and east Africa, laying one egg. The population is mostly resident.

Did you know: A number of protected areas in Africa hold populations of white-backed vultures, including Serengeti National Park in Tanzania, a World Heritage Site. arkive.org

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Water Monitor

This rather large species of water monitor (Varanus niloticus) is also known as a leguaan in South Africa.

Monitor lizards are, as a rule, almost entirely carnivorous, consuming prey as varied as insects, crustaceans, arachnids, myriapods, molluscs, fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals. Most species feed on invertebrates as juveniles and shift to feeding on vertebrates as adults.

Water monitors are excellent swimmers, folding their legs in and using their tails like crocodiles, and can stay underwater for well over half an hour. They can run astonishingly fast over a short distance and invariably head for water when disturbed.

A Water Monitor making his way across the road into the longer grass on Sibuya Game Reserve.
These lizards can grow up to 2.5 meters long and this fellow looks pretty close to that.

Mantis

Mantises are distributed worldwide (and can be found on Sibuya Game Reserve in Eastern Cape, South Africa) in temperate and tropical habitats. They have triangular heads with bulging eyes supported on flexible necks. Their elongated bodies may or may not have wings, but all Mantodea have forelegs that are greatly enlarged and adapted for catching and gripping prey; their upright posture, while remaining stationary with forearms folded, has led to the common name praying mantis.

(Baby Praying Mantis – Photo taken by Ranger Drikus on Sibuya Game Reserve)

Mantises are mostly ambush predators, but a few ground-dwelling species are found actively pursuing their prey. hey normally live for about a year. In cooler climates, the adults lay eggs in autumn, then die. The eggs are protected by their hard capsules and hatch in the spring. Females sometimes practice sexual cannibalism, eating their mates after copulation.

Mantises are among the insects most widely kept as pets.  Because the lifespan of a mantis is only about a year, people who want to keep mantises often breed them.

Great egret

The great egret (Ardea alba), also known as the common egret, large egret or (in the Old World) great white egret or great white heron is a large, widely distributed egret, with four subspecies found in Asia, Africa, the Americas, and southern Europe. Distributed across most of the tropical and warmer temperate regions of the world. It builds tree nests in colonies close to water and commonly seen on the banks of the Kariega River on the Sibuya Game Reserve.

Description

The great egret is a large heron with all-white plumage.  Apart from size, the great egret can be distinguished from other white egrets by its yellow bill and black legs and feet, though the bill may become darker and the lower legs lighter in the breeding season.  It has a slow flight, with its neck retracted. The great egret walks with its neck extended and wings held close. The great egret is not normally a vocal bird; it gives a low hoarse croak when disturbed, and at breeding colonies, it often gives a loud croaking cuk cuk cuk and higher-pitched squawks.

Distribution and conservation

The great egret is generally a very successful species with a large and expanding range, occurring worldwide in temperate and tropical habitats. The species adapts well to human habitation and can be readily seen near wetlands and bodies of water in urban and suburban areas.

Diet

The great egret feeds in shallow water or drier habitats, feeding mainly on fish, frogs, small mammals, and occasionally small reptiles and insects, spearing them with its long, sharp bill most of the time by standing still and allowing the prey to come within its striking distance of its bill which it uses as a spear. It will often wait motionless for prey, or slowly stalk its victim.

The Sustainable Seas Trust (SST) and Sibuya Clean up Project

We had an amazing day yesterday on a project with The Sustainable Seas Trust (SST) Kenton on Sea. 20 children from a local school, their teacher as well as members from SST did a big clean up on various sections of the Kariega River.

The day started with a boat cruise to Forest Camp, a talk by both SST and Sibuya about the effects of plastic and littering to our environment, followed by a hot dogs and juice for everyone.

22 bags of plastic and rubbish were collected in an hour and a half. Thank you to everyone involved for making a difference to our precious environment!

 

Nigel, our resident Nyala at Forest Camp

Description

Adult males and females look totally different.  Males are slate grey to dark brown with up to 14 distinct white stripes across the back going down the flanks.  They have white spots on their thighs and belly.  Females do not have manes or fringes of long hair.

Habitat

They are restricted to reedbeds and adjacent grasslands of the Okavango and Chobe. During the annual flood they move out of the reedbeds for a short period.

Nyala Nigel 2

Diet

As a herbivore, the nyala’s diet consists of foliage, fruits, flowers and twigs. During the rainy season they feed upon the fresh grass. They need a regular intake of water, and thus choose places with a water source nearby.  Today the nyala are found in South African protected areas in the KwaZulu-Natal Game Reserves of Ndumo Game Reserve, uMkuze Game Reserve and Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Game Reserve, Kruger National Park and Sibuya Private Game Reserve. According to statistics of 1999, 10-15% of the nyala occur on private land.

Fishing at Sibuya Game Reserve

The Kob is probably one of the most targeted edible saltwater fish off South Africa’s coastline and is known by many names in Southern Africa: Kob, Daga, Drum, Daga Salmon and Kabeljou. The Kob grow to big sizes and put heavy tackle to the test. They are also a great species to target on boats in estuaries with lures. Kob are aggressive fish and mainly move around in shoals where they feed on smaller fish and crustaceans.

Fishing - Sibuya

Breeding Habits

Most adults migrate from the Cape to KwaZulu-Natal to spawn between August and November. Juveniles enter the upper reaches of estuaries where they remain until they about 15cm. The juveniles prefer the sandy or muddy substrates in shallow embayments.

Feeding Habits

Most kob species are voracious, shoaling predators and some species have become highly specialised for feeding in their muddy, murky environment. Their lateral line system (a sensory system found in all fish that enables them to detect vibrations and pressure changes in the water) is very well developed and this, in conjunction with the sensory barbles which some have on their snouts, makes the kob less reliant on sight when feeding. Small fish, crustaceans such as prawns and crabs, and molluscs such as squid and cuttlefish are all eaten by the various kob species.