Tag Archives: African Safari

Waterbuck

The waterbuck (Kobus ellipsiprymnus) is a large antelope found widely in sub-Saharan Africa.

The waterbuck cannot tolerate dehydration in hot weather, and thus inhabits areas close to sources of water. Predominantly a grazer, the waterbuck is mostly found on grasslands of Sibuya Game Reserve.  

Waterbuck are rather sedentary in nature. A gregarious animal, the waterbuck may form herds consisting of six to 30 individuals.  The coat colour varies from brown to grey. The long, spiral horns, present only on males, curve backward, then forward.

In equatorial regions, breeding takes place throughout the year, but births are at their peak in the rainy season. The gestational period lasts for seven to eight months, followed by the birth of a single calf.

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Rinkhals

The rinkhals, also called the ringhals or ring-necked spitting cobra, is a species of venomous snake found in parts of Southern Africa including Sibuya Game Reserve.

A small to medium sized snake usually 90 cm to 120 cm in length, but can reach 1,5m. The snake is closely related to the true cobras, but differs from the true cobras in having keeled dorsal scales. In all other respects it acts like a cobra, being able to rear up and spread a hood.

The venom of the rinkhals is neurotoxic and partially cytotoxic, and is less viscous than that of other African elapids.  When confronting a human, it generally aims its venom at the face. If the venom enters the eyes, it causes great pain.

If distressed, the rinkhals spreads its hood, showing its distinctive, striped neck. It is a spitting snake, and can spray its venom up to 2.5 m. Its spitting mechanism is primitive and it has to rear up and fling its body forward to spray its venom. It is also known to fake death by rolling onto its back with its mouth agape.

The African buffalo

The African buffalo or Cape buffalo (Syncerus caffer) is a large African bovine. The adult buffalo’s horns are its characteristic feature; they have fused bases, forming a continuous bone shield across the top of the head referred to as a “boss”. They are widely regarded as very dangerous animals.

Savannah-type buffaloes have black or dark brown coats with age. Old bulls have whitish circles around their eyes. Females tend to have more-reddish coats. Forest-type buffaloes are reddish brown in colour with horns that curve back and slightly up. Calves of both types have red coats.

The African buffalo is one of the most successful grazers in Africa. It lives in swamps and floodplains, as well as mopane grasslands and forests of the major mountains of Africa and also found on Sibuya Game Reserve. This buffalo prefers a habitat with dense cover, such as reeds and thickets, but can also be found in open woodland.  While not particularly demanding with regard to habitat, they require water daily, so depend on perennial sources of water.

African buffaloes make various vocalizations. Many calls are lower-pitched versions of those emitted by domestic cattle. They emit low-pitched, two- to four-second calls intermittently at three- to six-second intervals to signal the herd to move. To signal to the herd to change direction, leaders emit “gritty”, “creaking gate” sounds.

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

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.

Elegant Grasshopper

Elegant Grasshopper (Zonocerus elegans), a short-winged and flightless grasshopper found throughout much of Africa south of the Sahara as well as on Sibuya Game Reserve. They are sometimes also referred to as Rainbow Locusts. They are apparently slow and clumsy, relying primarily on their accumulated toxins for protection from predators. The toxins make them taste bad, although apparently not bad enough to make them inedible for humans. We found numerous references suggesting they are eaten in various parts of Africa.

Insects in particular use colours for protection as their predators, such as birds and other insects, have colour vision.

Elegant Grasshopper

Photo taken by Ranger Pablo

Cape creeper scorpion

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.

Diet

This species features in the diets of the bat-eared fox, the yellow mongoose and the small grey mongoose, just to mention a few.

Venom

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.