Tag Archives: Did You Know

Southern Right Whales

Approximately 10,000 southern right whales are spread throughout the southern part of the Southern Hemisphere.  Like other right whales, the southern right whale is readily distinguished from others by the callosities on its head, a broad back without a dorsal fin, and a long arching mouth that begins above the eye. Its skin is very dark grey or black, occasionally with some white patches on the belly. The right whale callosities appear white due to large colonies of cyamids (whale lice).

Video credit: RailTime Photography

Right whales do not normally cross the warm equatorial waters to connect with the other species and (inter) breed: their thick layers of insulating blubber make it difficult for them to dissipate their internal body heat in tropical waters.

Life span is not clear although whales seem to reach over 100 years old.

The southern right whale has made Hermanus, South Africa one of the world centers for whale watching. During the winter months (June to October), southern right whales come so close to the shoreline that visitors can watch them from the shore as well as from strategically placed hotels. Hermanus also has two boat–based whale watching operators. The town employs a “whale crier” (cf. town crier) to walk through the town announcing where whales have been seen. Southern right whales can also be watched at other winter breeding grounds. In False Bay whale-watching can be done from the shore or from the boats of licensed operators in Simon’s Town. Plettenberg Bay along the Garden Route of South Africa is another mecca for whale watching not only for southern rights (July to December)but throughout the year. There are both land based and ocean safaris boat based whale encounters on offer in this beautiful town. Southern right whales can also be seen off the coast of Port Elizabeth with marine eco tours running from the Port Elizabeth harbour, as some southern right whales make Algoa Bay their home for the winter months.

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Dung beetle

Many dung beetles, known as rollers, roll dung into round balls, which are used as a food source or breeding chambers. Others, known as tunnelers, bury the dung wherever they find it. A third group, the dwellers, neither roll nor burrow: they simply live in manure. They are often attracted by the dung collected by burrowing owls. There are dung beetle species of different colours and sizes, and some functional traits such as body mass (or biomass) and leg length can have high levels of variability.

The nocturnal African dung beetle Scarabaeus satyrus is the only known non-human animal to navigate and orient itself using the Milky Way.

dungbeetle

Dung beetles live in many habitats, including desert, grasslands and savannas, farmlands, and native and planted forests and commonly found on Sibuya Game Reserve. They are highly influenced by the environmental context, and do not prefer extremely cold or dry weather. They are found on all continents except Antarctica.

Dung beetles play a remarkable role in agriculture and tropical forests. By burying and consuming dung, they improve nutrient recycling and soil structure. They are also important for the dispersal of seeds present in animals’ dung, influencing seed burial and seedling recruitment in tropical forests.

 

Wildebeest – Did you know?

The ungainly gnu (pronounced “g-new” or simply “new”) earned the Afrikaans name wildebeest, or “wild beast,” for the menacing appearance presented by its large head, shaggy mane, pointed beard, and sharp, curved horns.

  1. Wildebeest is a mammal that belongs to the family of antelopes and is one of the largest antelopes.
  2. Wildebeest looks like a close relative of a bovine because of its disproportionate body. It has large, box-shaped head, and strongly built front part of the body. Hindquarters are slender, just like in other antelopes.
  3. Wildebeest has a mane just like horse. Both males and females have curved horns.
  4. Wildebeest is a grazer. It eats mainly short grass. Wildebeest needs to drink water at least every other day.
  5. Calves (babies) are able to walk as soon as they are born. Few days after birth, babies can run with the rest of the herd.

 

Sibuya Game Reserve

If you are planning an African Safari, or want to stay at a Game Reserve in South Africa, or a Game Reserve near the Garden Route, or are looking for that perfect Game Reserve Wedding Venue, then why not visit Sibuya for that ultimate African Bush Experience! Sibuya is a Malaria Free Game Reserve

Sibuya offers team-building & conferencing programmes for companies or conference groups.

 

Antelope Facts: Nyala

The lowland nyala or simply nyala, is a spiral-horned antelope native to Southern Africa.  The nyala is mainly active in the early morning and the late afternoon. As a herbivore, the nyala feeds upon foliage, fruits and grasses, with sufficient fresh water. A shy animal, it prefers water holes rather than open spaces.

The main predators (some of which are found on Sibuya Game Reserve) of the nyala are lion and leopard, while baboons and raptorial birds hunt for the juveniles. After a gestation period of seven months, a single calf is born.  Alert and wary in nature, the nyala use a sharp, high, dog-like bark to warn others in a group about danger. This feature is mainly used by females.

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Sibuya Game Reserve

If you are planning an African Safari, or want to stay at a Game Reserve in South Africa, or a Game Reserve near the Garden Route, or are looking for that perfect Game Reserve Wedding Venue, then why not visit Sibuya for that ultimate African Bush Experience! Sibuya is a Malaria Free Game Reserve

Sibuya offers team-building & conferencing programmes for companies or conference groups.

Little Five Game

In Africa, the little five game animals are:

1. Elephant shrew: a small, insect-eating mammal with a long nose. Elephant shrews are very common in Southern Africa but seldom seen.
2. Buffalo weaver: the buffalo weaver is the easiest among the little five to find and observe.
3. Leopard tortoise (commonly found at Sibuya Game Reserve)
4. Antlion or ant lion
5. Rhino beetle

The term little five was brought to life, after safari tourists’ successful wildlife experience of the big five in Southern Africa. It was after a call by nature conservationists for visitors also to acknowledge the smaller — less noticed — but still enigmatic, animals of the savanna (called bushveld in South Africa).

Each “little” species is a contradiction in sheer size to the big five animal, but the first part of its English name relates to one of the famous bigger five animals one-on-one.

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.

Caracal

The caracal is a medium-sized wild cat native to Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia and India. The caracal is characterised by a robust build, long legs, a short face, long tufted ears and long canine teeth.  The caracal inhabits forests, savannas, marshy lowlands, semi-deserts and scrub forests and can be found on the Sibuya Game Reserve.

Typically nocturnal, the caracal is highly secretive and difficult to observe. It is territorial, and lives mainly alone or in pairs. The caracal is a carnivore that typically preys upon small mammals, birds and rodents.

It can leap higher than 3 m and catch birds in mid-air. It stalks its prey until it is within 5 m of it, after which it runs it down, the prey being killed by a bite to the throat or to the back of the neck.

Breeding takes place throughout the year with both sexes becoming sexually mature by the time they are a year old. Gestation lasts between two and three months, resulting in a litter of one to six kittens. Juveniles leave their mothers at nine to ten months, though a few females stay back with their mothers. The average lifespan of the caracal in captivity is nearly 16 years.