Tag Archives: Fun Facts

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.

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Plains Zebra Facts

The plains zebra, also known as the common zebra, is the most abundant of three species of zebra, inhabiting the grasslands of eastern and southern Africa. The plains zebra remains common in game reserves (including Sibuya Game Reserve).

Habitat

Its habitat is generally but not exclusively treeless grasslands and savanna woodlands, both tropical and temperate. They generally avoid desert, dense rainforest and permanent wetlands, and rarely stray more than 30 kilometres from a water source. Predators of the zebra include lions, spotted hyenas, leopards, cheetahs and wild dogs.

Physical Description

Like all zebras, they are boldly striped in black and white, and no two individuals look exactly alike. They also have black or dark muzzles.

Function of the stripes

Perhaps the best explanation for the stripes is that they serve a social function.  Individual zebras can apparently recognize each other by their striping patterns.  The stripes may also serve as visual cues for grooming.  In addition, they could serve to help zebra groups stay together when they are fleeing.

zebra

Interactions with other grazers

Plains zebra herds will mix and migrate together along with other species such as wildebeests. Wildebeests and zebras generally coexist peacefully and will alert each other to predators. However, aggressive interactions occasionally occur.

Secretary Bird Facts

Endemic to Africa, it is usually found in the open grasslands and savannah of the sub-Saharan. Although a member of the order Accipitriformes, which also includes many other diurnal raptors such as kites, hawks, vultures, and harriers, it is given its own family, Sagittariidae.

It appears on the coats of arms of Sudan and South Africa.

Description

The secretary bird is instantly recognizable as a very large bird with an eagle-like body on crane-like legs which increases the bird’s height to as much as 1.3 m (4.3 ft) tall. This bird has an eagle-like head with a hooked bill, but has rounded wings.

From a distance or in flight it resembles a crane more than a bird of prey. The tail has two elongated central feathers that extend beyond the feet during flight, as well as long flat plumage creating a posterior crest.

Distribution and habitat

Secretary birds are endemic to Sub-Saharan Africa and are non-migratory, though they may follow food sources. Their range extends from Mauritania to Somalia and south to the Cape of Good Hope. These birds are also found at a variety of elevations, from the coastal plains to the highlands and occasionally spotted around Sibuya Game Reserve.

Secretary birds prefer open grasslands and savannas rather than forests and dense shrubbery which may impede their cursorial existence. While the birds roost on the local Acacia trees at night, they spend much of the day on the ground, returning to roosting sites just before dark.

secretary-birdStomping

Secretarybirds specialize in stomping their prey until the prey is killed or immobilized.  This method of hunting is commonly applied to lizards or snakes.

Diet

Prey may consist of insects, mammals ranging in size from mice to hares and mongoose, crabs, lizards, snakes, tortoises, young birds, bird eggs, and sometimes dead animals killed in grass or bush fires.

African coral tree

Erythrina caffra is a medium to large deciduous tree. It grows in coastal bushes and riverine forests along the south eastern coast of South Africa, including Sibuya Game Reserve and up into Zululand.

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Leaves

The leaves are made up of three leaflets. Each leaflet is broadly ovate to elliptical. The leaflets do not have prickles and are hairless.

Flowers

The flowers are made up of a main petal and four small petals. The main petal curves back to expose the stamens. This is one of the main differences between Erythrina caffra and Erythrina lysistemon. The flowers form stalked axillary racemes up to 100mm long.

Trunk

The bark is reasonably smooth with thorns every now and then. The younger the branch the sharper the thorns.

Honey Badger

Appearance

Honey Badgers are about 250 mm high at the shoulders and weigh 12 Kg. Their coats have a broad and course saddle of grey hair running from above the eyes to the base of their tail, which contrasts starkly with their black underparts. They have a low slung body, with tiny ears and stout legs, and have massive claws. The latter is an adaptation for digging and spending time under ground, but are also formidable weapons. It is primarily terrestrial but can climb, especially when attracted by honey. It travels by a jog-trot but is tireless and trails its prey until the prey is run to the ground.

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Diet

A carnivore which feeds on a variety of small animals, scorpions and mice. They also take larger items like springhares and snakes. They may scavenge small antelope kills from other carnivores. The extent to which they eat honey is unknown. They are alleged to be led to beehives by the honey guide bird. The latter is supposed to be rewarded by the Honey Badger by scraps of honeycomb.

Breeding

The Honey Badger is thought to breed all year round, with females thought to have two young per litter. Research in the southern Kalahari showed that cubs stayed with their mothers for a minimum of 14 months, before becoming independent. This is in marked contrast to the Eurasian Badger which may become independent at 3 months.

Behaviour

Honey Badgers are solitary foragers and foraging behaviour is characterised by a slow winding walk with continuous smelling of rodent and small reptile holes and scent trails. In the southern Kalahari, Honey Badgers switch from being predominantly nocturnal in summer and diurnal in Winter. However, in areas where honey badgers are affected by human activities they are usually nocturnal.

Habitat

Honey Badgers have a wide habitat tolerance and are found in a wide variety of environmental conditions, except for extreme deserts and areas receiving more than 2000 mm of rain per year.

Where they are found

Widely distributed throughout South Africa including Sibuya Game Reserve, but absent from the north-west coastal areas.

Predators

Adults are frequently killed by Leopard and Lion. Their black and white colouration is thought to provide a warning to other predators of their strength and tenacity.

Interesting facts

Honey Badgers do appear to have some immunity to snake venoms. A Honey Badger bitten on the face by the highly cytotoxic puffadder showed signs of severe pain but recovered fully within five hours. This immunity may develop over the life time of the honey badgers due to regular contact with small amounts of venom in snakes, scorpions and bees. Young cubs are prevented from catching poisonous snakes by their mothers until they have the necessary skills and coordination. While Honey Badgers also appear to have some immunity to bee stings, they have been found stung to death in hives, particularly in commercial apiaries.

Caracal

A large, rufous-fawn Cat with tufted black ears, creamy underbelly with faded orange spots, and long legs. The face has exquisite markings. This animal must be regarded as one of the most beautiful Cats in the world.

The Caracal moves with grace and a sense of confident power. It is an expert climber and regularly takes refuge in trees. Melanistic or all black Caracal have also been reported.

Diet

In hunting, the Caracal is mainly nocturnal, but will also use the twilight hours to search out its prey. Diurnal activity has also been observed, specifically in the hunting of bird. For its size the Caracal is strong and fast, and as well as taking smaller prey such as Jerboas, Sand Rat, Ground Squirrel and Rock Hyrax, it can also bring down the larger Reedbuck and Duiker.This Cat is able, from a sitting position, to launch 4-5 metres in the air by using its strong hind quarters and limbs. They do this to pluck flying bird prey from the air.

Breeding

In most parts of its range the Caracal has no set breeding period and a female may often mate with up to three males. The litter size varies between 1-6 kittens, which are born after a gestation period of approximately 78 days. The kittens have a daily weight gain of approximately 21g per day and although they reach maturity at about 16-18 months of age they are often independent from about 12 months.

Behaviour

The Caracal is a mostly nocturnal, secretive, solitary and an aggressive animal. Due to being hunted as a problem animal by farmers, Caracal became even more elusive and thus a sighting of one is very difficult.

Habitat

The Cat is found in dry savannah and woodland areas, scrubland and rugged terrain in mountainous regions, where it is known to live as high as up as 3000 metres. Like other Cats found in dry, arid or semi-dessert locations, the Caracal can survive for long periods without water, instead obtaining its requirement form the metabolic moisture of its prey.

Distribution

It occurs throughout South Africa (including Sibuya Game Reserve), and prefers open areas in woodland savannahs as well as rocky, hilly areas.

Spoor

Compared to those of the Serval, the footprints of the Caracal are broader and the indentations at the front of the intermediate pads are more prominent.

Cape Fox

The only true fox and the smallest canid found in South Africa. The Cape Fox is silver-grey in colour with large pointed ears. They have a dark colouring around the mouth. Adults measure 350 mm at the shoulders and have a weight of 2.5-3 kg.

Remarkably agile, especially since the bushy tail serves as a counterbalance when dodging and weaving.

Diet

The Cape Fox preys on insects, mice and other small animals. They occasionally ingest wild fruit and carrion in farming areas.

Breeding

The Cape Fox is a seasonal breeder, giving birth in the early summer to between one and 5 young, after a gestation period of 51-52 days.

1 – 5 young are born from October – November after a gestation period of ± 2 months. The female has one pair of groin and 2 pairs of abdominal mammae.

Behaviour

The Cape Fox is mainly nocturnal. Its social system is not well understood but it would appear to be monogamous, like other canids.

Distribution

Inhabits mainly open country, from open grassland plains with scattered thickets to semi-desert scrub, and also extending into fynbos. Associated strongly with the fringes of water pans. Widespread in South Africa, occurring in most parts of the Western and Northern Cape provinces, the Eastern Cape (including Sibuya Game Reserve) the Free State, western and north-western KwaZulu-Natal and the North-West province. Also occurring in Lesotho.

Spoor

Has 5 toes on the fore-feet, but the first toe and claw do not mark in the spoor. Has 4 toes on the hind-feet. The claws on the front feet are thin, sharp and curved, about 15 mm in length across the curve. Those on the hind-feet are the same shape and about the same length.