Tag Archives: Nature

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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Greater double-collared sunbird

The sunbird breeds in southern South Africa (and where Sibuya Game Reserve is situated). It is mainly resident, but partly migratory in the northeast of its range. It is common in gardens, fynbos, forest edges and coastal scrub.

The sunbird is usually seen singly or in pairs. Its flight is fast and direct on short wings. The sunbird breeds all year round, with a peak from July to November. The closed oval nest is constructed from grass, lichen and other plant material, bound together with spider webs. It has a side entrance which sometimes has a porch, and is lined with feathers.

It lives mainly on nectar from flowers, but takes some fruit, and, especially when feeding young, insects and spiders. It has the habit of hovering in front of webs to extract spiders. It can hover like a hummingbird to take nectar, but usually perches to do so.  The Greater Double-Collared Sunbird makes a shrill whistle and click: Wrew wrew wrew ch ch

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.

 

Crowned hornbill (Tockus alboterminatus)

Description

It is a medium-sized bird, 50–54 centimetres (20–21 in) in length, and is characterized by its white belly and black back and wings. The tips of the long tail feathers are white. The eyes are yellow; the beak is red and presents a stocky casque on the upper mandible. In females, the casque is smaller. The crowned hornbill can be distinguished from the similar Bradfield’s hornbill by its shorter beak.

Crowned Hornbill

Habitat
The crowned hornbill is a common resident of the coastal and riverine forests of southern (only the eastern coast) to northeastern Africa as well as on Sibuya Game Reserve.

Diet
It forages mainly in trees, where it feeds on insects (often caught in flight), small rodents, small reptiles, seeds and fruits. This hornbill species can be seen in flocks, usually in the dry season. Four to five white eggs are incubated for 25 to 30 days; the juveniles remain with both parents for about 8 weeks.

The Book Scorpion (pseudoscorpion)

A pseudoscorpion, also known as a false scorpion or book scorpion, is an arachnid and can be found on Sibuya Game Reserve.  

Photo taken by Chris Ovens

Pseudoscorpions are generally beneficial to humans since they prey on clothes moth larvae, carpet beetle larvae, booklice, ants, mites, and small flies. They are tiny and inoffensive, and are rarely seen due to their small size, despite being common in many environments. Pseudoscorpions often carry out phoresy, a form of commensalism in which one organism uses another for the purpose of transport.

Pseudoscorpions spin silk from a gland in their jaws to make disk-shaped cocoons for mating, molting, or waiting out cold weather. However, they do not have book lungs as most of their closest relatives, the spiders, do. They breathe through spiracles, a trait they share with the insects.

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.

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.