3 Facts About the Prehistoric Crocodile
Dec06

3 Facts About the Prehistoric Crocodile

The prehistoric looking Nile crocodile is sneaky predator that uses the art of surprise to ambush its unsuspecting victims. It’s a ruthless and opportunistic predator that has no particular preference for prey – the ultimate “generalists”. The most popular source of prey is fish, found in abundance in the rivers of the Lowveld. Crocodiles are silent and deadly apex predators, and their docile behaviour is not to be taken lightly. They can move those bulky bodies fairly swiftly. Don’t stand too close to rivers and waterholes, you don’t know what lurks beneath! Crocodile Feet : This ectothermic reptile has a body that’s adapted to both land and water. Its feet are both webbed and clawed. The claws are on the front legs and used for digging and clambering about on land. The back feet are webbed which aids the swimming and gliding movements in water. Born Sexless : Hatchlings aren’t born with a particular sex. Their sex is determined by the soil temperature where they are incubated, with high temperatures producing males. Crocodiles have been known to reach the ripe old age of 100 – we’re not surprised they survived through the Mesozoic period of time when dinosaurs were in existence. These robust animals have outlived dinosaurs and have been around for over 200 million years. Their bodies have evolved somewhat, but they still have that unmistakeable prehistoric appearance. Crocodiles are Nocturnal : Crocs have eyes adapted to the dark, which means they have excellent night vision. The use the cover of darkness to hunt, but will relish any opportunity to snag prey during the daylight hours. Impala lambs bumbling on the water’s edge, calves splashing about in the shallows and herbivores coming to drink stand little to no chance against this primary predator. You’ve been warned – watch where you stand !        ...

Read More
Relationship Between Wildlife and Trees in the Greater Kruger
Dec05

Relationship Between Wildlife and Trees in the Greater Kruger

The Kruger savannah comprises scrubveld, sweet grasses and mixed woodlands that, together with our wildlife, makes up a fascinating biome. The diverse habitat is home to an array of small mammals, giant herbivores, rodents, big game, predators, and birds. Many of these species share a special relationship with the indigenous flora of the area, proof that the delicate eco-system works is a well-oiled harmonious machine. Today we look at a few dependent relationships between trees and wildlife in the Greater Kruger; and pair trees to species. The next time you’re observing wildlife congregated around a specific type of tree, ask your if there is some sort of mutualism between tree and animal. Let’s talk about the relationship between wildlife and trees in the Greater Kruger.  Mopane and Elephants The mopane tree is covered in flat leaves that are high in protein. This is a herbivores’ favourite nutritious snack and the majority of plains game consume vast quantities of the leaves. Although high in tannins, mopane is actually a favourite meal of elephants. Pachyderms will digest vast amounts of the leaves and  bark during the rainy season when the tannins decrease, and the leaves become more palatable. The butterfly shaped leaf of the mopane is believed to relieve a number of digestive ailments if you make tea from the leaves. Jackal-berry and Jackals The omnivorous and fruit loving black-backed jackal is a connoisseur of the jackal-berry fruit, and tends to devour excessive quantities of the fallen grape-shaped fruit from this tree. The trees are impressive in size and provide massive shady canopies over areas. The tree is also known as the ebony tree because of its dark bark speckled with white patches. The ripened fruit can be used in a variety of condiments, and for brewing beer and brandy. Acacia and Giraffe Giraffe have a very special relationship with acacia trees, and in particular the knob thorn acacia. Giraffe are the mammal pollinators of the knob thorn, an unusual role for an animal. When the knob thorn produces flowers, giraffe devour the small flowers in a gluttonous  feast. The pollen from the flowers attaches to the giraffe’s hide and as they journey along, the pollen is deposited. Fever trees have pods which provide sustenance to an array of herbivores, including the giraffe. Interestingly enough, acacia trees “talk”. When giraffe feed excessively on one tree in produces an excess of tannins, in conjunction with other chemicals released that warns other trees in the area. Leadwood and Vultures The wood from the leadwood tree is incredibly heavy and can actually sink in large bodies of water. It remains standing long after the tree has died...

Read More
5 Small Animals to Spot on Safari in the Kruger
Dec05

5 Small Animals to Spot on Safari in the Kruger

It was hard selection and quite tough to narrow down our top 5 small animals to spot on safari in the Kruger, but we managed to filter through the forgotten bundles of fluffs to deliver a small assortment of animals. The big five are most certainly the most sought after animals to spot in the bushveld, but it’s always rewarding when you find the Kruger’s smallest carnivore flushing out grubs and grooming their coarse hair to impress a potential mate. The ‘veld is alive with activity from the smaller creatures that are sidelined in favour of big game. Seek out your primary list of wildlife to see, but think about adding these small animals to your safari tick list.   Dwarf Mongoose The somewhat petite dwarf mongoose is a fascinating species. Typically, they live in disused termite mounds in communities of up to 30 individuals. The community is led by a rather dominant and bossy alpha female that generally has a male sidekick. The duo is responsible for the well-being and success of the community. There are various duties to perform within the cohesive community, with the sentry duty being of great importance. Sentry duty involves one or more mongooses occasionally bolting up from the ground to scan their surrounds for imminent danger. They keep guard while others forage.  They are the smallest carnivore in Africa and thrive on a diet of grubs, insects, snakes and rodents. They forage in the low lying shrubbery and between fallen trees, and are often seen together with southern yellow-billed hornbills. Dwarf mongoose are constantly in search of food during the day, which makes them fairly easy to spot. They do tend to scurry around at a lightning pace, so if there’s an opportunity to take a photo then please do!  Lesser Bushbaby The lesser bushbaby is a minuscule nocturnal critter with alarmingly large eyes. It’s disc shaped eyes are a dead giveaway to its species. These tree-dwelling primates actually have tiny hands resembling miniature human hands. They’re loners with a nervous disposition; and if startled they will leap a whopping 3m between branches. Their diet comprises mainly gum and small insects; and they have an incredible ability to catch insects mid-air. Look out for this small acrobat during your night game drive.  Genet This tiny mammal hides away deep within hollow trees and dense thickets, and is nocturnal. It’s a solitary creature belonging to the civet family and they certainly aren’t afraid of encroaching on areas where there are humans. Genets have tiny pointy faces and slender bodies scattered with black dots – look up to the trees and you’ll spot them hiding...

Read More
Marine Life to Spot While on an Ocean Safari in Mozambique
Dec05

Marine Life to Spot While on an Ocean Safari in Mozambique

The Mozambique coastline is an unspoilt and wild destination in Africa offering a wealth of beach and ocean activities. The warm Indian ocean provides the perfect habitat for abundant marine life and the shoreline offers pristine surfing waves for all level of surfer. The Mozambique coast and its archipelagos provide the perfect conditions for a tropical island getaway, while still maintaining that African rustic feel. Ideal for fishing, diving, surfing, snorkelling and swimming, Mozambique is certainly a worthwhile destination. While you’re out in the deep blue, you’ll find that there’s ample marine life to spot while on an ocean safari in Mozambique. Below we’ve listed the most popular marine life to spot along Mozambique’s coast.  Humpback Whales and  Southern Right Whales Both the humpback and southern right whales are found in abundance throughout the warm waters of Mozambique. The whales migrate to the warm open waters of Mozambique to mate and calve, and favour the colder waters of the northern regions of the globe to feed. The most popular time of year to spot whales is from June – December, a window of time that gives onlookers an opportunity to whale watch from the shore – or even your lodge. The humpback whales do love to entertain, and can often be seen bolting up out of the water and slapping their hefty bodies back on the surface of the ocean. It’s name is derived from the way it contorts its frame when it readies itself for a dive. For the underwater adventurers, try to listen out for the haunting song and sounds of the humpback whales. The southern right whales name is derived from ancient times when hunters believed the species to be the “right” whale to hunt because of its blubber and slow-moving ways. Where to see whales in Mozambique : July – October is the time of year to see humpback whales in the Bazaruto and Quirimbas Archipelagos. October – December in the open waters of Mozambique is the time spot Humpbacks. The southern right whales appear to be more congregated around the southern regions of Mozambique. Dugongs The dugong is a rare, almost mythical sea creature that looks like a hybrid of an elephant and mermaid. The endangered dugong is not only rare, but by nature an excessively shy creature. Dugongs are drawn to areas with forests of sea grasses (northern parts of Mozambique coastline), and they’re actually one of two vegetarian marine mammals. Dugongs certainly aren’t loners and travel in flings of two or more. They feed in the shallows which means they are generally out of the way of marauding deep sea predators. Because dugongs are elusive,...

Read More
Where the African Wild Dogs Roam
Nov07

Where the African Wild Dogs Roam

African wild dogs are an endangered species of dog considered rare to see in the wild. The reason for this is two-fold : they’re notoriously nomadic and they cover a wide range with expansive territories. The best time of year to spot our twittering mottled dogs is for 3 months between May – Aug, during their denning period. And why is that? Wild dogs run as a pack, and for 3 months of the year the pups will be reared by these co-operative breeders. Wild dogs hunt together, hang out together and each dog has a role to play in helping to rear the pups. This means that when it comes time for the alpha female to produce her brood, she will need a secure den site. The pups are helpless and need to remain sedentary until they have grown. So this why, for 3 months, sightings of wild dogs increase. There are local packs of dogs in various reserves, and when these dogs aren’t traversing far and wide, they may return to their previous denning ground to rear the new pups. Wild dogs act as a single unit, and individual dogs fall into a particular role when it comes to looking after the pups. Some will select the fierce den guarding role (sentry duty) which requires a warrior attitude, others will conduct expertly crafted hunts and bring the food back to the den. Pups will call out for food, while practicing their high-pitched twittering which is the sound of a wild dog greeting ceremony. The hunting unit will regurgitate chunks of meat for the young pups, and if a kill is made close to the den site strips of meat will be taken back to the pack. The sentry roles are interchangeable with the hunting roles – wild dogs have such a sense of community ! The pup rearing period is perfectly timed with the end of the impala rut (isn’t nature fascinating?). At the end of the impala rutting season, the rams are tired and make for easy prey. Packs might be at the top of the food chain in terms predatory activity, but there are threats to the dogs safety in terms of other predators. This is why dogs will often move den sites during the denning period. In the Kruger’s Klaserie Private Nature Reserve, the dogs have been spotted during the predicted denning period and outside the denning period. Local photographer, Rogan Kerr, managed to take a few pictures of the dogs while he was on assignment at Africa on Foot....

Read More
5 Facts About Africa’s Big 5 Animals
Oct10

5 Facts About Africa’s Big 5 Animals

The Swahili word for journey is “safari”. The word is derived from ancient Arabic and loosely translated means “to travel”. The word safari is associated with Africa, and conjures up images of a bushveld sojourn in remote areas tracking wildlife and rare moments that don’t make the guidebooks. Discovering the big five is part of the safari experience. These animals are probably the most well-documented group of wildlife in Africa, and are arguably the most popular animals to spot while out on game drive. Of course, we always encourage our eager safari goers to relish in any opportunity to research and get excited about all the other rare birds and beasts dwelling in the wild. The big five is actually an  old term to have emerged from a bygone era when hunting big game was the norm. The big five proved to be the most difficult of all the hunt while on foot and also the most dangerous. The term has since evolved to mean something far less notorious, and is commonly used in reference to safari holidays in Africa. We thought we’d furnish our readers with a fact about each of the big five – just so that you know before you go! Here are 5 facts about Africa’s big 5 animals. Buffalo : Revengeful and Obstinate Buffalo look similar to cows, but they’re far from the gentle giant bovids we perceive them to be. Buffalo give little indication about their mood and don’t give any warning signs before stampeding. They have steely glare that makes them look like they area part of the Mafia and will win any stare down competition. Don’t be surprised if the entire herd stares at you while you’re taking a photo. However, the herds aren’t the ones to be feared. The most dangerous of all are the older bulls that have been ousted from the herd. They’re moody, insecure and prone to bad moods. Buffalo kill more people in Africa than any of the other big five. Elephants : Emotional and Protective Elephants are highly emotive and intelligent animals. They remember and process pain, death and happy events. They often visit grave sites of fallen giants to pay their respects, and there’s plenty of joyous trumpeting when there’s a birth. Elephants are raised in matriarchal herds, which means they enjoy the protection of the herd. Herds comprise related females and their young, and all the females take turns in looking after and mothering the young calves. Lions : Powerful and Regal Lions live in prides made up of females and their young. Male coalitions tend to rule over the pride but most...

Read More
3 Facts About our Adorable and Aggressive Hippos
Oct08

3 Facts About our Adorable and Aggressive Hippos

Visitors flock to southern and east Africa on an annual basis to experience the safari of a lifetime. The major drawcard of any safari experience is to track – and find – the iconic big five species. Spotting wildlife on this “tick list”  of Africa’s famous animals is one of the key reasons why many people go on safari. The rare moments spent observing the buffalo, rhino, lion, leopard and elephant are unforgettable, but sightings of the big five shouldn’t be the only reason you come on safari. While we’re by no means dismissing their presence, we do encourage you to expand your list of must-see animals. One of our favourites that should be at the top of the list, is the colossal – yet adorable – hippo.  Here are 3 interesting facts about our adorable and aggressive hippos. Hippos Do Not Swim There you are cruising through the Okavango Delta in a traditional mokoro, or hanging around the edge of waterhole in a reserve, and you spot a bloat of hippo seemingly swimming through the water. Truth be told – they aren’t swimming. Hippos wade across the bottom until they reach shallow areas of water where they blob about on the shoreline. Their enormous size means that they’re quite buoyant and float with ease. They are also incredibly adept at controlling their breathing and body position. It doesn’t matter about the depths, hippos have the ability to sink to the bottom of lakes and waterholes. They often utilise well-worn “paths” within their territory. At night hippos emerge from the waters to forage and feed on herbivorous delights. They might have a heavyset frame and a body that’s disproportionate, but they can still move at quite a speed! They are Aggressive and Territorial Hippos kill more people in Africa than any other animal and often it’s because they trample everything in their path when stomping their way back to the water. They’re excessively territorial and certainly don’t shy away from confrontation – a protective streak that is only really exercised in their watery turf. On land, groups will forage wherever there is an abundance of vegetation. They are guardians of their watery domains and will happily fight to keep their territory. Ruthless crocodiles and other predators keep their distance from these dangerous herbivores. Seeing a display of hippo dominance in action is terrifying yet exquisite as the same time. To assert their dominance and ward off others, a hippo will open its massive jaw to display its tusk-like canines and knife-like incisors in an effort to scare off would be intruders. The honking and grunting sounds you hear while they’re...

Read More